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Whalen remembers Stampede

By ED WHALEN -- For the Calgary Sun
A lot of people have asked me to do it and maybe I should (some day) write about my days with Stampede Wrestling.

It's a show that has followed me throughout my life and, indeed, still makes me a worldwide figure.

Let me explain that claim.

Former Flame Hakan Loob, now living in Sweden, recently told me "you don't know how big a star you are in Europe."

Well, I don't know because somebody is bootlegging Stampede Wrestling (Stu Hart and yours truly get not one dime by way of residuals).

But yes, like the old cowboy ditty "I've been everywhere," I have been everywhere -- like Europe, Japan, Australia, Singapore, the jungles of Guiana, North Africa ... the list goes on and on. In places like Rome and Beijing, there's old Eddie on the screen jabbering away in English with subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

We had relatively innocent fun with that show -- innocent in contrast with the immoral overtones of the WWF today -- but that's an editorial subject for another day.

(I fail to see how scenes like simulated oral sex on the screen have anything to do with wrestling and are of benefit to kids. However, there it was in living colour, the scene performed on a bed and aired on TSN.)

Don't let me get started on this subject.

I could keep going all day, but right now I'd better stop preaching. Right?

- - -


Sky Hi Lee. Photo courtesy Terry Dart.
We, on Stampede Wrestling, had a lot of characters in the ring.

The following couple of tales might not be humorous, but they do deal with two guys who spent time with us on the show.

How well I remember a worldwide box- office champ named Sky High Lee.

He was just about as high as the sky most of the time ... on booze, bless him.

I got to know about that part of his life in a car ride from Regina to Calgary as he happily consumed 40 oz. of rye -- straight from the jug.

Mind you, he never appeared to be drunk and he certainly wasn't abusive, which was a good thing.

You see, he stood something like 7-ft.-8 on a well distributed 450 lb. frame.

Sky is gone and just before he cashed in, he starred in the Folies Bergiere in Paris, carrying scantily-clad women into a cave while chuckling with a voice that sounded like it came out of a sepulcher.

Another guy I recall was Firpo Zbysko.

He was a Polish gent who, at one time, was a world attraction.

But when he continued fighting at the tender age of 70, he was relegated to the opening bout on a card.

Your eyes did not deceive: 70 years old.

Dear old Firpo made only one mistake and not in the ring.

He married an 18-year-old girl and was dead in two months.

Obviously, those two illustrations do not really tell you about the comical characters of the business.

But then, maybe I'll tell you about that stuff in a book. Who knows?

 This Ed Whalen column originally appeared in the Calgary Sun March 1, 1999. Whalen writes occasionally in the Page Six spot for the Sun

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