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SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Ole Olsen

REAL NAME: Albert Olsen
5'9", 209-228 pounds
BORN: Sept 10, 1922 in Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba
PRO DEBUT: Oct 4, 1950 - Winnipeg Civic Auditorium (Promoter, Alex Turk) Wrestled to a draw vs. Caifson Johnson
AKA: "Acey" Olsen

Ole Olsen   Albert Olsen started his wrestling career training under Harold Nelson at the Winnipeg Downtown YMCA in 1945. After a year of instruction, he made his amateur debut. However, his career almost didn't begin.

In 1945, he played with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (now of the Canadian Football League) amongst a field of gridders who would become the earliest pros in the sport. However, the football club did not offer him a contract, so he turned his attentions to wrestling.

As an amateur, he introduced several solid competitors into the mat game. Among his amateur trainees include George Gordienko, Roy McLarty & Gordie Nelson. Over time, he would also become an advisor for these men in their early careers. While his own career with the Winnipeg Fire Department kept him close to home, and from pursuing wrestling to the fullest, he remains in touch with these men to this day.

In 1948, Olsen lost his only match as an amateur at the Olympic wrestling trials. He finished second, losing to Fernand Payette in the finals. The match earned him a great deal of respect, so much that Payette offered to hire Olsen as a training partner. Olsen declined after getting some sage advise from the father of another of that year's competitors, Maurice Vachon. (Olsen proudly shows the photo of the qualifiers from that year, pointing out himself and Vachon).

In 1950, Olsen took a three month leave of absence from the fire department to train in Minneapolis. Under the guidance of Wally Karbo and Tony Stecher, Olsen adapted to the pro ranks then returned home to make his debut in Winnipeg. That year would stand out for him forever, as it was the same year that he married his wife in Minneapolis. Coincidentally, Roy McLarty and wife, Shirley Strimple, were witnesses for the ceremony.

During his early years in the mat game, wrestling for promoter Alex Turk, he met many friends which he would keep for a lifetime. His comraderie with Stu Hart, Bulldog Bob Brown and countless others would be cherished long after his retirement from the ring.

Olsen earned the respect and acclaim that was given to him in matches against such men as Jack Britton, Johnny Moochy, Red Bastein, Steve Kozak, Reggie "Crusher" Lisowski, & Angelo Poffo. In fact, his performances drew a great deal of media attention in Winnipeg, which Olsen modestly refers to as propaganda.

During holidays from the fire department, Olsen would make trips to Calgary, Minneapolis, and even to Toledo, Ohio (1952). His achievements were recognized by "RING" magazine when his photo and an article appeared in 1952.

After a few years, Olsen's relationship with Alex Turk deteriorated. Olsen dropped out of the local wrestling picture for a short time after feeling that greed had gotten the better of the region's top sports promoter.

The media raced to cover the story when Olsen denounced his pro status and dropped back to the local level, promoting his own club shows under the banner of the Norland Wrestling Club. In those days, groups that today would be considered regional independents were considered semi-pro or exhibition shows. This was partially to avoid being subject to the fees and regulations administered by the Manitoba Boxing & Wrestling Commission.

Under Olsen, such wrestlers as Fred Pospiech, "Iron" Mike Koncur, Wally Hewack, and several others got their first introduction to the wrestling scene. In 1958, the Winnipeg Roller Rink became a recognized hotbed for solid wrestling action.

In the summer of 1959, Olsen moved his weekly cards to the shores of Grand Beach. During an aggressive schedule of wrestling by various clubs, the Norland Club was able to establish itself as a producer of top talent, particularly promoting "Golden Boy" Fred Pospiech.

Following his 1959 run, Olsen sold his ring to Al Tummins of the Madison Club and ceased his own promotional efforts. Following the sale, Olsen would become a regular with that club. It wasn't long before he was again riding a wave of success.

In mid-1960, Olsen teamed with Frenchy Champagne to win an eight-team tournament for the vacant Madison Club Tag-Team titles with a win over Bob Brown & Bill Kochen. Their title reign lasted for almost a year, seeing Champagne & Olsen become recognized as one of the most dominant twosomes of that period.

Following the loss of the tag-team championship, Ole had several one-on-one encounters with the likes of Stan Mykietowich (aka Moose Morowski) and Bobby Jones, establishing his ability as a singles' wrestler.

In 1962, Olsen formed a partnership with Armin "Mr. Clean" Stojke. Their alliance is one which Olsen recalls fondly. "Armin was a legitimate tough guy, known for his toughness in and out of the ring." They worked as a unit for some time.

Olsen would retire in the mid-1960's from wrestling, but his contributions to the sport will be remembered for quite some time. Olsen is currently enjoying his retirement in Winnipeg.

This bio was written by central Canada's leading wrestling expert, Vern May of Canadian Wrestle-Media. To learn more about wrestlers from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Vern encourages you to email him.