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- Rob Elder

Spotlight on Al Tomko

I decided to switch gears on this project and to focus the next few month’s columns on some of the specific stars of All Star Wrestling’s ring during the 1980’s. As I have mentioned this British Columbia wrestling promotion has seen tons of stars come and go but what better place to start than with the infamous Al Tomko. 

Over the years Tomko wore many hats in the wrestling game. He started out in the 50’s in Winnipeg Manitoba where he opened the Olympia wrestling club and help to train local talent for competition in the square circle. He was also part of wrestling at the Madison Club in the same city during the 60’s. Tomko was able to promote events drawing record crowds in this area and became Verne Gagne’s main man North of Minnesota. Tomko acted as a special representative to the AWA as well as working as a wrestler on the cards under the name “Crazy Legs” Leroy Hirsch. Tomko wrestled at mid card status for shows that drew in excess of 10,000 fans. Mr. Tomko was able to successfully promote this area well into the 70’s and has been credited by some as the man who launched the career of the legendary Roddy Piper. Tomko eventually had a falling out with Verne Gagne. He had become disappointed over the lack of talent Gagne was sending up to Tomko’s cards in Canada. The two split and Tomko headed for the West Coast where he purchased Sandor Kovac’s share of the NWA Vancouver territory in and around 1977. Tomko relocated for good in Vancouver in the early1980’s and ran the territory for several years. 

Tomko ran a tight ship and brought his show to cities and towns of all and any size in British Columbia. Running almost nightly and producing a low budget TV show on B.C. TV, Tomko ran perhaps the most successful territory/independent promo in Canada. Rivaled only by Stu Hart’s Stampede promo, the Maritime Grand Prix circuit and the Montreal Grand Prix promo during the 1980’s, Tomko was able to expand in to Alberta and even had a tour of the Middle East. Perhaps his biggest accomplishment of all was his ability to put himself over as the top star of the promotion for the first six years of the 80’s. Lacking the physical prowess of the stars of the 80’s era Al Tomko did have the gift to really set fans off. When it came to working the stick and psychology in the ring Tomko could definitely teach some of the stars of today a thing or two. Whether as a face or a heel Al Tomko gave the fans their money’s worth.  More...

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