Sunday, November 29, 2009

Old School Indian Wrestlers

Chief Wahoo McDaniels

Since the age of televised wrestling Native Americans have been characters, except for most recent years. I didn’t know how far back as my reference only goes so far as Chief Wahoo McDaniels, Well, the other day I was looking up the actor who played Luca Brasi in the Godfather and found his name was Lenny Montana. He did have some ties with the mob, Wikipedia called him an "associate" of the Colombo family. But he had spent years as a professional wrestler and had feuded with Chief Little Eagle. Reading on Chief Little Eagle led me to Chief Big Heart, and Chief Big Heart led me to Suni War Cloud. This is a whole tradition of Native wrestlers I had never heard of. And the people they feuded with include Grizzly Smith, Dick the Bruiser, Waldo Von Erich, Gorilla Monsoon, Bob Orton Sr. and my favorite Skandor Akbar. Suni War Cloud even got to act in the Jim Thorpe movie about the famed Sac and Fox athlete.

It must have been fun to watch American Indian wrestlers back then. The only downside is they all wore war bonnets. But with a nostalgic look, even that is appealing of a simpler time. I can imagine a promoter telling a Native athlete trying to get into professional wrestling if he was going to play the Indian angle he would have to wear a war bonnet. Then the athlete wondering where the heck he can get a war bonnet. Native American businesses do not sell many war bonnets. They are not a big seller.

Chief Jay Strongbow

In my day there was Wahoo McDaniel and Chief Jay Strongbow. I didn’t get to see Strongbow much growing up, as he was in the Northeastern promotions and I was in the Midwest/South. Then there was Tatanka. Never felt the kinship there as he was Lumbee. Wahoo was Chickasaw and Choctaw and played for the Oklahoma Sooners.

So, I wonder to this day what it would be like if old timers could wrestle in today's Native arenas. There are the big venues like the Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods but there are also a lot of smaller arenas. Places where there is ESPN boxing matches. The Citizen Potawatomi have a large venue that could have smaller pro wrestling matches. Most of the California casino tribes have forums for big events. I am just saying it would be neat to see Native wrestlers performing in Native arenas.

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