Hamilton

Friends and fans remember late Ticats legend Angelo Mosca as a 'real Hamiltonian'

Angelo Mosca was known as one of the toughest players in the CFL, but Hamiltonians remember the late legend as a kind, humble and respectful family man.

Mosca described as funny, humble family man who represented Hamilton better than almost anybody

Angelo Mosca was 84 when he died on Saturday after a long fight against Alzheimer's disease. The former Ticat and pro wrestler was beloved in Hamilton. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

When Lou Molinaro was at Hamilton's Raculmatese Club some 10 years ago, his hand disappeared for a brief moment.

"Angelo Mosca's hand was like the size of two baseball gloves put together," said the 57-year-old Hamiltonian, recalling his first handshake with Mosca.

"It was humongous, but it was meaty and you could feel the toughness in that hand. I mean it literally soaked up yours, you couldn't even see yours, [his hand] went all the way around it."

Molinaro said he was starstruck when meeting the larger-than-life athlete and hometown hero in a downtown club for Hamilton's Italian men. It would be the first of many run-ins between them.

And Molinaro is just one of countless people who will remember Mosca for his handshake and so much more.

Lou Molinaro, Jim Tieso and Greg Brisco post with Angelo Mosca for a picture at the Raculmatese Club in Hamilton's core in 2018. (Submitted by Lou Molinaro)

Mosca was 84 when he died on Saturday after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease.

The five-time Grey Cup champion, Canadian Football Hall of Famer and professional wrestler had a fierce reputation, but locals who knew him off the field and outside the ring saw another side of Mosca.

"He was just a really sweet gentleman too, the contrast of this tough guy," Molinaro said.

Mosca was family man who respected women

Peggy Chapman, 51, remembers being a CHML reporter and producer during the 1990s when she was trying to get an interview with a Tiger-Cats player.

"They were all in the locker room and I was too shy to go in. There was no on there to ask and as a young, female journalist, I didn't know the rules at another stadium," she said.

Enter Mosca.

"He just grabbed me by the arm and brought me in and said, 'Who do you need?' and he got me the players ... that was just him. He didn't think twice about helping out."

Chapman said her last encounter with him was in 2015 producing promotional videos for the Hamilton Bulldogs. She said he was respectful and gentle.

She said she regards him with the same pride as she does Lincoln Alexander.

"Two men, super successful in their professional field but just real Hamiltonians. You saw them on the streets of Hamilton, they could talk to anybody, they were just real people and real Hamiltonians," she said.

"They could've done anything in the world, lived anywhere, Hamilton was really home for them."

Former Hamilton mayor and MP Bob Bratina sits and chats with Ticats legend and former pro wrestler Angelo Mosca. (Submitted by Peggy Chapman)

Former Hamilton—East Stoney Creek MP and former city mayor Bob Bratina first met Mosca in 1958 and said he considers the tough guy a feminist.

"He always treated women very respectfully and I don't think anybody could accuse him of stepping over any bounds in a long career where the macho image of the big, tough football player was so strong," he said.

"I heard lots of things in the locker room but they never came from him ... that might be the most subtle reference to the inner workings of Angelo Mosca."

Mosca is a 'founding father' of Hamilton

David Watkins is a former Ticats employee who travelled with Mosca and Hamilton Spectator columnist Steve Milton to sell Mosca's book, Tell Me to My Face.

Watkins said Mosca loved to tell stories about wrestling stars like Andre the Giant but also stayed humble.

"He didn't talk down to anyone, he was a common man," Watkins said.

CFL Hall of Famer Angelo Mosca (68) had his jersey retired by the Tiger-Cats in 2015 at Tim Hortons Field. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)

Watkins and Bratina both said Mosca wasn't afraid to laugh at himself, with Bratina mentioning the giant once wore a pink ballerina frock and waved a wand for a fundraising event.

Bratina also said Mosca was a dedicated family man who was proud of his kids.

Bratina said his most powerful memory of Mosca was when his jersey was retired in 2015.

"When we walked out on the field, I saw Angelo starting to cry because ... to think he would live to see a new stadium full of people and all of them cheering Angelo Mosca, it was as though his life came to fulfilment."

He hopes the Ticats do something memorable to honour Mosca like sell some of his merchandise and have proceeds go toward Alzhiemer's research.

Molinaro said he considers Mosca to be a "founding father" of the city, even though he came from Massachusetts.

"Angelo Mosca is a representative of people that come to the city and fall in love with it," Molinaro said.

"This city is all heart but it also has a lot of grit and a lot of toughness and Angelo is all that."

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