In 1950 Louisville wrestling promoter Francis McDonogh signed an agreement with WHAS TV to broadcast live professional wrestling in Louisville from the Columbia Gym on Fourth Street. McDonogh had been offered television a few years earlier, but he was reluctant to sign on fearing (as many promoters did) that television would cut into the live audience.
TV did not hurt the live crowds in Louisville any more than it had elsewhere in the country. Not only did TV bring more fans to the live events, wrestling proved to be the catalyst for many in the Louisville area to purchase their first television.
The two photos below were taken when McDonogh signed the deal with WHAS TV. The first photo appeared in the February 12, 1950 edition of the Courier-Journal when the TV deal was announced.
The photo below came from the personal collection of Dr. Gary McDonogh, Francis’s son. Same location, same faces. A fun “behind the scenes” look at this solemn and seminal moment in Louisville sports history.
WHAS carried live wrestling from the Columbia Gym sponsored by Fehr’s Beer for an hour every Tuesday night for more than three years, ending the run in the fall of 1953. Sadly no tape exists of this show because WHAS did not tape anything until just a few years later.
Read the full story of the Allen Athletic Club and the WHAS TV run in Louisville’s Greatest Show, now in print on Amazon.com.