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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.  Tom 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 left off. 

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 St. LouisĒ. 

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...

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