Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- David Galvan
couple of months ago, I received a phone call from VKM, the gentleman
who runs this fantastic website. We
spoke for a bit, talking about wrestling and the memories that it has
left on us both. Some
friends and I had decided to do a documentary called “Excitement in
the Air” which was a history/retrospective/informational study on
Portland wrestling. The
phrase ‘Excitement in the Air’ had been started by legend Lonnie
Mayne, but had been used by all announcers here in the Northwest.
Various websites had exploded with people wanting to know more
after the news broke.
our almost one year of filming this project, and almost 40 hours of
footage, we have come to meet some fantastic legends on the field of
this business and this region:
Buddy Rose, Rip Oliver, Dutch Savage, Barry Owen, Col. DeBeers,
Buddy Wayne, Moondog Morretti.
The stories we have collected for everyone to see will make
people laugh, grimace, and shake their heads in wonder.
know you are reading this and wondering why I am mentioning this.
simple my friends. When VKM
was looking for someone to write a monthly column about wrestling here
in the PNW, I volunteered. I
figured I could do it for six months.
Anything after that has probably already been covered by more
capable people than I. Yet,
I do hold an interesting perspective on the life and times here working
for Don Owen, Dean Silverstone and other promoters.
started watching wrestling as a child.
A very common time to start watching the sport.
I was attracted to the characters, the athletics, the stories,
and yes, the violence. I
followed the careers of Billy Jack, Tom Zenk and booed the likes of
Buddy Rose, Rip Oliver and the Assassin.
Amusing for me to find out that those who played the villains
have been the nicest to us.
mention our documentary for a couple of reasons; a cheap plug never hurt
to view the trailer of our project), and to let you all know that I am
somewhat qualified to write a column for six months.
this month being the first for us all, I have decided to share with all
of you my personal notes regarding the history of wrestling here in the
Northwest. This is by no
means to be considered perfect, or complete.
Since we have been focusing on Don Owen’s (and mentioning Dean
Silverstone and Billy Jack’s OWF) within the film itself, that is how
I put the history together. What
you are about to read here consists of almost a year of research for
this project. After most
paragraphs, you will see the names of wrestling persons whom we have
interviewed during our months of this project. They would be considered
the ‘source’ of the information.
is the official history that we will be using for our documentary (to be
shown at a film festival near you sometime in 2005!).
I hope that you will find it as interesting as we did.
Thye, an Australian, decides to come to Portland to promote boxing and
wrestling in 1925. He hires
an upstart named Herb Owen to be his assistant.
Herb was traditionally a manual laborer, but was injured at one
point, and was having a hard time getting work in Oregon as the main
industry here was logging at the time. (Mike Rodgers)
Owen steals promotion from Ted Thye by putting the company in his name
while Thye went home to Australia for a few weeks.
Due to the laws at the time, only one company could promote
wrestling and boxing in the state at the time.
Thye came back very angry, but Herb out smarted him, and Herb
unknowingly starts a wrestling empire that would last 67 years. Thye
eventually cooperated with the US Justice Department in an investigation
in the NWA. Thye’s
brother becomes US Senator in the mid-1950's (Mike Rodgers)
Herb promoted boxing originally, and then starts to promote wrestling, mostly light-weights. Don Owen, and his brother Elton, helped out with the promotion by setting up chairs and such. Elton and Don also were known to step in the ring to do some boxing. Elton was more of the ‘tough guy’, and also did a little wrestling since he had a good wrestling background when he was in college. (Barry Owen)