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.
Friday I had the chance to talk about the new book Louisville’s Greatest Show with George Bueller, host of the WBKI FANatic on Facebook Live. George is a walking encyclopedia of all things comic books and – as it turns out – pro wrestling. If you’re into the comic book shows on the WB, this is worth liking and following every week. And if our conversation about the book intrigues you, please head over to Amazon.com to pick it up for yourself.
Louisville’s Greatest Show is ready, and the release date is now set.
I will be selling and signing copies at the Pro Wrestling Freedom Show March 10, 2017 at the ArenA in Jeffersonville, Indiana, right across the river from Louisville. Books will be available for $15. The book will be on sale that same weekend on Amazon for $19.95.
Come down and see why PWF is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about promotions in the Midwest. Several great matches on the card, including Chase Owens defending his Smoky Mountain title in Jeffersonville against Matt Cage and a rematch for the PWF Title between Chip Day and Gary Jay.
Big thank you to Jimmy Feltcher for hosting the book release!
One of the guys I enjoyed meeting while writing was Bluegrass Brawlers was Terry “Garvin” Simms. I first learned of Terry through my wife, an avid Reddit reader, who found an AMA (that’s ask me anything, for those of you like me who never go to Reddit) that he did one night. I got in touch with Terry through Facebook and then via phone. Simply put, he’s the most outstanding wrestling storyteller you’ve never heard of. He has a fascinating story of his own, and he has plenty to go around about the men he worked with. Still waiting for the right time and place to share one he shared with me about the Freebirds.
Thankfully for those like me who love good stories, Terry has joined the ranks of podcasters with his show World Domination with Terry “Garvin” Simms. It turns out Terry’s not only good sharing his stories but getting stories from some of wrestling’s biggest legends including Lance Russell, Handsome Jimmy Valiant, Doug Gilbert, Axl Rotten, Jeanie Clarke, Bull Pain, and Robert Fuller.
If you’re a fan of old time rasslin’, this is a fun, positive look back at the people and stories that made wrestling great without the usual lamentations about how the business “ain’t what it used to be.”
I’d like to send an extra special thank you to Terry’s recent guest Jimmy Valiant, who put Bluegrass Brawlers over not once, but twice on the show. I had the opportunity to meet Jimmy a few months back in Evansville and give him a copy of the book. I’m so glad he liked it and honored he’d give it such a great endorsement.
I had lunch at Clarksville Seafood today, and I’m telling you, it was the best fish I’ve ever eaten. I’ve only had the fish one other time, the first time I ate their back in 2013. Since then I’ve become a big fan of the clams and the oysters. Today I was in a fish mood, and it did not disappoint.
Why am I telling you this on a wrestling blog? Because this restaurant has history. Back in the 1970s and 80s, this is where the wrestlers ate. The stars of Memphis wrestling loved Clarksville Seafood, and many of them made it a Wednesday ritual. They worked Louisville Tuesday night, and they ate Clarksville Seafood for Wednesday lunch before driving to Evansville.
Jim Cornette still eats there. So does Kenny Bolin. It’s the only reason either of those Kentucky residents will cross the river into Indiana.
Clarksville Seafood is a Southern Indiana institution. It opened as the Cape Codder nearly 40 years ago. If you walk in the front door, you’ll see the original menu in a frame – just above a framed copy of the book cover for Bluegrass Brawlers. Yes, the restaurant is mentioned in the book. It’s one of the few landmarks from Louisville’s wrestling past you can still visit.
The decor hasn’t changed since the Cape Codder first opened, and yes, everything is deep fried – even the veggies recently added to the menu (the first additions since the place opened in the early 70s). If you like seafood, it’s worth a visit, and if you’re really lucky, you might just run into a legend.