Saturday, December 20, 2014

Spotlight-Warren Bockwinkel

Plenty of people have heard of AWA legend Nick Bockwinkel but how many know of his father, Warren Bockwinkel? Warren was born May 21, 1911, and died March 24, 1986. Warren helped train his son Nick as well as wrestling great Wilbur Snyder. He wrestled mainly from the 1930's to the mid-1950's, working in St. Louis mainly but also in places like California and Calgary, Alberta.

Warren was one of the first wrestlers to put Lou Thesz over as Lou was receiving his first major push to the top of the wrestling world. Bockwinkel worked out with a young Lou Thesz in St. Louis and even introduced him to St. Louis promoter Tom Packs, and the two were close. On January 8, 1937, Bockwinkel and Thesz were scheduled for their big match in St. Louis but bad weather postponed it to the following day. On January 9, Thesz beat Bockwinkel for the St. Louis Championship. He was the #4 draw, overall, in 1944, and helped solidify Bill Longson's reign on top in St. Louis. For their match on July 23, 1943, they drew 10,197 and for a rematch on February 11, 1944, they drew an even larger 11,470.

Throughout the rest of the forties, he continued working in the St. Louis territory, as well as Hamilton, ON and Buffalo, NY.
Warren and Nick Bockwinkel
Warren worked Northern California/San Francisco in 1951-1952 for Joe Malciewicz, most importantly working with Killer Kowalski. Warren jumped to Southern California 1954 and worked often with Gene Kiniski. By this point, he began teaming with Nick and wrestled on the same cards as him in Los Angeles/Bakersfield.

By 1954, Warren was winding down his career in the Buffalo, Calgary, St. Louis, and Los Angeles territories. He may have worked Arizona as well but I don't currently have good Arizona records. Warren teamed with Mike Dibiase to face John Tolos and Gene Kiniski in LA, on October 20, 1954, and they lost, with a subsequent rematch on November 10. By 1955, Warren had retired and only returned for a match with Hans Schmidt on October 2, 1957 in Los Angeles.

Besides wrestling, Bockwinkel worked as a truck driver for a shoe company. It was this occupation, according to Lou Thesz in his book Hooker, that stopped Warren from becoming a bigger star in the business. Bockwinkel was inducted into the Lou Thesz/George Tragos Hall of Fame in Waterloo, Iowa, as part of the Dan Gable Wrestling Museum, in 2010.

On a side note concerning Nick Bockwinkel, when he was a baby he wet himself after Thesz was holding him. Another side note is that Bockwinkel seemed to have wrestled and beaten George Zaharias' famous wife, Mildred “Babe, Didrikson, on March 17, 1936 in St. Louis. 

(Thanks to Pat Laprade for a little help writing this piece, check out his book Mad Dogs, Midgets, and Screw jobs:The Untold Story of How Montreal Shaped the World of Wrestling)

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