British Columbia·Our Vancouver

Langley pro wrestling legend recalls fights with André the Giant, and a Russian bear

They are the local heroes of the golden age of professional wrestling, an era in the 1960s and 70s when the sport was viewed more as entertainment than sport.

Local wrestlers sparred during Golden era of professional wrestling

B.C. pro wrestling legend honoured

7 years ago
Duration 5:58
Don Leo's long career included wresting bears

They are the local heroes of the golden age of professional wrestling, an era in the 1960s and 70s when the sport played a large role in popular culture.

The Vancouver-based professional league  All Star Wrestling recently honoured four former professional wrestling legends -- Don Leo Jonathan, Ed "Moondog" Moretti, Bob Steele and the late Roy McClarty -- for their lifetime contributions in an event at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds in Surrey.

Jonathan, 84, sat down with CBC host Gloria Macarenko reminisce about his pro wrestling years.

"At that time, in the United States and Canada, you might have 40 or 50 matches going on in one night," Jonathan explained.

"This gave you a chance to train men. A lot of guys didn't get a main event until they had a hundred matches under their belt."

Jonathan battled in more than 3,000 matches during his career. They included bouts with the famous André the Giant, a French wrestler nearly seven feet tall, and even fights with bears, including a Russian black bear named Trotsky.

Although some of the bears were well-trained, Jonathan had his share of difficulties when it came to pinning down the 400-pound creatures. "It takes a little getting used to," he laughed.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now