The Ring of Friendship
An association of past, present and future champions, contestants and allied personages joining together in recognition and celebration of fellowship within the wrestling world.
Forty five years ago, veteran wrestler and actor Iron Mike Mazurki put out the call to his wrestling cronies to join him in Los Angeles for weekly lunches, to continue the camaraderie that develops between the people who populate “Cauliflower Alley. ” Little did Mike realize what he’d started!
The lunches began at Mike’s own “Baron’s Castle” restaurant, moved to the Old Spaghetti Factory, then various other venues in the L.A. area. Boxers and Hollywood personalities, often seen at ringside in Los Angeles wrestling venues, were invited to join, among them James Cagney, Caesar Romero and other stars of that caliber. Before long, an annual reunion, complete with an awards night, was organized and became a tradition.
Fast forward to the year 2000. The Club had flourished under Mazurki’s presidency until 1990, then boxer Archie’s Moore’s leadership for three years, and Lou Thesz’s until 1999. At that point, the decision was made to relocate the annual reunion to Las Vegas, expand it to three days, and really “do it up right”.
Red Bastien ascended to the presidency that year, and headed up eight reunions. Nick Bockwinkel took over as head honcho in 2008, and this year presides over the 45th anniversary “Sapphire Event”, to be held April 19-21 at the Gold Coast Hotel in Las Vegas.
The event will be three solid days of awards, seminars for young wrestlers, nostalgia displays, a banquet and a baloney blowout, even cribbage and bowling tournaments. Above all, it’ll be three days of the kinship and camaraderie that exists between wrestlers old and new, promoters, referees, historians, and serious fans of the sport.
Ted DiBiase, of Million Dollar Man fame, adds to his laurels when he receives the Iron Mike Award, the Club’s major honor, at the closing banquet on April 21. Jim Ross, long the major voice of WWE, will be the recipient of the Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award, while Dan Severn is honored with the Lou Thesz Award. Other honorees include Rip Hawk, Roger Kirby, Dean Higuchi, Joyce Grable, Pat Barrett, Vance Nevada and Magic Schwarz. “Scrap Iron” Gadaski and Lee Fields will be honored posthumously.
Five seminars on April 20 and 21 will be of particular interest to both young wrestlers and those who have been around for a few years. The subject matter is widely varied, but it’s all directed toward improving the in-ring product, developing a unique persona, and conducting a wrestling career with an eye to the future. Presenters include Ted DiBiase, Harley Race, Vance Nevada, the original Dan Kroffat, Ross Hart and Amazing Kong, with a special seminar by psychiatrist and long-time wrestling observer Dr. David Reiss. The full seminar schedule appears on the Club’s website.
CAC is not a fanfest or fan convention. Rather, it’s a reunion of current and retired wrestlers, people who have worked in some capacity within the business, wrestling historians, and serious long-time followers of the sport. If you fit into one of those categories, you’ll enjoy it immensely.
Be sure to check out th CAC website, www.caulifloweralleyclub.org .