The Los Angeles Times reported on July 5, 1928 that Jack Daro was running a "series of
roller-skating races" at the Shrine Auditorium Skating Pavilion in Los Angeles. Jack was
the brother of wrestling promoter Lou Daro.
On December 30, 1928, the Los Angeles Times reported that "Jack Daro, formerly of
New York City where he was well known in sporting circles, had been retained to assist
[Lou Daro] with the big program he is working on for 1929." Jack was "a star all-around
athlete during his school days, and a close follower of the wrestling game for the last ten
years." He'd been reportedly helping Lou "here ever since his arrival from the East last
The Los Angeles Times, on February 27, 1930, reported that Daro had secured a
license to promote matches in San Francisco. Daro leased the Dreamland Auditorium,
and planned to stage his first show sometime in March.
Claims that Daro held a monopoly over professional wrestling in Los Angeles were taken
to court, and during the latter part of May 1930, promoter Fred Young Jr. began to
present his case before Superior Judge Hanby. Young claimed that Daro's influence was
preventing him from getting a license to promote wrestling in Los Angeles. He wanted to
use the Shrine Civic Auditorium to stage shows, but couldn't get permission from the
California Athletic Commission. Reportedly, the commission had told him previously that
the "territory" wasn't large enough for two wrestling promotions. Young believed that
there was a pro-Daro slant among the members of the commission.
On October 31, 1934, Daro turned over the boxing business at the Olympic to Tom
Gallery after losing $20,000 in the last eight months. Daro had staged 24 shows and 18
of them lost money since March 1, 1934. (11/1/34, Los Angeles Times)
The impressive vision of Daro was never more apparent than when he announced a
"gigantic" International Wrestling Tournament for Los Angeles beginning in April 1935. It
was billed as the "largest" tournament of any kind in professional wrestling history, and
competitors from throughout the world were going to participate. Daro, publicity
mentioned, was a wrestler in the 1917 International Tournament in New York City. Before
the tournament was to begin, Daro planned a "parade of nations" through the streets of
Los Angeles. "Nothing like it in sports in the City of Angels has been attenmpted (sic) in
years," the Arcadia Tribune (Arcadia, CA, 4/19/1935) reported.
The Los Angeles Times, on April 23, 1935, stated that members of the Wrestling Trust
were arriving in the city to meet with Lou Daro in advance of the international wrestling
tournament. The promoters included "Toots" Mondt, Tom Packs, Ray Fabiani, Paul
Bowser, and Jack Curley. Jack Singer claimed that the "meeting will mark a milestone in
the mat sport. It will be the first time that the rival promoters have tabled their petty
jealousies, sectional warfare and rankling likes and dislikes and met on friendly, amicable
grounds." This was inaccurate because the "Trust" had met and formed in November
1933, bringing everyone onto the same page.
Singer called Curley the "pioneer of wrestling in this country," and the "master of the mat
show." Curley "pulls the strings that makes the puppets act."
The article stated that Paul Bowser sent the $10,000 "diamond studded belt, emblematic
of the championship," to Lou Daro, and the title had passed from Lewis to Sonnenberg to
Ed Don George. The belt was going to the winner of the tournament.
Daro's parade was going to begin at 10:00 a.m. on April 24, 1935 starting at City Hall,
going down Broadway and end up at the Olympic Auditorium. "One hundred wrestlers will
participate," Singer informed. Daro was going to ride Sheriff Biscailuz's white horse, it
was initially said, but that the horse would not be able to carry Daro's weight. Singer
wrote, "so Daro will ride in a Mack truck, instead."
The United Press printed an article while appeared in the Tampa Tribune (3/3/1935) and
other newspapers across the nation about Daro, and it was very telling. Daro explained
how he brought success to professional wrestling, and his belief on how it could do the
same for boxing in Los Angeles. The key to everything were "passes." Daro explained
that "passes" were "what the fight game needs."
Daro elaborated. "I got my success in the wrestling game by issuing passes. And I will
get my success in the fight game the same way. I will issue passes - lots of passes.
Passes are the stuff."
When asked what he meant by that, Daro explained: "Well, you see, its this way. Years
ago, when I started promoting wrestling at the Philharmonic Auditorium, everybody said I
was crazy, see? A lot of 'em still think I'm crazy. But I am not. I am smart. I promoted
wresting by putting out passes. I put them out by the hundreds, by the thousands, by the
ten thousands. I papered the house so an usher couldn't get standing room. Every night
the joint was jammed."
Daro said that he couldn't get any publicity for his shows. On one occasion, he put out
"300,000 passes for a wrestling show at the Philharmonic Auditorium," and the crowd
"packed Pershing Square outside for two blocks either way." His bright idea was telling
his press agent to "sock" him [Daro] in the nose. "Maybe it would be a good story of the
newspaper people," Daro told the U.P. His press agent liked the idea, "and he socked
me on the nose. It started a riot. Police emergency squads came, and the ambulance,
and also lots of newspaper fellows."
Daro continued: "It was immense. It made the show. They found Pershing Square
packed with folks trying to get into the Philharmonic Auditorium. It made wrestling. It
made me. And passes is what did it, see?"
When questioned further, Daro explained: "The idea is I charged two bits for every pass.
Then if you put out enough of 'em, it simply makes your show. It's immense."
The 1935 international wrestling tournament drew $117,463.50 for 17 shows and
The April 14, 1936 edition of the Los Angeles Times stated that Lou and his wife were
going to Japan to scout for talent. It was a six week trip for both pleasure and business.
On June 23, 1936, the United Press ran a report that was picked up by the Nevada State
Journal (Reno, Nevada 6/23/36) that reported that Jack Daro had been charged with
overselling the Auditorium in Los Angeles. Daro responded by saying that it was a matter
of heat and the laws of physics, explaing that "when it gets hot up in the gallery, the
customers expand. When they expand, they shove those on the ends off benches out in
Claims that the Daros had been overcrowding their facilities were not new. In May 1935,
the Los Angeles Assistant City Prosecutor Newt Kendall made the same assertion about
the attendance at the Olympic Auditorium. For one particular show, prior to May 24,
there were as many as 2,000 tickets sold beyond the safe seating capacity.
During the winter of 1936, Daro suffered a heart attack that nearly killed him and
remained in bed for three months. His physician, Dr. Will Duncan believed that if the
circumstances had occurred to anyone else but Daro, they would've died. But Daro was
a survivor, and to regain his health, Lou was going to Germany and Naples, Italy to
convalesce. Accompanied by his wife, he planned to return in around four months, and
was leaving his business in the hands of his brother Jack and "Toots" Mondt. Daro told
Jack Singer of the Los Angeles Times (3/11/37) that he needed sun, and that "I'll be
back, and stronger than ever."
Singer was there when Daro returned, and an article printed in the June 26, 1937 edition
of the Los Angeles Times. Daro "modestly refers to himself as the 'Great Daro,' and
agreed to give interviews to "each one of fifteen newspapermen" who wanted to talk with
him. Unlike his fragile condition when he depart in March, Daro was speaking quickly and
full of life, reminding those who knew him of the old Lou, who many people thought was
gone forever. Daro promised some major promotions in the near future, even telling
Singer that "I tried to sign Hitler and Mussolini for a match with only the strangle and
poison gas barred. Hitler agreed but that Mussolini held out for Spain and Austria." Daro
also explained that Leo Leavitt and Joe Waterman had "double crossed" him while he
was sick. "They took advantage of me," Daro said. "I put up the money for them to stage
the Armstrong-Arizmendi fight." He said that Leavitt and Waterman sold the boxing lease.
The August 5, 1937 edition of the Los Angeles Times stated that Daro was "mulling over
an offer from the International Association of Wrestling Promoters to accept the post as
czar of the mat game." Daro was reportedly president of the Association but had to resign
because of his health. "The High Commissioner's post would give him authority in every
section of the globe where professional wrestling is stated. It will entail traveling and will
pay a high salary."
Braven Dyer of the Los Angeles Times wrote a feature column on Daro in the December
22, 1937 edition. Among the highlights of the column was that Daro promoted his first
show in Los Angeles "sixteen years ago" between Jim Londos and Jack Ellis of Chicago.
The program was on Grand Avenue at the Orange Grove Theater and Daro drew a gate
of $130. Dyer remembered back when Joe Stecher was the featured wrestler in the city.
"Joe was as colorful as a cup of custard," Dyer wrote. "He was a great wrestler, but a
bum actor." Daro estimated that he'd raised in excess of $1 million for the war veterans'
hospital. Daro's favorite wrestler was Londos and held a soft spot in his heart for NIck
Lutze and Renato Gardini. Also, Daro received the initial license to promote wrestling by
the State of California when the sport was legalized in 1924.
A major downhill slide had the Daro Empire on the ropes, and Jack, the principle figure in
the promotions, was getting from all sides. There were complaints about a purported
monopoly, disgruntled wrestlers, and a press core that was seemingly learning a little
more about the behind-the-scenes action each day. The July 20, 1940 edition of the Los
Angeles Times reported that Jack Daro was about to lose his wrestling license at the
Olympic Auditorium. The numbers had been horrible, and with Nick Lutze obtaining a
license to book and wrestlers flocking to his stable, things were not going to rectify itself
without an astonishing magic trick.
The California Athletic Commission was also prepared to drop the boom on Daro. All of
the negative press was leading to the end of the road for the Daros in the wrestling
business, and Jack knew it himself. After dropping as much as $70,000 in a few month
period, he wanted to escape the mat game entirely. Daro was paying $40,000 a year for
the lease at the Olympic, and during the recent down period, had been reduced by
$10,000. Nothing was helping him.
Within a few days (Los Angeles Times, 7/25/40), the Associated Press reported that Paul
Bowser had filed suit in San Francisco Federal Court against Lou and Jack Daro, Joe
"Toots" Mondt, Dick Sackoff, and Joe Malcewicz. Bowser wanted a proper accounting of
the profits earned since he made a deal with the defendants on December 20, 1935.
Bowser believed that $65,000 may have been pocketed without the rightful profit sharing
that they'd agreed to.
On March 1, 1941, the Daro lease of the Olympic Auditorium expired, and would not be
renewed. Instead, owner Frank A. Garbutt inked a deal with promoter Joe Lynch on the
evening of February 22, 1941. Lynch planned to stage boxing at the Olympic, and
needed approval from the California Athletic Commission. Lynch had "just returned" from
Honolulu, where he worked as a promoter.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
November 26, 2010
|Lou Daro Wrestling History