Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Larry Riehl
Who Was Tom Packs?
Thatís a tough question! I could not find out
very much on this promoter. What I did find out was sort of a surprise.
HarleyRace.com (The Story of Orville Brown), and Mark Hewitt were of
great help when I wrote this article. I would also like to thank
WrestlingClassics.com for its great articles on Sam Muchnick.
Anthanasios Pakiotis, was an
immigrant from Greece. He first immigrated to Chicago. At some point in
time Tom Packs became associated with Ed White. Ed White was a promoter
in Chicago and he was also the manager of Jim Londos. Tom Packs had a
relative in St. Louis by the name of John Contos. John Contos started
promoting in St. Louis around 1922, and this is when Tom Packs came to
St. Louis from Chicago to start promoting wrestling in St. Louis. Tom
Packs booked wrestlers from the White/Londos faction and the Jack Curley
group and the Lewis/Sandow/Mondt troupe.
Packs ran his promotion until 1947.
Count up the years and you get 25. So for 25 years
Tom Packs ran a successful promotion in St. Louis. You then think well
Sam Muchnick ran his promotion for 35 years Sam Muchnick beat him by 10
years. Yes thatís true but Sam Muchnick didnít run his promotion
through the Great Depression. In 1930 Tom Packs joined the National
Wrestling Association. Not only did Tom Packs run his promotion through
the Great Depression, it was the only promotion to show a profit during
that period of time. Tom Packs survived by selling the World Title to
other territories, and by promoting in his hometown. Tom Packs would for
a fee send his champion to drop the title to the challenger in another
territory. Since Tom Packs still retained control of the belt if he had
to, he could just strip the title from the challenger.
In 1932, something else happened that you could say
Tom Packs is responsible for. He hired Sam Muchnick as publicist. When
Sam Muchnick worked as a sports writer he was able to make many
connections. One of these connections was Tom Packs. Eventually he
became Tom Packs right hand man. Sam Muchnick worked for Tom Packs for
nine years. Then Tom Packs promoted a fight between Joe Lewis and Tony
Musto, the fight was a sellout and the house made $67,000, a $14,000
profit. For all the work that Sam Muchnick did for the fight Tom Packs
gave Sam Muchnick a $200 bonus. Sam Muchnick stated that this did not
bother him. What did bother him was that Sam Muchnick found out that it
was suggested, by Mike Jacobs that he should receive 10%, $1,400 for all
his hard work, and Tom Packs said that he did not want to spoil him. So
in 1942 Sam Muchnick, with a court injunction ran a promotion in
opposition to Tom Packs. Then Sam Muchnick enlisted in the Air Force for
two years, but when he was out in 1945 he started right back where he
Without Tom Packs we would not have been blessed
with one of my favorite wrestlers of all time Lou Thesz. Under the wing
of George Tragos, Lou Thesz would start to work preliminary matches
around 1935. In 1936 Lou Thesz worked his first professional match for
Tom Packs. Lou Thesz in his biography Hooker mentioned how Tom Packs
protected him from other wrestlers. Lou Thesz stated that not many
wrestlers were given this type of break, and he did not understand why.
I think that the answer to this was easy, Tom Packs wanted to protect
his investment, the same way he protected his investment in Orville
Brown. The story on Orville Brown was that he came to St. Louis so that
Tom Packs could take a look at him. Tom Packs suggested that he go east
and work with some of the top wrestlers. Orville Brown said that he
didnít have any money to train, and Tom Packs wrote him a check for
$5,000, and this was in 1933. Orville Brown starred at the check in
disbelief and Tom Packs replied that ďYou'll pay it back, and some day
you will make me a lot of money when you are wrestling main events in
Tom Packs also ran his promotion during World War
II. I havenít seen this one mentioned, but I can easily see the box
office dropping during this timeframe. I donít think the numbers would
be near as low as that of the Great Depression but I would still think
the box office would still take a hit.
Tom Packs for financial reasons, a $350,000
financial reason, lost his money in the Stock Market, and was forced to
sell Tom Packs Sport Enterprises, Inc. The best I can tell is that in
late 1947 Tom Packs Sport
Enterprises, Inc. sold control of his office and promotion to the
Mississippi Valley Sports Club. The Mississippi Valley Sports Club would
then run in opposition to Sam Muchnick. More...