A detailed look at Baron Leone and an examination of his record breaking match against
Lou Thesz in 1952 is featured in National Wrestling Alliance: The Untold Story of the
Monopoly that Strangled Pro Wrestling.
According to his Social Security Application, filled out on September 20, 1944, Michele
Leone was born on June 8, 1909 in Pettotano Sul Gizio Aquila, Italy. His parents were
Giovanni and Anna Federico Leone. He listed his employer as S. Isor at 29 New
Chambers St., New York City, New York. His residence in 1944 was 673 Broadway in New
York. "Michele Leone" was the name he was given at birth.
Stefano Quaino informs Legacy of Wrestling that Baron Michele Leone was born in
Pettorano sul Gizio (not Pettotano). You should write the name of the village like this:
L'Aquila (meaning the Eagle) is the province where Pettorano sul Gizio lies.
He added that Leone and Bruno Sammartino came from the very same italian region,
which is Abruzzo (or Abruzzi - sometimes the name of the region is in plural). The village is
called Pizzoferrato (and not Pizzoferetto): Pizzoferrato means Iron Peak (of a mountain).
Leone was trained by Hugh Nichols around 1952.
"Baron" Michele Leone had a contract with Doyle that called for the latter's agency to
receive 30 percent of Leone's earnings over $200 a week. Doyle's office made $15,000 a
year for four years for Leone's contract alone.
After Leone became the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion, Doyle's office and
later the California Wrestling Office, retained control of his contract. However, Leroy
McGuirk (NWA member in Tulsa) got Leone's booking rights.
In May 1955, Doyle advised Department of Justice investigator Stanley Disney that he
interview Leone. He "created" Baron Leone, he told Disney, and "made a lot of
kinescopes and films of him, booking him as champ."
Leone had unparalleled success during the early 1950s. Outside of the ring, he was hired
to offer advice to couples on his own television show on ABC called "Advice to the
Lovelorn," and it ran for 13 weeks. Additionally, his book, "Road to Health and Happiness"
sold in excess of 25,000 copies. He was even hired to appear in a few television films,
however, the latter didn't go as planned. On July 17, 1953, Leone sued Maurice Kosloff
Productions, Inc. (Maurice Kosloff and Louie Diaz) in Municipal Court for $3,000, claiming
that he had a contract for the three TV films in which he'd portray a detective, but that the
movies were never made.
Research by Tim Hornbaker, Stefano Quaino
|"Baron" Michele Leone Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling