Gene Kiniski

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Title History

  • WWA (Los Angeles) International Television Tag Team titles w/John Tolos defeating Bobo Brazil & Wilbur Snyder (October 13, 1954);
  • NWA (San Francisco) World Tag Team titles w/Lord James Blears defeating Ben & Mike Sharpe (May 7, 1955);
  • NWA (San Francisco) World Tag Team titles w/Lord James Blears defeating Johnny Barend & Enrique Torres (August 9, 1955);
  • NWA (San Francisco) World Tag Team titles w/Lord James Blears defeating Ray Stern & Ronnie Etchison (November ??, 1955);
  • NWA Hawaii Tag Team titles w/James Blears defeating Sandor Kovacs & Johnny Barend (December 4, 1955);
  • NWA Texas Heavyweight title -as Gene Kelly- defeating Pepper Gomez (August 17, 1956);
  • NWA Texas Tag Team titles -as Gene Kelly- w/Len Crosby defeating Herb Freeman & Ray Gunkel (September 18, 1956);
  • NWA (Toronto) British Empire Heavyweight title defeating Pat O` Connor (May 2, 1957);
  • MAC (Montreal) International Heavyweight title defeating Edouard Carpentier (June 12, 1957);
  • NWA (Toronto) Canadian Open Tag Team titles w/Fritz Von Erich defeating Pat O` Connor & Billy Watson (October 31, 1957);
  • NWA (Toronto) British Empire Heavyweight title defeating Billy Watson (April 17, 1959);
  • NWA (Toronto) Canadian Open Tag Team titles w/Don Leo Jonathan defeating Yukon Eric & Billy Watson (October 29, 1959);
  • NWA (Chicago & Indianapolis) World Tag Team titles w/Dick Afflis defeating Ray & Roy Shires (Febuary 11, 1960);
  • AWA United States Heavyweight title defeating Wilbur Snyder (December 6, 1960);
  • AWA United States Heavyweight title defeating Wilbur Snyder (April 1, 1961);
  • AWA World Heavyweight title defeating Vern Gagne (July 11, 1961);
  • AWA World Tag Team titles w/Hard Boiled Haggerty defeating Leo Nomellini & Wilbur Snyder (July 19, 1961);
  • NWA (Vancouver) British Empire Heavyweight title defeating Billy Watson (August 21, 1961);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacfic Coast Tag Team titles w/Killer Kowalski defeating Roy McClarty & Billy Watson (January 22, 1962);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacfic Coast Tag Team titles w/Hard Boiled Haggerty defeating Mr. Kleen & Billy Watson (March 26, 1962);
  • NWA Southwest Tag Team titles w/Fritz Von Erich defeating Ricky Romero & Dory Funk Sr. (July 19, 1962);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacfic Coast Tag Team titles w/Hard Boiled Haggerty defeating Bearcat Wright & Billy Watson (August 7, 1962);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Mr. X defeating Dan Miller & Sandor Kovacs (Febuary 11, 1963);
  • NWA (Vancouver) British Empire Heavyweight title defeating Billy Watson (July 22, 1963);
  • AJPW All Asia Tag Team titles w/Caripus Hurricane defeating Michiaki Yoshimura & Toyonobori (May 14, 1964);
  • NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title defeating Neff Maivia (July 16, 1964);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Don Leo Jonathan defeating Roy Heffernan & Al Costello (January 11, 1965);
  • WWWF United States Tag Team titles w/Waldo Von Erich defeating Luke & Jerry Graham (Febuary 4, 1965);
  • WWA (Indianapolis) World Heavyweight title defeating Dick the Bruiser (August 21, 1965);
  • NWA World Heavyweight title defeating Lou Thesz (January 7, 1966);
  • NWA (Hawaii) North American Heavyweight title defeating Toru Tanaka (Febuary 19, 1969);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacfic Coast Heavyweight title defeating Mark Lewin (April 13, 1970);
  • NWA (JWA) International Heavyweight title defeating Giant Baba (December 3, 1970):
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacfic Coast Heavyweight title defeating Don Leo Jonathan (December 28, 1970);
  • NWA (Hawaii) North American Heavyweight title defeating Sam Steamboat (May 12, 1971);
  • NWA (Hawaii) North American Heavyweight title defeating Ed Morrow (September 9, 1971);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Bob Brown defeating Dean Higuchi & Steven Little Bear (October 11, 1971);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Bob Brown defeating Mark Lewin & Steven Little Bear (January 24, 1972);
  • NWA Hawaii Heavyweight title defeating Ed Francis (Febuary 16, 1972);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacfic Coast Heavyweight title defeating Steven Little Bear (June 26, 1972);
  • NWA (Missouri) Heavyweight title defeating Terry Funk (March 16, 1973);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/The Brute defeating Gerry Romano & John Quinn (August 20, 1973);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Mr. X defeating Flash Gordon & Leo Madril (April 17, 1974);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Dutch Savage defeating The Brute & Mr. X (August 5, 1974);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacific Coast Heavyweight title defeating Mr. X (October 14, 1974);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Mr. Saito defeating Wayne Bridges & Dan Kroffat (November 11, 1974);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Dale Lewis defeating Ormand Malumba & Guy Mitchell (May 19, 1975);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacific Coast Heavyweight title defeating Seigfried Steinke (August 10, 1975);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Canadian Tag Team titles w/Seigfried Steinke defeating George Wells & Dean Higuchi (Febuary 9, 1976);
  • NWA (Amarillo) International Heavyweight title defeating Super Destroyer (April 8, 1976);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacific Coast Heavyweight title defeating Don Leo Jonathan (January 10, 1977);
  • NWA (Vancouver) Pacific Coast Heavyweight title defeating John Quinn (May 15, 1978);

Gene Kiniski Career Highlights

In the Beginning:

  • Eugene Kiniski started wrestling at the Edmonton YMCA when he was around 15 years of age..
  • Eugene Kiniski also wrestled and played football at the Universtiy of Arizona..
  • Early 1950s: Eugene Kiniski played football for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League for four years..
  • ~~~The Los Angelas Rams were reportedly scouting Kiniski for the NFL but he declined the offer and began wrestling..

Getting into the Business:

  • Gene Kiniski was trained by Dory Funk Sr. and Tony Morelli, and says that he was never trained by Stu Hart..
  • Gene Kiniski made his wrestling debut down in Arizona & Texas..

Indianapolis:

  • 1959: Gene Kiniski wrestled in the Barnett/Doyle promotion out of Indianapolis, Indiana..
  • ~~~ During that stay, he was a tag team partner of both Dick the Bruiser and The Sheik..

American Wrestling Association:

  • July 11, 1961: Gene Kiniski defeated Verne Gagne for the AWA World Heavyweight title..
  • July 19, 1961: Hard Boiled Haggerty & Gene Kiniski defeated Wilbur Snyder & Leo Nomellini for the AWA World tag team titles..
  • August 8, 1961: Verne Gagne defeated Gene Kiniski to recapture the AWA World Heavyweight title..

National Wrestling Alliance:

  • 1966: Gene Kiniski defeated Lou Thesz for the NWA World title and lost the belt three years later to Dory Funk Jr..
  • January 7, 1969: Gene Kiniski defeated Bill Dromo to retain the World’s Heavyweight title in Macon, Georgia..

Retirements:

  • Gene Kiniski teamed with James Blears, Waldo von Erich, John Quinn, Hard Boiled Haggerty, Bob Brown & Don Leo Jonathan..
  • Gene Kiniski’s sons Kelly Kiniski and Nick Kiniski were both professional wrestlers..
  • Gene Kiniski currently hosts a TV show on Canadian Television called “Wrestling with the Past”..
  • January 2010: Gene Kiniski was hospitalized in Bellingham, Washingtron with pneumonia while battling lymphoma.
  • April 14, 2010: Gene Kiniski passed away at his home at the age of 81 after a long battle with cancer..

    Dave Meltzer wrote (April 14, 2010): Gene “Big Thunder” Kiniski, one of the great pro wrestlers of all-time, passed away this morning at his home in Blaine, WA. Kiniski, 81, had been battling cancer for some time and his death was not a surprise. Kiniski, a former college football player at Arizona, was a headliner from almost the start of his career in 1953. He made his name as a top heel in Canada through the nationally televised events in the 50s with a legendary feud with Whipper Billy Watson, the biggest star at the time in Canadian wrestling. He was also in the mix with names like Killer Kowalski, Yvon Robert and Edouard Carpentier when pro wrestling’s popularity peaked in Montreal during the late 50s. During his career he held the Montreal version of the world title, the AWA world title, the WWA world title and had his big run from January 7, 1966 through February 11, 1969, when he held the NWA world title. He was generally regarded as one of the best workers in the business during the 50s and 60s. He also had ownership in the Vancouver wrestling promotion until 1983. During the 60s and through the mid-70s, British Columbia had a strong local promotion featuring some of the best wrestlers of that era. Two of his sons, Nick and Kelly, became pro wrestlers in the 80s. Kiniski headlined a number of baseball stadium shows in many different parts of the world during his career, most notably a Montreal world title match with Kowalski, an NWA title match with Fritz Von Erich and an International title match at the old Budokan Stadium in Tokyo against Giant Baba, which is often considered the greatest match of Baba’s career.

 


Craig from Maple Ridge, British Columbia wrote: Hey there, I just stopped at a small gas station barely over the border into the states thru the peace arch crossing. There’s a giant blown up photo of gene with a heel faced scowl holding a case of Budweiser that’s autographed. Apparently he stops in every morning for coffee and a chat with the staff and they took his pic for a laugh and blew it up and put it on the wall. Just thought it was a neat little tid bit of information is all, it made me smile and “guy” the cashier was quite friendly and told me the story behind the photo.


Robert Louis Howell wrote: In 1969, Atlanta TV Wrestling The Professional wrestled a new masked man The Blue Destroyer possibly sent in by Gene Kiniski to eliminate his top challenger. The Professional beat and unmasked the Blue Destroyer and revealed Gene Kiniski.