Tuesday has always been Louisville’s night for wrestling. Ohio Valley Wrestling tapes their TV show on Tuesday, and Memphis Wrestling ruled the Louisville Gardens for decades. But 35 years before Jerry Lawler came to town, Heywood Allen presented Louisville with a front row seat to the golden age of grappling.
The Allen Athletic Club ran every Tuesday night at the Columbia Gym on 4th Street, bringing Louisville fans a steady stream of the biggest names in wrestling for 22 years. Fans booed Wild Bill Longson and cheered heroes like Mildred Burke. They embraced the pageantry of Gorgeous George and thrilled to the terror of Ginger the Wrestling Bear. They celebrated hometown heroes like the Black Panther Jim Mitchell and jeered the dastardly Stu Gibson. They even cheered the Nature Boy Buddy Rogers while booing the great champion Lou Thesz!
The Allen Club had it all: mud wrestling, ladies wrestling, tag team wrestling, alligator wrestling, and midget wrestling. They packed the Columbia Gym, the future Louisville Gardens, and even an open air arena every week with rowdy fans who weren’t above throwing seat cushions if they didn’t like what they say. They even presented live wrestling on television the week WHAS TV went on the air.
Promoters Heywood Allen and Francis MacDonogh established a tradition that continues to this day. Tuesday night is wrestling night in the Derby City, and it’s all because of the weekly extravaganza that came to be called Louisville’s Greatest Show!
“Sensational!” – Jim Cornette
“As I read the last page it made me sad to be leaving this journey I’ve been on for the last few weeks. I will forever be envious of those folks who saw some of the greatest talent perform during those years, but never so much as I would of the card of November 27, 1954 or the opportunity to hang out at the Black Panther Carry Out. John, thank you for amazing book and awesome ride through history.” – Chris DeBoer
“Anyone interested in wrestling and are open minded to learning about the past generations will thoroughly enjoy it I feel. It is up there with Larry Matysik’s book on the St. Louis Wrestling Club as far as books on specific promoters/areas go. At the beginning John Cosper asks the question: ‘How did a community like Louisville become home to not one but two wrestling promotions that survived more than twenty years in the WWE era?’ By the end of it you’ll not only know the answer, but, you’ll understand it and feel as though you’ve been thoroughly entertained during the process.” – Jimmy Wheeler, Pro Wrestling Historical Society (5/5 stars)
Number of pages: 284
Books are signed by author John Cosper.
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