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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Funk's Corner - Killer Kowalski - His "Stomp To The Face" Didn't Hurt At All

Courtesy of Dory Funk Jr.:

In 1952, wrestling magazines were as important to professional wrestling as television. As a 10 year old kid I living on Dory Funk Sr.'s Flying Mare Ranch in Umbarger, Texas we had no wrestling on television. My main source of information was the wrestling magazines published in New York.

I was shocked when I read the front page of Wrestling Review and saw a picture of Killer Kowalski and Yukon Eric. The headline read, Killer Kowalski kicks off Yukon Eric's ear.

Kowalski was 6' 6" tall and looked like the most amazing athlete I had ever seen. I could imagine Kowalski's boot coming down on Yukon Eric's ear and knocking it right off his head. Killer Kowalski was the top heel in the country at the time.

Twelve years later, my father received a call from Jim Barnett, Wrestling Promoter in Sydney Australia asking if I would be interested in coming to Australia for three months. As I got off a Quantas Airlines 707 at Sydney International Airport people were talking about professional wrestling on television and "Bad Guy" Killer Kowalski.

They told me of an interview on a national TV show where the host asked Killer Kowalski if it hurt when he stomped his opponent in the face with his size 16 wrestling boot. Killer replied, "No it doesn't hurt at all. I wear special thick soles and it doesn't hurt my foot at all."

The value of a professional wrestler to a promotion is his box office appeal. My first match was in Sydney Stadium, only a short walk from our hotel in Kings Cross. Sydney Stadium held 17,000 people and it was packed to the rafters for the main event, Killer Kowalski against Tex McKenzie. That same week Killer Kowalski and Tex McKenzie sold out Melbourne's Festival Hall, 12,000 fans, Perth Australia's National Stadium 25,000 people and Brisbane sold out to the tune of 8,000 people. Killer Kowalski was the biggest star in one of the best territories in the world, Australia.

We worked five days a week and traveled first class from one end of the country to the other. Killer Kowalski was the top heel for Jim Barnett's Promotion. First class is the best way to describe Killer Kowalski as a person. It was such a thrill on the end of the tour to have the opportunity to wrestle the person I had been so impressed with as a child.

Killer Kowalski was a dear friend of Marti and I.

We will miss him.

Our condolences to his family.

Dory Funk Jr. and Marti Funk - http://www.dory-funk.com