RIP Walter “Killer” Kowalski

Old school wrestler Walter (Killer) Kowalski has died.

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The NY Times wrote yet another one of their fantastic obits. Their obits read like very short short stories. Here’s how Kowalski got his “Killer” moniker:

“I was leaping off the rope, and Yukon Eric, who had a cauliflower ear, moved at the last second,” Kowalski told The Chicago Tribune in 1989. “I thought I missed, but all of a sudden, something went rolling across the ring. It was his ear.”

Yukon Eric was taken to a hospital, and the promoter asked Kowalski to visit him and apologize for severing his ear. Reporters were listening to their chat from a corridor.

“There was this 6-foot-5, 280-pound guy, his head wrapped like a mummy, dwarfing his bed,” Kowalski said. “I looked at him and grinned. He grinned back. I laughed, and he laughed back. Then I laughed harder and left.

“The next day the headlines read, ‘Kowalski Visits Yukon in the Hospital and Laughs.’ And when I climbed into the ring that night, the crowd called out, ‘You animal, you killer.’ And the name stuck.”

Killer Kowalski was before my time, but I do remember going to the now defunct Cleveland Arena (site of the first rock n’ roll concert—the Moondog Coronation Ball hosted by Alan Freed) to watch Pamparo Firpo, Bobo Brazil, Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd and a host of other glorious misfits. The rest of the obit is pretty killer. (Ha. See what I did there?) If you need a laugh, go read it.

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