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 - Rich Tito

The International Amphitheatre located at 43rd and Halsted St. in Chicago was the home for Chicago's wrestling scene for years.  It was located around the famous Chicago Stockyards area and beside the wrestling that was held there it also played host to the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cougar WHL hockey team, outdoors shows, auto shows and the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Big name music stars that played there included The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. We will only talk about the wrestling in this famous building in this column.

There were two entrances to the place, a west side and an east side. Halsted St. led to the east entrance and the west entrance went out to the huge parking lot. The west parking lot was where you parked and it was a gathering place for the many fans that used to wait to catch a glimpse of their favorite wrestlers coming to the building. They all parked in a designated area very close to the west entrance. In warmer weather you were always able to get an autograph or a picture from Pepper Gomez, Moose Cholak or Wilbur Snyder. The heels always played their role to the hilt and never signed anything in front of a crowd, but if alone you could get them to sign. All the years that I attended, I never saw Bruiser sign a single autograph.

The Sirloin Room was on the north end of the complex. This restaurant played host to Promoter Bob Luce's well attended pre-match steak dinner. These were held about two hours before bell time. For a set price you would receive a ringside ticket, a lucky number program and a great steak dinner.  Luce would always be available to chat, pose for pictures and sign  autographs. The big extra was that Luce would always bring a wrestler along to do the same thing.

Art Thomas, Bob Ellis, Wilbur Snyder, Paul Christy, Angelo Poffo, Reggie Parks and Billy Red Cloud were among the ones that I met at these dinners. After dinner you just had to make the trek up to Bob Luce's Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, which was located on the 2nd floor of the arena.  It was not just all the AWA and WWA stars of the time that were enshrined but wrestlers like Ray Gunkel, Freddie Blassie, Joe Blanchard and Dickie Steinborn, that hadn't appeared in years in Chicago.  More...

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