Carl Pons (Antime Gonthier) failed to throw Tom Sharkey three-times in 60-minutes on
January 13, 1904 in Montreal. Pons was only able to win one fall in 31:00.
Lucien Riopel was the man behind professional wrestling in Montreal during the late
1920s and into the early part of the '30s. He returned to work with Jack Ganson's
effort at the Verdun Auditorium in 1941. Ganson would be the matchmaker.
Louis Letourneau promoted wrestling in Montreal in 1931 along with Lucien Riopel.
He was a member of the Quebec Legislative Council for LaSalle and a successful
businessman. He died on November 13, 1938. He was 65.
The Montreal Gazette, on October 27, 1937, reported that professional wrestling
under promoter Jack Ganson had drawn over 100,000 and more than $71,000 so far
this year with seven shows remaining. Over the course of the entire 1936 season,
wrestling took in only about $60,000.
The Montreal Athletic Commission, during a meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 1944,
announced that all wrestlers would have to pay a $5 wrestling license fee, a rule that
was similar to New York and in other locations. Previously, the commission collected
$5 from a wrestler for every main event appearance at the Montreal Forum, and $1
from a wrestler for every supporting appearance.
The May 8, 1944 edition of the Montreal Gazette reported that Maple Leaf Gardens
had a profit of $210,739 in 1943 before taxes, compared to only $190,192 the year
prior. The final $80,000 on its original mortgage was said to have been paid off on
January 15. The original mortgage was $750,000.
In May 1944, there was plenty of controversy surrounding the recognition of World
Heavyweight Champion in Montreal. For a period of time, there were three separate
claimants to the World Heavyweight Title. The Montreal Gazette recognized them as
the champion of the Montreal Athletic Commission, the champion of the American
Wrestling Association, and the champion of the New England territory. In reality, these
championships all belonged to the Quinn-Bowser troupe, and was being done to spice
up the various wrestling shows during war time.
The championship situation in Montreal was very different from the situation in Boston.
In Montreal, the championship entanglement began on February 17, 1944 at the
Forum when The Golden Terror beat local titleholder Yvon Robert in three falls, only
to then be disqualified by the official for illegal tactics. According to the storyline, the
"American Wrestling Association" recognized Terror's victory over Robert, and gave
him their support as heavyweight champion. The local Montreal commission, however,
continued to recognize Robert. Montreal newspapers credited Sandor Szabo as being
the champion in Boston, and acknowledged that the latter had a victory over Robert in
that city (3/22/44).
This triad of champions remained in place until May 3, 1944 when Robert toppled the
Terror and unified their two claims. At that point, it would have appeared that Robert
was the champion in Montreal and recognized by the AWA. But the Montreal
Commission had other plans. On May 9, the Montreal A.C. announced recognition of
Szabo as the heavyweight champion, citing the win by Szabo over Robert in Boston. It
wasn't taken into consideration that Szabo's victory came back on March 22, and
Robert had been billed as the local champion in Montreal throughout the period after
The AWA also dropped recognition of Robert and gave support to Szabo, making
Szabo the unified champion in Boston, Montreal, and by the AWA. Robert,
incidentally, still claimed to be the champion. The situation was entirely convoluted. In
a span of a short time (May 3-May 9, 1944), Robert went from being a heavyweight
titleholder recognized in Montreal and by the AWA to having no commission or
organization behind him. His claim to the title was his own. The Montreal Commission
and the AWA did state that Robert was the number one contender, and Quinn
immediately booked a match between Robert and Szabo in Montreal to settle the
situation once and for all.
About 7,000 fans saw Szabo beat Robert in Montreal on May 17, 1944 and unify their
claims. Their feud continued, but Szabo appeared to have the upper hand after
winning their rematch by disqualification. The build-up and publicity was sharp in the
newspapers. First, Szabo refused to meet Robert again. Then, Robert pleaded with
the commission, and got sanction for a title match. After that, Quinn told Szabo he'd
be suspended locally if he didn't defend his title, so Szabo agreed. Then came the
debate over who'd referee. Former heavyweight boxing champion Jack Sharkey was
agreed to. Finally, it was added that Robert would retire if he didn't win over Szabo.
Montreal fans and Eddie Quinn were not having their top face retire prematurely.
That's why Robert went over Szabo on June 14, 1944 and captured the World
Heavyweight Title. Robert's championship claim was limited to the Montreal territory,
and Szabo remained titleholder in Boston.
The interesting booking patterns continued when, after Frank Sexton beat Ed
"Strangler" Lewis and demanded a title shot, Robert refused to meet him. On July 14,
1944, the Montreal Gazette reported that the "American Wrestling Association has
already suspended Robert for failure to complete his contract to wrestle the former
midwestern football star." Interestingly, Quinn, around this same time, was just
returning from Saguenay, where he'd traveled with New York "boxing figure" Max
The January 24, 1958 edition of the Montreal Gazette reported that Bob Lortie and
Terry Garvin were trainers for sixty youngsters from the Lake Shore who were
competing in an amateur tournament at the Dorval Sports Centre the following
Monday. The tournament was being staged under the jurisdiction of the Quebec
Amateur Wrestling Commitee and the AAU of Canada.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Montreal Wrestling Territory