By Tim Hornbaker

      Once a year, the members of the National Wrestling Alliance converged to discuss the
inner workings of professional wrestling.  Huddled around cluttered tables in smoke-filled
conference rooms, these men spent the weekend arguing about various topics, gossiping,
and personally mixing an awesome combination of jealousy, suspiciousness, and delight in
their individual clout.  It was an exhausting effort, and the individuals partaking in the
conventions smugly returned to their home territories to run their businesses as they saw fit.  
With membership in the NWA, their promotions were safe from outside influences, and all of
the unique benefits that the organization provided, would be exploited to the maximum.

      The National Wrestling Alliance was a safe-haven for these like-minded booking agents.  
In a turbulent wrestling world, membership meant a level of stability and protection,
particularly against rival promoters seeking to set up shop in their exclusive territories.  They
also traded talent freely, which kept a steady rotation of wrestlers on the circuit.  Additional
factors like mandatory appearances of the World Heavyweight champion and the intimidating
threat of blacklisting by the entire organization if crossed, gave proof of the tangible
advantage of being associated with the NWA.

      Additionally, there were social connotations, bringing together the best minds in wrestling
to swap stories and to both lament and boast about the happenings in their territory.  Most of
the members weren’t exactly afraid to brag and were usually in the hunt to obtain more power
one way or another.  The exclusivity of membership bolstered fragile egos, and during the
first five years of its existence, there were no limits to the rules it could impose on the
wrestling business.  Flaunting its power without fear, the NWA was immensely shortsighted as
it consolidated all authority over the profession, and formed a monopoly that slowly began to
strangle competition.

      The Alliance was no longer a minor Midwestern organization, but an international
conglomerate representing hundreds of promoters.  Soon, it was hard to ignore its nefarious
actions.  Complainants griped to the Department of Justice and in 1956, the U.S. Government
forced the NWA membership to sign a Consent Decree, formally agreeing to end its
monopolistic actions.  Many changes took place in the years that followed, and there was a
considerable decline in Alliance participation.  By 1958, the NWA was near death, and few
saw little hope of it surviving the year.

      Over the course of 10 years, the National Wrestling Alliance saw amazing growth and
prosperity, then a stunning reversal.  It was nothing like professional wrestling had ever seen
before, and will never see anything like it again.  Behind closed doors at the yearly
conventions, there was a unique blend of manipulators – some of them honest, others simply
corrupt and self absorbed.  Together, the NWA membership combined to direct pro wrestling,
and the most significant decisions were made at the annual meetings.  It affected the
bookers, promoters, wrestlers, and finally, the product fans saw in the ring.  This information,
as a whole, has never been made completely available.

1948 – The National Wrestling Alliance is Born

Date:  July 18, 1948
Location:  Gold Room of the Hotel President in Waterloo, Iowa
In Attendance:  Paul L. “Pinkie” George, Max Clayton, Orville Brown, Sam Muchnick, Wally
Karbo

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        The expanded National Wrestling Alliance (separate from the Iowa-based NWA)
                      was organized
      •        The National Wrestling Alliance was defined as a “cooperative group in wrestling”
                      with each member running their own territories without interference from other
                      members
      •        Only one heavyweight and one junior heavyweight champion would be recognized
                      and the initial NWA champions were Orville Brown (heavyweight) and Billy
                      Goelz (j.h)
      •        Orville Brown had to post a $5,000 forfeit and Goelz a $1,000 forfeit as “insurance
                      for this group that said champions will  not run out or refuse to defend their
                      title”
      •        Champion will receive 10% of the gate for matches
      •        The first temporary chairman-president was Pinkie George
      •        The NWA was to “act as their own commission to police wrestling, and any wrestler
                      who does anything detrimental to wrestling, or if any club of this group should
                      suspend a wrestler, the suspension will be accepted by the whole group.”
      •        Fred Kohler of Chicago reportedly agreed to the NWA principles by telegram

1948 – 1st Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 25, 1948
Location:  Dyckman Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Members:  6
In Attendance:  Paul L. “Pinkie” George, Max Clayton, Orville Brown, Tony Stecher, Sam
Muchnick, Frankie Talaber (representing Al Haft), Bert Ruby (representing Harry Light)

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        The charter members of the NWA were, officially, George, Muchnick, Stecher,
                      Haft, Light, and George Simpson.  Simpson was, essentially, a co-member
                      with Brown – since Brown was an active wrestler and it couldn’t be known
                      publically that he was affiliated with the behind-the-scenes leadership of the
                      Alliance; Fred Kohler did not yet join.  Max Clayton also had endorsed the
                      NWA “agreement,” but was not a member.
      •        It was determined that all decisions of the Alliance would be made by majority vote
      •        NWA World Champion Orville Brown had to post $2,500 with the secretary-
                      treasurer by November 1, 1948 as a forfeit and another $2,500 each
                      additional time he beat a recognized claimant – the forfeit would not exceed
                      $10,000
      •        A meeting would be held at least once a year to be determined by the president
      •        Each charter member would post $100 upon signing the “agreement” (by-laws) of
                      the NWA and post $50 each succeeding year; new members had to pay $150
      •        Recognition of a junior heavyweight champion held in abeyance until next meeting
      •        Officers elected: George (President), Haft (V.P), Muchnick (Secretary-Treasurer)

1949 – 2nd Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  November 25-27, 1949
Location:  Claridge Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
Members:  20
In Attendance:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Tony Stecher, Harry Light,
Pearl Christy, Sam Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul
Bowser, Paul Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Al Karasick, Johnny Doyle, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch,
Jerry Meeker, Eddie Quinn, (the following attended, but were not members) Bobby Bruns,
Billy Thom, Lloyd Carter, Gust Karras, Leon Balkin, Ed McLemore, George D. Simpson, Wally
Karbo, Bill Atkinson, Les Wolfe, Ted Thye, Martin Thesz

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        In September 1949, Sam Avey and Fred Kohler joined, and the group had eight
                      members
      •        Morris Sigel and Max Clayton joined shortly thereafter; Clayton became a member
                      after the Lou Thesz-Sam Muchnick war in St. Louis ended due to a conflict
                      involving the Dusek Brothers, who were affiliated with Clayton in Omaha and
                      also had loyalty to Thesz
      •        10 booking agents joined the NWA at the November 1949 convention
      •        NWA World champion Orville Brown was booked to wrestle National Wrestling
                      Association World champion Lou Thesz on November 25, 1949 in St. Louis,
                      but was critically injured in a car accident on November 1, 1949
      •        Lou Thesz was picked by a special championship committee to be the National
                      Wrestling Alliance World champion, replacing Brown and Leroy McGuirk was
                      selected to be the NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion
      •        Thesz would be booked by Muchnick and McGuirk booked by Avey
      •        Thesz was asked for a $2,500 forfeit and McGuirk $1,000; called a “performance
                      bond;” Thesz’s forfeit would be held by Haft and Stecher.  McGuirk’s forfeit
                      would be held by Kohler and Sigel
      •        It was determined that Thesz wrestle Orville Brown when the latter was ready for a
                      match; it was not known at the time that Brown’s career as an active wrestler
                      was over because of the injuries he sustained in the auto accident
      •        A $25 per member assessment was arranged for the Ed Lewis Fund, to be sent
                      monthly
      •        National Wrestling Association members were reportedly on hand to merge
                      interests with the Alliance
      •        A banquet was held on Sunday, November 27 to end the convention
      •        Officers elected: George (President), Haft (V.P), Muchnick (Secretary-Treasurer)

1950 – 3rd Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 8-10, 1950
Location:  Baker Hotel, Dallas, Texas
Members:  24
Membership:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Tony Stecher, Harry Light, Pearl
Christy, Sam Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul Bowser, Paul
Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Johnny Doyle, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch, Eddie Quinn, Billy Wolfe, Ed
Don George, Dave Reynolds, Cowboy Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Both Jerry Meeker and Al Karasick left the NWA prior to the meeting
      •        Billy Wolfe, Ed Don George and Dave Reynolds joined the NWA before the
                      meeting
      •        Added at the Dallas meeting were Cowboy Luttrall, Mike London and Joe Gunther
      •        Sam Muchnick was elected to his first term as NWA President
      •        Leroy McGuirk was injured earlier in the year and the NWA World Junior Title was
                      declared vacant; a tournament was recommended by the junior heavyweight
                      championship committee to fill the vacancy.
      •        There was talk of Ed Lewis accompanying World Heavyweight champion Lou
                      Thesz more often
      •        Fred Kohler made a motion to prevent NWA members from working with non-
                      members and it was defeated 8-1
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Sigel (V.P.), McGuirk (Second
                      V.P.), Avey (Treasurer),

1951 – 4th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 7-9, 1951
Location:  Mayo Hotel, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Members:  36
Membership:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Tony Stecher, Harry Light, Pearl
Christy, Sam Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul Bowser, Paul
Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Johnny Doyle, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch, Eddie Quinn, Billy Wolfe, Ed
Don George, Dave Reynolds, Cowboy Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther, Joe “Toots”
Mondt, Rudy Dusek, Leonard Schwartz, Al Karasick, Sam Menacker, Don Owen, Larry
Tillman, Tex Hager, Jim Crockett, Bill Lewis, Cliff Maupin, and Dory Detton.

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Before the end of 1950, Joe “Toots” Mondt and Rudy Dusek became members,
                      and Fred Kohler resigned, and the NWA had 25 members at that time.
      •        Around January 1951, Kohler rejoined and Leonard Schwartz (also of Chicago)
                      became a member.  The NWA had 27 bookers associated with the group.
      •        Al Karasick rejoined the NWA in April 1951, becoming the 28th member
      •        At the 1951 convention, 8 new members were added, giving them 36 in total.  
                      These new members were Sam Menacker, Don Owen, Larry Tillman, Tex
                      Hager, Jim Crockett, Bill Lewis, Cliff Maupin, and Dory Detton.
      •        Applications from Al Mayer, Ted Thye, Harry Newman, and two Cuban promoters,
                      were rejected for membership
      •        It was agreed that the entire NWA membership would recognize a single
                      heavyweight and junior heavyweight champion by February 1, 1952
      •        Tony Stecher, Chairman of the Heavyweight Committee, recommended that each
                      territory develop contenders for the heavyweight championship
      •        Stecher noted that Verne Gagne, Mike DiBiase, Leo Nomellini, Pat O’Connor, and
                      Ray Gunkel were outstanding challengers to the heavyweight throne, who
                      possessed the “necessary ability, personality, and appearance”
      •        Fred Kohler, speaking for the Junior Heavyweight Championship Committee, told
                      membership that the committee was pleased with Verne Gagne as champion
                      and “hoped he would continue undefeated during the coming season,”
                      according to the meeting minutes
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Ed Don George (V.P.),
                      McGuirk (2nd V.P.), Avey (Treasurer)

1952 – 5th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 5-7, 1952
Location:  Miramar Hotel, Santa Monica, California
Members:  38
Membership:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Tony Stecher, Harry Light, Orville
Brown, Sam Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul Bowser, Paul
Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Johnny Doyle, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch, Eddie Quinn, Billy Wolfe, Ed
Don George, Dave Reynolds, Cowboy Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther, Ignacio Martinez,
Rudy Dusek, Leonard Schwartz, Al Karasick, Sam Menacker, Don Owen, Stu Hart, Tex
Hager, Jim Crockett, Bill Lewis, Cliff Maupin, Dory Detton, Bob Murray/Tex Porter, Salvador
Lutteroth
In Attendance:  Sam Muchnick, Ed Don George, Leroy McGuirk, Sam Avey, Morris Sigel,
Pinkie George, Tony Stecher, Jack Britton for Harry Light, Orville Brown, Fred Kohler, Paul
Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Hugh Nichols, Johnny Doyle, Roy Welch, Dave Reynolds, Cowboy
Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther, Pedro Martinez, Frank Tunney, Eddie Quinn, Al Karasick,
Billy Wolfe, Don Owen, Tex Hager, Dory Detton, Sam Menacker

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Orville Brown, the longtime silent partner in the Kansas City Booking Office,
                      replaced Pearl Christy as the official representative in the NWA
      •        Ignacio “Pedro” Martinez purchased the Manhattan Booking Agency in New York
                      City and replaced “Toots” Mondt in the membership
      •        Stu Hart bought out Larry Tillman in Calgary and replaced him in the membership
      •        New members at the Santa Monica convention were Bob Murray/Tex Porter of
                      Seattle and Salvador Lutteroth of Mexico City.
      •        Johnny Doyle hosted the Santa Monica convention
      •        The NWA sponsored as World Light Heavyweight champion, and it became one of
                      three championships officially recognized by the organization as a whole, after
                      the world heavyweight and world junior heavyweight
      •        Annual dues were increased to $100
      •        A Leader Dogs for the Blind Fund was discussed
      •        James Dow lectured the membership about an official NWA calendar
      •        It was reported that members spent $1,800 on food, which came out of the
                      Alliance treasury
      •        Johnny Doyle told the Justice Department that the blacklist was established at this
                      convention and that members notified each other by postcard with the names
                      of the wrestlers they wanted suspended listed in red ink.  The NWA
                      membership, according to Doyle, went forward with the plan even though they
                      knew it was illegal.
      •        James Dow of the Louis F. Dow Co. spoke to the membership about creating a
                      National Wrestling Alliance calendar, and it was subject to the approval of a
                      committee appointed by the president
      •        The next meeting was slated for the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Fred Kohler (V.P.), McGuirk
                      (2nd V.P.), Avey (Treasurer)

1953 – 6th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 4-6, 1953
Location:  Hubbard Room, Blackstone Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
Members:  38
Membership:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Tony Stecher, Harry Light, Orville
Brown, Sam Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul Bowser, Paul
Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Johnny Doyle, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch, Eddie Quinn, Billy Wolfe, Ed
Don George, Dave Reynolds, Cowboy Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther, Joe “Toots”
Mondt, Rudy Dusek, Leonard Schwartz, Al Karasick, Sam Menacker, Don Owen, Stu Hart,
Tex Hager, Jim Crockett, Bill Lewis, Cliff Maupin, Dory Detton, Bob Murray, Salvador Lutteroth

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Joe “Toots” Mondt returned to the membership, replacing Ignacio Martinez
      •        Leroy McGuirk, who worked as the matchmaker for NWA member Sam Avey in
                      Tulsa, was sometimes referred to as a member in the Alliance
      •        Heavyweight Championship Committee Chairman Fred Kohler reported that Thesz
                      had appeared in 32 NWA territories as champion
      •        Members refused to take a firm stance on the Billy Wolfe-Mildred Burke feud
      •        The NWA ratified a proposal eliminating any official supervision of women’s
                      wrestling
      •        The Health and Welfare Committee, made up of Kohler, Pinkie George, and Ed
                      Don George, proposed offering insurance benefits for wrestlers, bookers, and
                      promoters, but the measure was voted down 25-5 in a secret ballot; members
                      agreed to discuss the matter further
      •        Verne Gagne was recognized as the United States Heavyweight champion, a
                      “sectional” championship, which was not to interfere with Lou Thesz’s
                      recognition as World titleholder; the U.S. Title was sanctioned by Fred Kohler
                      of Chicago only, not by the entire NWA
      •        The NWA affirmed the rule that no member could sell their membership without the
                      organization’s approval
      •        Complaints about other members had to be sent to the NWA President and
                      submitted to the entire group in the latter’s bulletins
      •        Sectional groups within the NWA were permitted, but could not establish its own
                      rules
      •        Wrestling films were a problem and a motion was made by Fred Kohler to compel
                      all makers of wrestling films to announce during their broadcast that they are
                      films and the date of which the films were made; the motion was carried
                      unanimously; problems were arising where matches from several years before
                      featured wrestlers getting beaten, who were currently starring in the territory
                      the films were being shown; this had a negative effect on box office numbers;
                      the NWA wanted to get the FCC involved in the matter
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Kohler (V.P.), McGuirk (2nd
                      V.P.), Avey (Treasurer)
      •        After the meetings, Muchnick told the press:  “This has been the most successful
                      convention in the history of the Alliance.”
      •        The meeting minutes were prepared by the Chicago office and distributed to
                      Muchnick, however, Muchnick felt the minutes were poorly recorded and
                      requested that it be redone; Kohler submitted a revised meeting minutes and
                      signed his name, “with apologies”

1954 – 7th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 3-5, 1954
Location:  Claridge Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
Members:  39
Membership:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Tony Stecher, Harry Light, Orville
Brown, Sam Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul Bowser, Paul
Jones, Joe Malcewicz, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch, Eddie Quinn, Billy Wolfe, Ed Don George,
Dave Reynolds, Cowboy Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Rudy
Dusek, Leonard Schwartz, Al Karasick, Sam Menacker, Don Owen, Stu Hart, Tex Hager, Jim
Crockett, Bill Lewis, Cliff Maupin, Dory Detton, Bob Murray, Salvador Lutteroth, Cal Eaton,
Rod Fenton
In Attendance:  Sam Muchnick, Sam Avey, Orville Brown, Max Clayton, Jim Crockett, Dory
Detton, Rudy Dusek, Pinkie George, Ed Don George, Joe Gunther, Al Haft, Tex Hager, Stu
Hart, Paul Jones, Al Karasick, Mike London, Salvador Lutteroth with Salvador Lutteroth Jr.,
Cowboy Luttrall, Joe Malcewicz, Cliff Maupin, Sam Menacker, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Bob Murray,
Hugh Nichols, Don Owen, Eddie Quinn, Dave Reynolds, Frank Tunney with Billy Watson, Roy
Welch with Nick Gulas, Billy Wolfe, Jim Barnett for Fred Kohler, George Linnehan for Paul
Bowser, Jim Crockett for Bill Lewis, Jack Britton for Harry Light, Sam Muchnick for Leonard
Schwartz, Frank Burke for Morris Sigel, Wally Karbo for Tony Stecher; with Dennis Stecher

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Early in 1954, Johnny Doyle sold out in Southern California and was replaced by
                      Cal Eaton; Eaton’s application was unanimously approved
      •        Rod Fenton of Tucson, AZ was added to the membership; unanimously approved
      •        In May 1954, the long promotional war between Morris Sigel and Ed McLemore in
                      Texas came to a peaceful conclusion
      •        On May 25, 1954, Morris Sigel resigned as the chairman of the Television
                      Committee.  Sam Muchnick, in turn, appointed Leonard Schwartz chairman.
      •        In May 1954, Sam Menacker (El Paso) and Dory Detton (Amarillo) worked out their
                      problems
      •        The 1954 convention was originally scheduled to be held in New Orleans between
                      September 3-5, 1954.
      •        Muchnick was authorized to fine members $25 if they were late to the Saturday
                      meeting
      •        The NWA rejected the membership applications Nick Gulas, Ray Fabiani, and
                      Gorilla Ramos because they did not operate separate booking offices and
                      were not qualified for membership
      •        The applications of Pedro Martinez and Ed Contos were tabled until the report of
                      the Grievance Committee; later, Martinez was rejected because membership
                      could not be purchased “from the federal government through bankruptcy of
                      another members territory,” according to the meeting minutes
      •        Promoter Ray Fabiani, who was not a member, sent a letter to the NWA
                      requesting that Philadelphia be an “open city,” allowing promoters to obtain
                      wrestlers from any booking office they wanted; this was rejected by the NWA
                      after a vote, 25-11; Philadelphia was returned to “Toots” Mondt and Rudy
                      Dusek
      •        Baltimore, Albuquerque, and Roswell were to remain “open cities,” and the
                      decision was passed unanimously by the membership
      •        Frank Tunney complained that Larry Kasaboski of North Bay was going into his
                      towns and under-bidding him to promoters
      •        Hugh Nichols complained that Fred Kohler went to California to under-bid him for a
                      live TV show, but this was denied by Jim Barnett; Barnett said he’d take a lie
                      detector test to prove it
      •        The membership rejected the idea of changing the organization’s name to the
                      “International Wrestling Alliance”
      •        Lou Thesz, Baron Leone, and Frank Stojack were all praised for their work as
                      official NWA World champion in the heavyweight, junior heavyweight, and light
                      heavyweight divisions, respectively
      •        It was determined that the next heavyweight champion would have to post more
                      money with the NWA as a forfeit than Thesz had
      •        Members wanted Thesz to wrestle four times a week; his arriving territory would
                      always pay his expenses; for instance, if he was traveling from Amarillo to
                      Chicago, Chicago would pay his one-way expenses
      •        There were complaints that Thesz had not been advertised as champion in
                      Chicago, and Barnett reaffirmed that Verne Gagne was billed as the “U.S.
                      Heavyweight Television champion”
      •        An “NWA Official Calendar” was shown to the membership, put out by the Chicago
                      office, that didn’t advertise Thesz or Leone as champions; Muchnick was to
                      notify the Louis F. Dow Co. and Fred Kohler that “NWA” was not to be used
                      after the 1955 calendar, and that Thesz and Leone must be advertised as
                      champions; if these were not followed, legal action would be taken
      •        Chairman of the Television Committee, Dave Reynolds, told members that his
                      committee recommended a ban on all future filming of wrestling matches;
                      members in Chicago, Dallas, and Hollywood, where they filmed bouts,  all
                      considered the recommendation; A formal decree stating that the NWA was
                      “against filming of matches by any member,” and that “members must stop
                      filming wrestling matches when existing contracts” expired, was passed
                      unanimously
      •        Pinkie George offer a re-organization plan in which the majority of the work of the
                      NWA, including booking the NWA World Heavyweight champion, would be
                      done by an Executive Secretary, and the position of President would be
                      strictly an honorary position; the plan was tabled until the next meeting
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Frank Tunney (V.P.),
                      McGuirk (2nd V.P), Avey (Treasurer), Jim Barnett (Recording Secretary)

1955 – 8th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  September 2-4, 1955
Location:  Claridge Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
Members:  38
Membership:  Paul “Pinkie” George, Al Haft, Sam Muchnick, Harry Light, Orville Brown, Sam
Avey, Fred Kohler, Morris Sigel, Max Clayton, Frank Tunney, Paul Bowser, Paul Jones, Joe
Malcewicz, Hugh Nichols, Roy Welch, Eddie Quinn, Billy Wolfe, Dave Reynolds, Cowboy
Luttrall, Mike London, Joe Gunther, Leonard Schwartz, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Rudy Dusek, Al
Karasick, Don Owen, Stu Hart, Tex Hager, Jim Crockett, Bill Lewis, Cliff Maupin, Salvador
Lutteroth, Cal Eaton, Rod Fenton, Dennis Stecher, Dr. Karl Sarpolis, Pedro Martinez, Billy
Watson
In Attendance:  Sam Muchnick, Orville Brown, Cal Eaton, Joe Gunther, Paul Jones, Mike
London, Cliff Maupin, Eddie Quinn (and proxy for Rudy Dusek), Dennis Stecher, Frank
Tunney, Max Clayton, Rod Fenton, Al Haft, Fred Kohler, Salvador Lutteroth, Joe “Toots”
Mondt, Dave Reynolds, Roy Welch, Paul Bowser, Jim Crockett (and proxy for Bill Lewis), Paul
“Pinkie” George, Stu Hart, Harry Light, Cowboy Luttrall, Hugh Nichols, Leonard Schwartz, Billy
Wolfe,
Frank Burke (proxy for Morris Sigel), Sam Avey (proxy for Leroy McGuirk), Frank Malcewicz
(proxy for Joe Malcewicz)

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Founding member Tony Stecher died in October 1954.  His son Dennis took over
                      as the local Minneapolis NWA representative; the membership stood in
                      silence as a tribute to Stecher shortly after the meeting began on Friday
                      afternoon
      •        Dr. Karl Sarpolis replaced Dory Detton on the membership roster after buying the
                      Amarillo booking office
      •        Prior to this meeting, Sam Menacker of El Paso ended his NWA membership
      •        Pedro Martinez of Buffalo and Billy Watson of Seattle were new members,
                      replacing Ed Don George and Bob Murray, respectively
      •        Paul Bowser, Don Owen, and Leonard Schwartz had failed to pay their annual
                      dues and their membership was at risk
      •        Muchnick talked at length about the Department of Justice investigation
      •        The NWA membership held a vote whether or not to dissolved the organization
                      and there was a unanimous vote not to
      •        The NWA attorney Harry Soffer spoke to the membership and suggested changes
                      to the By-Laws in an attempt to silence the charges of monopoly; Soffer took
                      questions
      •        Pinkie George discussed the Sonny Myers case against himself and the NWA
      •        The NWA voted unanimously that the organization would not be responsible in any
                      lawsuits involving any specific member unless the NWA itself was named in
                      the suit
      •        Joe Malcewicz was the chairman of the Championship Committee, Fred Kohler of
                      the Grievance Committee, and “Toots” Mondt of the Membership Committee,
                      Sam Avey was head of the Junior Heavyweight Committee
      •        The membership application of Henry Irslinger of Johannesburg, South Africa was
                      held in abeyance because the NWA By-Laws stated that “only members be
                      admitted from United States, Canada, and Mexico,” according to the meeting
                      minutes, and that the By-Laws had to be altered to admit Irslinger
      •        The membership applications of Pat O’Dowdy and Joe Marshall were rejected
      •        Ed Contos of Baltimore came in to discuss admission into the NWA, and,
                      according to the meeting minutes, Contos “allegedly made a remark before
                      the meeting that if he did not become a member he would tear the Alliance
                      wide open;” Contos told the membership that he wanted to join the Alliance “to
                      protect my territory,” and that it was a “great organization;” the application of
                      Contos was tabled until the next meeting of the membership committee
      •        Fred Kohler agreed not to book any more shows into Las Vegas starting October
                      1, which had been a point of contention for Hugh Nichols and Cal Eaton; in
                      response to Kohler’s announcement, Nichols and Eaton agreed not to run
                      Albuquerque against Mike London; it was decided that if someone broke this
                      agreement, they would be expelled from the NWA
      •        Tex Hager wished to be reinstated in the NWA and was willing to pay any back
                      dues and assessments by October 1; Muchnick recommended that he be
                      reinstated that the membership passed it unanimously
      •        Muchnick did not want to be President again and that he did not want to book the
                      NWA champion any longer, but since Thesz personally requested that he
                      continue, Muchnick agreed to do one job or another – not both
      •        Muchnick told the membership that he’d received numerous complaints about
                      Thesz and wanted to know why no one was bringing them up on the floor of
                      the convention
      •        Members wanted Muchnick to accept reelection as NWA President and would only
                      stay on if he was guaranteed a salary of $15,000 annually, and the Alliance
                      unanimously agreed to pay him that amount; Muchnick had previously stated
                      that he didn’t want to depend on the NWA champion working dates to obtain a
                      salary
      •        Thesz and new NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion Edmund Francis were
                      both introduced to the membership
      •        Leonard Schwartz was having some problems with his business in Chicago and
                      wanted to buy Indianapolis and Rockford from Kohler to begin operating a
                      booking office; Kohler had recently purchased Indianapolis, it was noted, and
                      he wanted to get the business running before selling it to Schwartz
      •        Members still wanted to know why Kohler had the right to bill anyone as a United
                      States TV champion, and were reminded that it had been approved in 1953
      •        A vote took place selecting Tulsa as the site of the next NWA convention, with
                      Montreal and Chicago following
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Tunney (V.P.), McGuirk (2nd
                      V.P.), Salvador Lutteroth (3rd V.P.), Avey (Treasurer)

1956 – 9th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  August 31-September 1, 1956
Location:  Claridge Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
Members:  36
Membership:  Sam Muchnick, Frank Tunney, Salvador Lutteroth, Sam Avey, Orville Brown,
Jim Crockett, Cal Eaton, Pinkie George, Al Haft, Tex Hager, Stu Hart, Paul Jones, Fred
Kohler, Harry Light, Mike London, Cowboy Luttrall, Pedro Martinez, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Hugh
Nichols, Eddie Quinn, Dave Reynolds, Dr. Karl Sarpolis, Dennis Stecher, Roy Welch, Paul
Bowser, Max Clayton, Rudy Dusek, Rod Fenton, Joe Gunther, Al Karasick, Bill Lewis, Joe
Malcewicz, Cliff Maupin, Don Owen, Morris Sigel, Billy Wolfe
In Attendance:  Sam Muchnick, Frank Tunney, Salvador Lutteroth, Sam Avey, Orville Brown,
Jim Crockett, Cal Eaton, Pinkie George, Al Haft, Tex Hager, Stu Hart, Paul Jones, Fred
Kohler, Harry Light, Mike London, Cowboy Luttrall, Pedro Martinez, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Hugh
Nichols, Eddie Quinn, Dave Reynolds, Dr. Karl Sarpolis, Dennis Stecher, Roy Welch, Frank
Burke for Morris Sigel

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        Leonard Schwartz and Billy Watson were no longer members of the NWA
      •        24 members attended the NWA convention and all of them signed the Consent
                      Decree, which had resulted from the U.S. Government’s investigation into the
                      Alliance for antitrust violations; 10 others had signed the decree by mail; the
                      only two who hadn’t yet signed were Joe Malcewicz and Rod Fenton; the
                      document was soon going to be submitted to the Des Moines Federal Court
                      and if Malcewicz and Fenton hadn’t yet signed at that point, they were to be
                      expelled from the organization
      •        24 of the 36 members paid their annual dues of $100
      •        A By-Laws Committee was established to refine the document to conform to the
                      Consent Decree; it was comprised of Tunney, Avey, George, Kohler, Sarpolis,
                      Sigel, and Nichols
      •        The Edouard Carpentier-Lou Thesz World Title split was likely designed during
                      the meeting; the match took place on June 14, 1957 in Chicago and both
                      were booked as a claimant to the World Heavyweight Title following that match
      •        Officers elected:  Muchnick (President & Secretary), Tunney (V.P.), McGuirk (2nd
                      V.P.), Lutteroth (3rd V.P.), Avey (Treasurer)

1957 – 10th Annual National Wrestling Alliance Convention

Date:  August 23-25, 1957
Location:  Claridge Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
Members:  31
Membership:  Sam Muchnick, Frank Tunney, Salvador Lutteroth, Sam Avey, Orville Brown,
Jim Crockett, Cal Eaton, Pinkie George, Al Haft, Tex Hager, Stu Hart, Paul Jones, Fred
Kohler, Harry Light, Mike London, Cowboy Luttrall, Pedro Martinez, Joe “Toots” Mondt, Dave
Reynolds, Dr. Karl Sarpolis, Dennis Stecher, Roy Welch, Rod Fenton, Joe Gunther, Al
Karasick, Bill Lewis, Joe Malcewicz, Cliff Maupin, Don Owen, Morris Sigel, Billy Wolfe
Among those in attendance:  Sam Muchnick, Jack Pfefer, Cliff Maupin, Eddie Quinn

      
Highlights of Meeting & Notes:

      •        As of August 1957, the NWA had 31 members
      •        In the period following the 1956 convention, Hugh Nichols and Max Clayton died
      •        Eddie Quinn of Montreal walked out of the convention after displaying his anger at
                      the attendance of independent promoter Jack Pfefer; Quinn wrote a famous
                      letter to Muchnick outlining the situation and resigned from the NWA; Quinn
                      also pulled any co-recognition for Edouard Carpentier as “NWA” World
                      Heavyweight champion; Quinn also asked Muchnick to return “Edouard
                      Carpentier’s $10,000,” which was likely held as a forfeit
      •        Members voted unanimously to continue the NWA
      •        It is likely that the membership and/or NWA Championship Committee discussed
                      putting the World Heavyweight Title on Dick Hutton; Hutton won the belt in
                      November 1957.
      •        On a copy of Sam Muchnick’s typed out speech, there are some handwritten
                      notes; it notes that the late Nichols had to be replaced on the heavyweight
                      championship committee and it notes that “Disq. Twice Lose Title,” which can
                      only mean that if a titleholder was disqualified twice, they’d lose their belt; this
                      may have been a proposal brought up at the convention, but it isn’t not known
                      whether it was or not
      •        Paul Bowser of Boston soon left the NWA
      •        Rudy Dusek of New York City retired
      •        By December 1957, the NWA only had 28 members; Cal Eaton and Rod Fenton
                      didn’t pay their annual dues and Paul Jones of Atlanta left the NWA; eight
                      members had left the group between the signing of the consent decree at
                      December 1957

      One of the most secretive topics of discussion at the annual conventions was the
determination of when and where one of the board-sponsored championships would change
hands.  The selection of a successor to the heavyweight, junior heavyweight, and light
heavyweight championships was a primary topic that was brought into the open yearly.  The
championship committee for each division had a vote, and it is uncertain whether or not the
NWA Board of Directors also had a say during this first decade of the organization’s
existence.

      In the heavyweight division, Thesz was champion between 1949 and ’56, and it can be
assumed that during the 1954 convention, members concocted the Leo Nomellini title split
that occurred on March 22, 1955 in San Francisco.  After that controversial match, Muchnick
booked both Thesz and Nomellini as title claimants, and this continued through July 15 when
Thesz beat Nomellini in St. Louis.  At the 1956 convention, the Edouard Carpentier ploy was
seemingly designed, and was enacted on June 14, 1957 when Carpentier beat Thesz by
disqualification in Chicago.  

      Carpentier and Thesz were both booked as rival claimants until the August convention,
when Carpentier’s manager Eddie Quinn left the NWA and pulled Carpentier from any future
Alliance bookings as titleholder.  Later in the year, Thesz desired to give up his
championship, and the NWA had already decided that Dick Hutton would succeed him.

      A lot of speculation has to be made on topics such as when the membership debated
title changes and the potential contenders.  One has to wonder how many times Verne
Gagne’s name legitimately came up as a replacement for Thesz, only to be shot down by
dissenting opinions.  Or Buddy Rogers for that matter.  Because there isn’t any
documentation, no one will know for sure what happened during these discussions.

      The same thing can be said about the most nefarious actions of the National Wrestling
Alliance, particularly when it came to blacklisting wrestlers and promoters.  Other than what
was told to Department of Justice investigators, little is known about what was actually said.  If
we did have an audio recording of one of these annual meetings, it is possible that the
overall public understanding of what kind of people NWA members were, would change.  And
not for the better.  Wrestling was a tough sport to regulate, no question about it, but when
you add power hungry egomaniacs and sense of reckless entitlement across the board, it
was dangerous.

      That’s why the Department of Justice sought to break the NWA monopoly.  Imagine
where professional wrestling would have ended up had the Government not stepped in?  The
ideas of domination over the profession were limitless and would have continued to spiral out
of control until reaching a breaking point.

      Even the fair minded Sam Muchnick, who had to regularly swim with sharks, was a player
in the overall scheme.  His willingness to cut every corner was far less than his
contemporaries, and he took the most pride in the National Wrestling Alliance than anyone
else.  Without his stable point of view, the NWA would never have survived.

      There are still tons and tons of secrets, concepts, rumors, innuendos, threats, and other
shenanigans that were said behind closed doors and never made public in any shape or
form.  No kayfabe breaking books were written by any of these members and basically, all of
these individuals took their knowledge and history to their graves.  This is basically what is
known based on surviving documents and Department of Justice interviews.  If more
information becomes available, I will add it to this article, or delete data that is proven
incorrect.  I keep thinking that in a basement somewhere, there are boxes and boxes of old
NWA documents that will shed additional light on the organization’s history.  But unfortunately
for the people who care about this stuff, the materials were likely discarded.

      One day, however, I might get a message from someone with a box full of answers to the
questions that remain…you never know.
National Wrestling Alliance Annual Conventions – 10 Years of
Closed Door Meetings Finally Revealed
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