SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Alex Turk
Alex Turk and Whipper Watson in June 1950.
Alex Turk can be credited, for the most part, for bringing the
modern era of professional wrestling to central Canada. In fact, when he
promoted his first card in 1946, the media immediately jumped all over the
story, hailing the event as the biggest wrestling extravaganza in the
fifteen years leading up to its debut.
Turk was a notable city councilman and sports promoter, having
promoted minor league baseball and pro boxing cards, but by far, his foray
into pro wrestling would be his most memorable endeavour. Months prior to
the first card, Turk announced to the media that he would be attending a
metting of the National Wrestling Alliance commissioners in Chicago in order
to persuade them to include Winnipeg as one of the cities in their network.
Winnipeg was declined, though Toronto's bid was accepted.
Under Turk, fans saw every top star of the day. In fact, in the
span of three weeks in the early 1960's, fans would have the chance to see
Verne Gagne, Pat O'Connor, Bruno Sammartino, Haystacks Calhoun, and Lou
Thesz all in Winnipeg. At that time, Turk sought to become the wrestling
capital of Canada.
Turk knew how to promote. Following trends set by other top
promoters in the U.S. and Canada, he would import celebrities from boxing
such as Joe Louis, local pro football players from the Winnipeg Blue
Bombers, and other notable celebrities for guest referee assignments on the
cards with great results.
At the onset, Turk had a great operation. He utilized the drawing
power of the top names in the business, combined with a solid supporting
roster of talent within and from surrounding regions to present some
historically significant cards. For example, under Turk, there was a match
in Winnipeg between Verne Gagne & Stu Hart
(two heads of dominant wrestling
After close to twenty years of promoting, Turk faced opposition
from the south as the AWA opened its doors and made their intentions to move
into Canada very clear. Under local rep, "Cyclone" John MacAlpine, the AWA
went head-to-head with Turk over the rights to the Manitoba market. Though
Turk was able to thwart their advances at first, he would eventually lose
considerable ground with the dawn of television, and he closed shop.
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