WWE tag team legends The Hart Foundation
All the best,
Earl Black wrote: When I was a seaman aged 17, I sailed from London on a Shaw Saville ship, the Taranaki. On the way to Australia, I injured my right knee, and got water on the knee. It took several weeks to reach our first port of call, Sydney, and by then I had developed a bone infection. It turned into osteomylitis, an incurable disease in which the bones emit staphylococcus aureus bacteria into the bloodstream. Two 21 year old men died of it in the hospital I was in. I spent a year in hospital, with doctors rotating antibiotics before I was well enough to be shipped back to England aboard another Shaw saville ship, the Icenic. Eventually, I went back to work, but was warned that it could come back any time from 3 weeks to 3 years. Also, a sharp knock to the knee would set the osteomylitis off again. By the time I was wrestling in Calgary, I had suffered more attacks, but it had settled down and not bothered me for three years. One night I got into the ring with my partner Joe Tomasso, and was standing next to the ropes awaiting our opponents. Ed Whalen, the commentator, had a heavy steel microphone, and for some unknown reason, used it to deal a hard blow to my injured knee. The pain was intense. I wanted to kill him. He could have finished my career right there. I reached over the ropes and grabbed the collar of his jacket to pull him into the ring, but he wriggled out of it. He still had the microphone in his hand, the wire stretching out and the jacket hanging from it. I jumped out of the ring and chased him, but by now Stu Hart and security got in between us and saved his bacon. I never did like him, or the frivolous attitude he took to a serious business. I am sure it was him who destroyed the films of all my matches, even the championship ones. As owner of a small part of the Calgary promotion, he had the rights to the films, they did not have video in those days. He died some time ago, Bret Hart now has the films, but tells me there are none featuring me. I would love to show my sons what I was like in my heyday.
Earl Black wrote: When I started wrestling in 1965, I worked for Hal Morgan, an ex-wrestler who promoted in Sydney. There were hundreds of servicemen clubs, surf clubs, sailing clubs, rugby league clubs, soccer clubs etc. which had wrestling every week. The wrestlers were wrestling every night, sometimes twice a night, dashing from one venue to another. This is how we gained the experience which was to be so valuable in our careers. In my time, America had its small halls and independent promoters, and American novice wrestlers could always nip over the border to Canada. Gene Kiniski, Stu Hart, Rudy Kay, and Montreal promoters would give them a break. They could then return to America seasoned professionals. This opportunity is denied to people trying to make the grade in the business today. McMahon has tied up the industry, buying out or closing down small or independent promotions. The way he ended Stampede Wrestling, Stu Hart’s life work, was criminal. Aspiring wrestlers pay teachers to learn the basics, but wrestling in a gym is not like wrestling in front of a crowd of fans. The psychology and timing which is so important for a good match can only be learned in the ring. TNA has a successful promotion, but get all WWE cast-offs, so don’t need beginners. Every so often, even a top promotion must bring in new faces, which means that old faces must go. It is a cruel fact of life. There is no reason why McMahon cannot allow non-televised small halls to operate, or even run them himself. This would provide the future new faces. Some small promotions exist in Canada, wrestling to crowds of sometimes less than a hundred, but the passion of the boys is clear. If only they had a chance to perform in a full arena, they would get the chance to shine that I had.
Earl Black wrote: I met Angus (Campbell) in 1971 when I moved to Stu Harts Calgary territory from Vancouver. We stopped in a hotel for a week or so, Then Angus found an apartment on 17th Avenue in Calgary so we took that together. He was a deeply religious man, something few people knew, and he had a strong sense of right and wrong. Angus had been trained for the priesthood for a time in Ireland, where he was born, but never spoke of it to others. We had profound theological and philosophical discussions, but only when no one was around. He had amazing strength, although he never used weights or any other means to increase it. He had five older brothers just as big and strong, some of them bigger than he was! Angus would often take other wrestlers aside and help them improve their technique, or give then advice on problems. He helped a lot of peoples careers. He was also psychic, another thing he kept to himself. We were together in Kansas City when Pat O Connor and Bob Geigel were running the territory. Neither of us had a car at the time, so Pat O Connor asked Chatti Yokuchi to take us to St Joseph, Missouri, for a match, as Chatti and his partner Yasu Fuji were wrestling there too. Angus, as usual, slept most of the afternoon, but woke up an hour before Chatti was due to collect us. As he awoke, he said to me; “Chatti is not coming to pick us up, he wants to do the main event and is jealous because we have knocked him and his partner off the top spot.” “We are going to cross a river and some railway lines in a white car, belonging to a woman, and get there in time for our match. Chatti will claim that he came to pick us up on time, but we were not there.” I thought he had just had a bad dream, but by 8:30, Chatti still was not there. We went to the hotel lobby and enquired about buses or trains to St Joseph. A blonde woman we had never seen before, walked up and gave Angus the keys to her car. It was a white compact. We asked her if she was a wrestling fan, did she want to come to the match. She said no, she just wanted to help us. Angus drove, I was never happy driving on the wrong side of the road, especially at traffic lights. As we were new to the area, we got lost. Imagine my feelings, and the chill I felt, as we turned a corner where the road ahead crossed a small river and then some railway lines. We did get to the match on time. When Angus confronted Chatti, the excuse was word for word what Angus said it would be. Danny Little Bear, Ronnie Aitchison and the Viking, who were in the dressing room that night have now passed away,but Harley Race was only 20 at the time, so may remember the incident. I swore to Angus that I would never relate this experience to anyone, it is only now after his death that I am able to reveal it for the first time.
Earl Black wrote: Some wrestlers, like me, never go near the office unless they are asked to, or need to. Others, however, haunt the place, answering the phones, peeking at the mail, listening to conversations, to try and get an edge on the other boys. Some, like Joe Tomasso, would report any wrongdoings or slackness on the part of others. They thought that this would keep them in favour, and they would get main events and make more money. If they could not find any gossip, they would make it up. In 1971, I was in my early twenties, was not bad looking, and was single. The other wrestlers in Calgary had their wives with them, except Angus and Les Thornton, who lived in England, so their wives only visited. This meant that all the women who fancied wrestlers made a bee line for my apartment on 17th Avenue. Party was not the word for it. It was a lifestyle. Every time Joe came to pick me up to take me to a match, a dozen half naked women waved from my balcony. Angus shared the apartment with me but did not take part in any orgies. He was actually deeply religious, something he did not talk about except to me when we debated in private, as I am not a Christian. Joe went to Hart House every day with a tale for Stu Hart, who castigated the wrestlers. He listened to conversations in the dressing room, and repeated them, often embellishing them. The last straw came when he blamed the innocent Kurt Von Hess for something, and it got back to Kurt’s wife and caused a lot of trouble. Angus took Kurt aside, and hatched a plan. The only other person involved in the plan was wrestler Bob Pirie. No one else, including me, had any idea about it. It began on the road, Angus and Hess chatting in the dressing room in Saskatoon about an orgy they planned the next Friday night after the match in Calgary. They mentioned the previous Saturday when under age girls had been introduced to sex. All this was not true, but Joe lit up like a lighthouse. It was all he could do to stop himself running to a telephone and calling Stu. The next part of the plan took place in the dressing room in Regina. Bob Pirie, a natural big mouth, started shouting some very rude things about Angus. I, not knowing that it was a fix, thought Pirie had gone mad. Angus told him to shut up, but Pirie carried on. It came to blows, Pirie kicking Angus in the crutch. Angus was smoking, and when he gave Pirie a knuckle sandwich, there were sparks flying as well as Pirie, who landed on Joe. They were good actors, they fooled the rest of the boys who wisely stayed out of it. Sure enough, Stu had a report about it and sent for Angus and Pirie. Angus showed what mates they were by giving Pirie a hug and a kiss, Pirie laughing and saying “Are you kidding, me take on Angus?”. Stu began to doubt the veracity of Joe’s tales. The final part of the plan was the “Friday night orgy.” Hess arranged to go straight home after Friday’s Calgary match instead of coming to my place for a beer. Angus went to someone’s place for a meal. In the dressing room though, the excited talk was of the imminent debauchery and abuse of women. Next day, Stu was on the phone to Hess, laying down the law about under age sex, infidelity, and Friday night’s misbehavior, which by now included smoking grass. Hess went straight to Stu’s house with his wife and Angus. Hess’s wife was furious, knowing that her husband was home by 10.30. Angus easily proved that he was miles away at the time of the “orgy.” Joe raved at me about my mouth, of course I did not know what he was talking about until the next day. He still did not realize that it was Angus and Hess who had cooked his goose. Whatever Stu said to Joe, I dont know, but it worked.
Earl Black wrote: I was Freddie Sweetans tag partner one night in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. We were on last, the main event, and Freddie liked to wait until the fans had gone before leaving the arena. This helped to prevent any confrontation with the fans. I took my time getting ready. When we were showered and dressed, I looked out of the dressing room to find only two people, the two biggest men I have ever seen in my life. They looked like twin ogres. They had huge black beards, jeans, and lumberjack coats, with a big black cowboy hat each. They were well over seven feet tall, broad as a barn door, and wild looking. And they were blocking the only door we could go out of. I expected trouble, and told Freddie. He decided to wait a bit longer, so we gave it more time. By now it was getting late, and we had a long drive back to New Brunswick. Freddie was a bit braver than I was, he decided to approach them and tell them to clear off. Freddie strode up to them and said “What do you want?” One of the giants said “Can we carry your bags, please, Sir?” We gave them our bags, and left the arena, the giants roaring at the remaining crowd; “STAND BACK. WRESTLERS COMING THROUGH!” It must have given them a buzz to be associated with the wrestlers in front of the fans. Why they were not wrestlers themselves, I dont know. Freddie gave them both an autographed photo, and called them loudly by name so the fans could hear, just to make their night. That’s the kind of guy Freddie was. In another small town in the Maritimes, whose name escapes me, I got there early and lay down in the dressing room. As I walked out for my match, I saw that every single man in the audience was Red Indian. I was very apprehensive, thoughts going through my mind of Custers last stand, and tomahawks flying into the ring. Coming from England, this was something strange to me, wild people straight from the plains. I did not know how they would react. French Canadians are crazy enough. As it happened, they were exceptionally well behaved. They had me worried for a minute though.
Earl Black wrote: The hottest match I ever saw, was the bare knuckle tag boxing match between brothers Rudy Kay and Leo Burke, and the team of Freddie Sweetan and Justice Du Bois. It took place on a hot summer night at the end of the season in the Maritimes, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1972. Du Bois really was a judge, and Sweetan was a giant ex-paratrooper. The story was that Du Bois had beaten up Leo Burke in a bar, prompting ex-boxer Rudy Kay to challenge Du Bois to a bare knuckle boxing match. Du Bois said he would fight him, if he could choose a partner. The partner turned out to be the 6ft5 350lb Sweetan, and Leo Burke became Rudy’s partner. I wrestled Bobby Kay in an earlier match. Animosity had been building for months, Du Bois and Sweetan were hot, and Rudy and Leo were local heroes, as they were from near Moncton. Not only was the stadium sold out, but ten thousand people turned up outside and listened to the deafening noise from the fans inside. The ban on bare knuckle fighting was overcome by wearing tape on the hands. The match was furious, brutal and very dirty, Du Bois biting Rudy and stomping him with his jackboots. There did not seem to be any rules, except last man standing wins. Sweetan beat hell out of Leo and made him bleed profusely. Leo finally managed to tag Rudy in, who out-boxed Sweetan and Du Bois, soon it was a bloodbath. The fans were on their feet screaming through the whole match, which lasted about 25 minutes. When Rudy knocked out Du Bois, the whole town exploded. It was an experience I will never forget.
Earl Black wrote: Killer Karl Krupp caused a riot on the way from the dressing room in St Johns. He had a hiding place for his car in St Johns. It was under a garage, so we would fill up with petrol, and Krupp paid the garage owner to hide his car so that fans could not destroy it. The garage owner had never been to a match, so Krupp got him tickets. After he had seen Krupp in action, the garage owner smashed up the car. Krupp got wrestlers barred from half the hotels in the Maritimes. One had been enough. Krupp was actually born in Holland, and suffered under the Nazi occupation as a child.
Earl Black wrote: Hal Morgan, the promoter I worked for in Sydney, was very tough and sadistic. He was an excellent submission wrestler, specializing in tearing peoples heads off. Wrestler Lennie Holt found this to his cost, lying still with sandbags either side of his head in hospital after falling foul of Hal. In the 1960s, wrestlers working for Hal thought that he should pay them more, and decided to strike. A meeting was arranged at Hals gym, under a railway arch in Glebe, a Sydney suburb. I was not at the meeting, being in New Zealand at the time, but I heard that the furious Hal offered to fight all of them. I heard that they all walked away.. I asked my tag partner, Jan Janssen, if it was true, did he walk away too. Janssen replied “No, that’s not true – – – – – I ran as fast as my legs would carry me!”
Earl Black wrote: Paul Graham was an Australian wrestler and bodybuilder. He was a good con man. I watched him at work in New Zealand when I was his minder for the battle of the bands. He got an airline to put up the prize, air tickets to London and work for the band. Then he got coca cola to provide huge fridges for all the coke he would sell. He advertised in the papers (on tick), and got 50 bands in each of four main cities in NZ. Each band had to sell 50 tickets at a pound each to enter the battle, which went on from midday till midnight in Wellington, Auckland, Dunedin, and Christchurch. Television gave him free airtime and interviews, so he decided to promote wrestling too. I went on TV with him one night to promote the coming wrestling matches, but the interviewer side tracked him by talking about bodybuilding, and he completely forgot to mention the wrestling. The matches were a great success, anyway. He made a fortune from the wrestling, and the first three battle of the bands. The airline company must have smelt a rat, as they pulled out before the final battle in Dunedin, so there was no prize. Paul quickly found a mark to buy the promotion, sold all the coke and the fridges, took all the money, and left the mark to pay for the prize. When I got back to Sydney, he had opened a gym at Bondi. He was sleeping in a flat above the gym, with three great Danes on top of him. He would awake now and then, and curse the dogs for “stealing my air.” Paul took over the Mr. Universe contests in Australia, using his usual tactics..
Earl Black wrote: I carried on with the tattooing after I quit wrestling. They are buddhist tattoos, and all mean something to me. The back piece is Hamanasuke, the wrestler, attacked by bandits after leaving the temple. The eagle is the buddhist emblem of Hong Kong. The horse is Apple, she belonged to a nurse who was my girlfriend in Florida. [Pictures can be found in the Earl Black Photo Gallery]