The “Great” Malenko was one of the toughest, most talented athletes between the 1950s and
1970s. Boris was a father to Dean and Joe Malenko, both scientific wrestling superstars. He
loved to fight and was both cheered and hated by fans. Promoters often billed him as being
from Russia and that he was the King of the Russian Chain Match. Malenko held regional
championships all over the United States and sold-out arenas in many areas including
Florida, Texas, Nebraska, the Northeast and Tennessee, as well as Japan. His wars with
Eddie Graham, Johnny Valentine and Joe Scarpa are legendary.
Malenko originally began in the 1950s, wrestling under his real name, Larry Simon. After
competing for sometime in the northeast, he ventured to Nebraska and competed as Otto
Von Krupp, a German heel, who was one of least popular athletes in the area. Krupp
eventually became Boris Malenko, a fierce competitor from Russia. He was also known as
the Great Malenko in many territories. In 1962, he won the NWA Southern Title from Eddie
Graham in Florida. He traveled back to the northeast and competed at Madison Square
Garden in New York City on December 16, 1963. Malenko wrestled and lost to Dory Dixon
before 11,670. He lost a special boxing match to Jose Lothario in the fifth round of an
October 16, 1968 match in Miami. Malenko was knocked out. A rematch was set because of
the loss for Malenko’s Florida Brass Knuckles Title.
On October 23rd, Malenko defeated Lothario to retain his title. He feuded heavily with
Johnny Valentine in late 1968 and into 1969 throughout the southeast. On Christmas Day
1968, Malenko defeated Valentine in a steel cage match at the Armory in Tampa. He lost a
Russian Chain match to the Masked Gladiator in Tampa on January 1, 1969. A week later,
he suffered a loss to a 550-pound wrestling bear named Bruiser Ben. On January 14th,
Malenko retained his Brass Knuckles Title with a win over the Masked Gladiator.
In Tampa, he defeated Joe Scarpa in a “Concentration Match” on January 28, 1969.
Malenko continued his feud with Scarpa on April 22, 1969 when he interfered in Joe’s NWA
World Title Match against Dory Funk Jr. in Tampa. Malenko attacked Scarpa during the first
rest period and put him out of action for the rest of the night. Also on that card, Malenko
retained his Brass Knuckles Title with a defeat of Louie Tillet. Boris lost the Knuckles Title to
Scarpa sometime in either late April or Early May 1969. On May 6, 1969, he lost two-straight
to Cyclone Negro in Tampa in a bid to capture the Florida Title. Malenko lost the first by
reverse decision and the second by disqualification.
The Malenko-Scarpa feud continued on May 13, 1969 when Malenko was in the hunt for the
NWA World Title against Dory Jr. He won the first and lost the second. Malenko was counted
out in the final fall when he was brawling with Scarpa outside the ring. On May 20th, Malenko
and Beautiful Brutus defeated Cyclone Negro and Joe Scarpa in a tag bout at the Tampa
Armory. The following week, a Russian Death Singles Match against Scarpa was planned. In
an upset, Malenko lost although he was leading with three wins to his opponent’s two. During
the 1970’s, Malenko served as a manager in several territories including the Mid-Atlantic
After his retirement, Boris Malenko began to train the many of the sport’s young. Out of his
Florida School came many of wrestling’s most skilled athletes. His sons, Dean and Joe were
both trained by the Great Malenko and helped him with the family’s school. The Malenko
Family trained the likes of Bob Orton Jr., Kane, Marc Mero, X-Pac and dozens of others.
Boris was among the dignitaries present to honor legendary promoter Paul Boesch in
Houston on August 28, 1987. He died on September 1, 1994. The Great Malenko will be
missed by a new era of professional wrestling fans. His legacy will live forever.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Boris Malenko Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling