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 - Bill Balch

Hello everybody.  Since this is my first article, I feel itís important that you know who I am and where I come from.  In future editions, I will talk about things that happened in the Golden Years of wrestling in the Southern California territory, from San Diego to Santa Maria.  And, I want you to know that I encourage questions.  If I donít know the answers, I will certainly try to look them up.

From 1970 to 1976, I was the Public Relations Director for the Hollywood Wrestling Office.  The office was upstairs at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles.  Before it was converted to an office it had been used as the area where Dick Lane conducted live interviews every Wednesday night on KTLA, channel 5.

I got my start in the business through a good friend of mine, Jeff Walton, who was at that time Publicity Director for Olympic Auditorium wrestling.  As was the case with everyone associated with the Olympic Auditoriumís wrestling operation, Jeff wore many hats.  One of these was promoting wrestling shows at the El Monte Legion Stadium.  As I said before, the Southern California territory stretched from San Diego to Santa Maria (actually, Santa Maria was never a draw for us.  Roy Shire ran more matches there from his Bay Area territory).  Even though each one of these arenas, or "clubs" had a different promoter, they were all under the banner of the Olympic.

Anyway, I had just been discharged from the Navy in January of 1970 and I looked Jeff up to pay him a visit.  Since we had both been wrestling fans as kids and shared the same interests and views on the subject, one thing led to another.  Before I knew it, I was taking tickets and ushering at El Monte.  By April, I was made ring announcer.

This was my christening, my baptismÖ my introduction into the business.  It was the first time I had heard the infamous word, "kayfabe."  I donĻt think anybody in the business ever forgets their first time in the dressing room.  Within the next couple of weeks I moved to a desk in the wrestling office and for the next few months I actually did do some PR work.  However, as time went on, more and more of my time was spent working other arenas in the territory.  Maintaining the Olympicís presence at the shows.

In the fall of 1970, I was working the clubs in Ventura, El Monte and San Bernardino.  It was about this time that KTLA gave notice that they were dropping wrestling.  It was a shock to all of us.  Wrestling had been a staple of channel 5 from its very beginning. 
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