Sacramento Wrestling
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Sacramento Memorial Auditorium

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Early Boxing, Wrestling Setup.jpg

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Front View Pre-reconstruction (note absence of handicapped access ramp on right).jpg

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Sacramento Memorial Auditorium


Sacramento Pro Wrestling 1960s and 1970s

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Bearcat Wright & Chief Billy Whitewolf (young Adnan Al-Kaissy) Backstage 1.jpg

Bearcat Wright & Chief Billy Whitewolf (young Adnan Al-Kaissy) Backstage 2.jpg

George Harris III at KXTV Channel 40.jpg

Gerhardt Kaiser Chokes Pat Patterson.jpg

Gerhardt Kaiser Dons the Tights vs. Raul Mata.jpg

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Heel Pat Patterson under the Mask, KXTV Channel 40 Sacramento.jpg

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Karl Von Brauner Sets Raul Mata for the Piledriver.jpg

Karl Von Brauner, Lonnie Mayne, Andre the Giant and Raul Mata.jpg

Karl Von Brauner, Pat Patterson, Gehrhart Kaiser.jpg

Karl von Brauner Flips Pat Patterson.jpg

Miss Wrestling, KXTV Channel 40 Sacramento.jpg

Miss Wrestling, stagehand Leroy, KXTV Channel 40 Sacramento.jpg

Moondog Mayne, Pat Patterson, Andre the Giant, referee Jack Hollingsworth.jpg

Pat Patterson and Mighty Brutus (Mike Davis, Bugsy McGraw) 1.jpg

Pat Patterson and Mighty Brutus (Mike Davis, Bugsy McGraw) 2.jpg

Pedro Morales at KXTV Channel 40 Sacramento.jpg

Ray Stevens vs. Pepper Gomez, The Great Feud 1.jpg

Ray Stevens vs. Pepper Gomez, The Great Feud 2.jpg

Red Bastien vs. Ray Stevens, Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.jpg

Ripper Collins, Popular Wrestling Royalty of Hawaii.jpg

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Sacramento Pro Wrestling 1960s and 1970s

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Welcome to the Sacramento Wrestling Page!

Below you will find a 1960's and 70's Sacramento and Stockton Wrestling photos, as well as other pictures, articles and newspaper ads


A tribute to the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium, one of the great wrestling venues of The Golden Age.

Also, visit our pages for Announcer Hank Renner and Promoter Roy Shire for more Sacramento and Stockton wrestling photos and programs.
Courtesy of the Sacramento Convention Center:

"Memorial Auditorium opened in 1927 as a tribute to Sacramento men and women who died while serving their country in war.

Renovated in 1996, after a ten year closure, the Auditorium has hosted a variety of events, including concerts, family shows, conventions, sporting events and is the primary location for school graduations.

The Auditorium is a mixture of Byzantine, Romanesque and classical revival styles. It resembles a cathedral with its footprint, buttresses, and a faux 'rose window' medallion above its columned façade.

It represents a priceless link with the city's past and the history of its cultural development, and remains one of Sacramento's most beloved historical landmarks.

Registered as a historic landmark, the Memorial Auditorium is a true multi-use venue. There are four seating levels in the Auditorium: sloped main floor, dress circle and two balconies, with a seating capacity totaling 3,855."
Sacramento Memories: The Sacramento Memorial Auditorium is a Local Legend

(Sacramento Bee, Nov. 20, 2002)

By Chris Macias

What hasn't the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium seen in its 71-year history?

Roller derbies, basketball games, grudge wrestling matches with Hulk Hogan and high school graduations have all headlined there, not to mention more than a fair share of concerts. Iron Maiden, Duke Ellington, the Beach Boys (who recorded a live album from the Memorial in 1964) and countless others have graced the Memorial's stage.

Judy Goldbar, event services administrator for the Sacramento Convention Center (which oversees the Memorial Auditorium), describes the Memorial as "an arena/performing arts house."

It opened in 1927 on a block donated by Sacramento city founder John Sutter and dedicated to Sacramentans who died in war. An honor roll listing Sacramentans killed in battle from the Spanish American War through Persian Gulf War is housed in a room adjacent to the main lobby.

In its early years, swing concerts, circuses and movies accompanied by a looming pipe organ formed the auditorium's rotating lineup. The Memorial kept its doors open until numerous health and fire code violations and the need for earthquake retrofit forced it to close in 1986. It would take six years for community leaders and voters to agree on an initiative -- 1992's Measure H -- that would allocate funding and devise a plan for resurrecting the auditorium.

But the remodel uncovered some had some sticky hinges. There were questions of how the Memorial Auditorium should be reopened: Would it continue to as a multipurpose facility or act as a refurbished, first-class performing arts house?

Many wanted to upgrade the auditorium's notorious acoustics, which would mean destroying some of the building's classic edifice. Others wanted the building available for a variety of uses, from inaugural balls to Soundgarden concerts.

The idea of keeping it as a general facility passed, but barely. Only 221 votes (out of 84,000) decided the measure. Operating on a relatively small budget of $10.8 million, the renovation, which began in 1995, included fixing health and fire code issues, adding wheelchair ramps, installing heating and air conditioning and retrofitting the building.

The Memorial's doors sprung open in Nov. 1996 with a host of celebrations, including a concert by the Doobie Brothers.

Much of the Memorial's original glory had been uncovered by the renovations. "See that red and green?" said Goldbar, pointing to ornate trim that ran along the balcony. "That never even showed because it was so covered with (cigarette) smoke."

Since the reopening, the Memorial has not only featured a host of concerts and graduations, but also reestablished itself as one of the city's most popular skateboard spots.

As Goldbar was about to show some of the chipped concrete and blackened ledges caused by skaters, two young skateboarders rolled-up and jumped up the stairs.

"Hey guys, sorry but you can't skate here."

Goldbar called security on her two-way radio and the sullen skaters rode off.

"You know, I think skateboarding is great exercise and the things they do are amazing," said Goldbar. "But I wish (the skaters) would realize this is a historical landmark and it should be respected."

Sometimes, such landmarks are seeped in mythology. Longtime workers at the Memorial talk of ghostly and unexplained noises.

Back inside, a door slammed. "Did you hear that?" asked Goldbar.

"Hello, hello. Who's there?" she called out repeatedly.

Nothing. She got on her radio again and asked the guards if anyone was in the building. "That's a negative," came through.

"You know, people have seen and heard strange things here," said Goldbar.

Another voice came through the radio. This time there was no Casper. Someone was just delivering ice.

Quick Facts

Where: The Memorial Auditorium is located at 15th and J streets in downtown Sacramento.

Parking: Street parking is available, and private parking lots line 15th Street.

For more information: Call (916) 264-5181
Front cover of Sacramento Memorial Auditorium: Seven Decades of Memories by Bonnie Wehle Snyder and Paula J. Boghosian (1997)
California Athletic Commission physician Dr. Richard Russell examines Ricky ("The Masked Gladiator") Hunter backstage at the KTXL Channel 40 TV station in Sacramento, California c.1971
Ray Stevens at the KTXL Channel 40 TV station in Sacramento, California 1972
Rocky Johnson backstage at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium 1972
Pepper Gomez with wrestling announcer Hank Renner at the KTXL Channel 40 TV station in Sacramento, California c.1971
Pat Patterson at the KTXL Channel 40 TV station in Sacramento, California

In several territories including Roy Shire's and later with WWE, Pat Patterson proved himself to be one of the great wrestling geniuses of all time, not only in his rugged performances in the ring and in TV interviews, but especially in his booking of the matches.

But for booker Pat Patterson the Roy Shire empire may well have crumbled much earlier that it did.
Moondog Mayne

Nine times out of ten when
1970s fans of Sacramento Memorial Auditorium wrestling contact The House of Deception to share memories of their favorites, they mention Moondog Mayne, one of the decade's most flamboyant and memorable showmen.

This entry, sent in by 1970s fan and now professional wrestler L'Empereur, currently working with Kirk White's Big Time Wrestling in the San Francisco Bay Area, captures the flavor of the house driven by Lonnie "Moondog" Mayne, one of the charasmatic greats of the squared circle:

"How about old Moondog making his way to the ring from 'Crabtree, Arkansas, weighing 290 lbs' in that poncho and headband. He would drop to his knees and howl...that was SOOO over with the crowd. Then, Peter Maivia, with a gorgeous lei around his neck came in. From TV we knew that Maivia had been down in LA with Pepper Martin learning the sleeper hold.

This was a two-out-of-three falls match and in the third fall Maivia busts out the sleeper, out goes Mayne (he even snored in the ring- what a hoot!), and Maivia is the New US Champ!! Of course, Maivia sold to the crowd asking if he should wake up the snoozing Mayne. The crowd chanted "No, No!", and [ring announcer Allen] Bolte announced that the decision would be reversed if he did not wake up his man. Maivia did the traditional trapezius massage, followed by a stiff slap to the back of the neck, and up springs Mayne, of course 'not knowing' the match was over. He attacks Maivia, Peter alertly reverses the whip into the ropes, and BAM, another sleeper. Mayne goes out again (Rene Goulet used to do this too!), and this time Maivia leaves the ring. They had to 'call a Doctor' to wake up Mayne. God, what heat that brought!"
Many of the wrestling pictures on this page are shown here through the generous written permission of the photographer Mr. Viktor Berry, Attorney at Law, who holds the copyright on the images.

If you copy his pictures or text without his written permission, there will be serious legal repercussions.

Simply stated: DON'T DO IT!
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, January 17, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Tuesday, January 30, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, February 14, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, February 28, 1962

(Sacramento Bee, July 11, 1997)

By Jim Carnes

Remember body slams and flying leg drops? Remember beefy boys in tights doing somersaults off the ropes and landing—splat! -- on an opponent? Remember half-nelsons and head-slams into the turnbuckles?

Remember Gorgeous George and George "The Animal" Steele?

Remember professional wrestling at Memorial Auditorium?

T.C. Martin and Jim Hanzalik do. As president and chief financial officer, respectively, of the National Wrestling Conference, the Sacramento pair want to create slammin’ memories for a new generation of fans.

"My dad would drop me off just about every week when I was a kid," Martin recalled the other day. "I was like a diehard fan."

Still is. He can hardly sit still as he discusses Saturday’s upcoming show at the Memorial, the third since the auditorium reopened last November. "It’s such a natural mix. Wrestling and the Memorial Auditorium go hand-in-hand," he said.

Indeed, during the late 1960s and ‘70s, the auditorium was the hub of wrestling activity in Northern California. Matches were broadcast on local television, and audiences consistently packed the place—whole families who squealed and screamed as the good guys battled the bad guys inside the roped-off arena.

It was contained and safe—and yet totally unpredictable.

"Our mission is to create that family-friendly entertainment again," said Hanzalik, a former coach and physical education teacher.

It may be a tall order. Anyone who has seen professional wrestling these days—usually on pay-per-view, or once every few years at Arco Arena—knows that things have changed from the old days. The kind of bare-bones production featuring guys who might actually have been athletes has long since disappeared. Now, there are smoke machines, loud music, outlandish costumes and characters with psychotic personalities acting out some script. Or so it appears.

Martin, a former sports radio host and ring announcer for the World Wrestling Federation, formed the NWC and staged its first bout at the Aladdin Theater on the Las Vegas strip Oct. 8, 1994. Three weeks later, he moved to the Silver Nugget Pavilion, where it has been ever since.

But Martin and Hanzalik want to make Sacramento the hub of operations, with regular shows at the Memorial Auditorium, expansion into Reno (where talks have already begun about staging matches) and onto television, with a weekly show like in the old days. All the auditorium matches are being videotaped for possible TV use.

The National Wrestling Conference has an uphill battle against the glitz and blitz of the sport’s two biggies, the WWF and World Championship Wrestling, but it relishes the role of 300-pound guerrilla. "At our first match in Vegas, a pin fall could occur anywhere in the casino," Martin said. "They were slamming each other into the slot machines, and there were chips flying everywhere! We had a Steel Cage War with weapons, where the wrestlers took fire extinguishers to each other. And one of our Vegas matches ended in a 15-man Battle Royal with all the wrestlers in the ring at once."

At the group’s second match in Sacramento, 52-year-old wrestling legend George "The Animal" Steele raced from the upper balcony of Memorial Auditorium down to the ring to challenge that no-goodnik The Thug, who used an illegal object to defeat the Navajo Kid.

Saturday’s show will feature an "Arabian Death Match" in which the loser will leave the ring in a casket.

The upstart organization has signed some familiar names from the world of big-time wrestling, stars such as Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Bam Bam Bigelow, the the Iron Sheik and, of course, Steele. There are new stars, too, including San Francisco’s Johnny "Psycho" Paine.

And there’s a school — the School of Hard Knocks, no less, run by wrestling greats Jesse Hernandez and Bill Anderson down L.A. way — that helps train aspiring pro wrestlers. "They teach them hold-for-hold wrestling, how to fly off the ropes, that sort of thing," Martin said.

"Most of the guys have some athletic background, so the school builds on that and teaches charisma, how to project an image and develop a character."

So it is all fake?

"There’s an element of entertainment in all sports," Hanzalik said. "Is wrestling real? I’m not going to say anything other than all sports is entertainment. Is professional basketball real? If you want to make it real, you make the baskets 12 feet high instead of 10. But audiences want to see the wild dunks and the acrobatic play."

Said Martin: "We realize that there is a hardcore (wrestling) fan out there who likes to see chairs broken and grudge matches, and we’ll give them that. Our guys are in great shape to do this. When you see a guy go through a table, that table is real. When you see a wrestler jump from the top of the ropes to a concrete floor, that floor is real.

"But you’re not going to see any ultraviolent things with us. We don’t go for foul language, and there’s no room for racial overtones or gang violence."

And while you’re not likely to see a free autograph session at a WWF show, the stars of NWC sign autographs before the matches and during intermission. For a fee (usually $10), fans also can get a Polaroid picture with their favorite wrestler.

Some of the wrestlers from Saturday’s card will be at Florin Mall today and Saturday to meet fans and sign autographs, too. They’ll be there from 6 to 9 tonight and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

"We’re going back to the old school just like we remember it," Martin said. "We want to give kids good memories. Everything’s not about money these days.
Opposition Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Sunday, March 4, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, March 28, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, April 11, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, May 2, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, May 23, 1962
Roy Shire & Louie Miller Wrestling Ad
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Wednesday, June 20, 1962
Wrestling Matches Results
Sacramento Union Newspaper
Sacramento Memorial Auditorium
Thursday, January 18, 1962

(Sacramento Bee, February 17, 1986)

By Dixie Reid

EARL BARNETT probably has a stronger sentimental stake in what happens to Sacramento Memorial Auditorium than anyone else in town. He designed it more than 60 years ago.The other day, Barnett toddled up to a fat column outside the place and embraced it. 'They tell me it's dangerous. Oooh,' he said playfully, 'it might fall on me.'

Then he stepped back and studied the facade.

'After seeing the ruins in Rome, this looks pretty substantial.'

The City Council will decide Tuesday whether to close the landmark, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The city recently lost its insurance coverage for the structure. Some of the complaints are that the ceiling isn't reinforced, there's no sprinkler system and access for the handicapped is insufficient.

The way Barnett figures things, the city should have been taking care of the old building and updating it all along. Now he's worried that it might be torn down.

'I sure wouldn't want to see that happen.'

Earl Barnett is 83 years old. He's a little stiff, he says, because he fell while dancing the other night. He speaks softly, clicking his tongue as he talks. His hair and beard are salt-white, giving him the appearance of a gentle Papa Hemingway. And in his Greek sailor's cap, he looks the part of the seaman he was during three steamer journeys around the world.

It was on one of those trips long, long ago, Barnett recalls, that he hugged another column, in Turkey. He so admired the architecture there, which is strongly reminiscent of the Byzantine Empire, that he incorporated it into plans for Sacramento's memorial to its war dead.

He entered college at the University of California, but before getting a degree he took a design job with Charlie Hemmings' architectural firm in Sacramento. One of Barnett's colleagues was a designer named Charles Dean. And when Dean and his brother, James, opened a firm in 1922, they invited young Barnett along.

'Charlie Dean was my tutor. He showed me how to watercolor. But I didn't want to desert Mr. Hemmings, so I stayed with him until he died, which was about a year later,' Barnett says.

However, just as Barnett was about to move over, Charlie Dean got sick. It was polio that kept Barnett's mentor bedridden for months and ultimately crippled him.

'He was so glad I was going to work for him,' Barnett says, 'because he had this big building to do, and he couldn't do it.'

The appearance of the auditorium was up to him, Barnett says, although he was working with another Dean company architect.

'I always like Byzantine - the flamboyance, the color. Howard Hazen, he died long ago, he was a very good designer. He liked Byzantine, too. So let's just say it was a meeting of the minds.'

Designing a public place in the early 1920s was a simpler task than it is now, Barnett says. The young men were given specifications for seating capacity and stage area and then were free to work their whims. Now, he says, architects are harnessed with too many regulations, too many committees.

After the Memorial Auditorium, at 16th and J streets, opened in 1926, Earl Barnett was one of its devoted patrons.

'I can't think how many times I've been up and down these steps,' he says, smiling. 'I came here for Governor 3 Rolph's inaugural ball (in 1931), with all those politicians having their grand march around the floor. And I saw Mary Garden (an American opera star) here on her farewell tour.

'And one time during the Second World War, there was a famous pianist who was to play here. I was about two blocks away, and there were people telling us to park our cars and turn off the lights. An air raid had just been sounded. Well, that poor man tried to carry on. But people were coming in late and banging chairs, and he really got irritated. And a curtain was blowing behind him. So he kept trying to play and hold back the curtain. Then somebody suddenly turned on the spotlight over him, and that startled him. I don't remember his name, but he sure wasn't very happy that night.'

During the last six decades, Barnett has heard a few complaints about the auditorium. For instance, people have told him they couldn't see over the folks sitting in front of them.

'That was the first building to have a floor on an elevator,' Barnett says. 'It could slope. Charlie Dean got a patent on it. But the floor didn't go down far enough.'

And sometimes the ventilation system didn't work too well. He remembers that the clouds of cigarette smoke that built up in the lobby during intermission would waft into the theater by the second act.

But the most fuss has been that the place is inadequate as an arena for performances.

'It wasn't designed to be a theater,' Barnett says. 'It was designed for automobile shows - and there were pretty unattractive cars back then - and for Pure Food shows, which were when electric refrigerators were just coming out and people were wanting to modernize their kitchens. Companies would set up little kitchens, to show people how they could look. And the junior college always had its Night in Vienna Ball there; it was a real fancy affair. The auditorium was the only theater we had for a long time.'

When the Community Center Theater opened in 1974, it became the city's primary site for the performing arts. So the old auditorium, with its 4,550 chairs, has remained the place to go to see wrestling, Roller Derby, boxing, rock concerts and ice shows.

Earl Barnett hasn't attended any event at the auditorium for a while, and he misses his architectural work. His last project, he says, was 10 years ago when he designed a clubhouse in Rancho Murieta. These days, he works mostly in the curio shop of a studio behind his house. There he makes and displays weavings, tapestries and ornamental masks.

Barnett beams as he gazes at the massive auditorium. The doors are locked, so he can't get inside. But as he slowly walks around it, he points out its four balconies, which, he says, were common to any place built in 'the grand manner.' Then he grumbles about the drab doors spreading across the auditorium's front; the originals were painted an antique blue.

'Still, though, it's a beautiful building,' he says. 'I sure wouldn't want anything to happen to it.'
At ringside a crowd of fans, always highly diverse, anxiously awaits the start of the wrestling matches at the KTXL Channel 40 TV station in Sacramento, California
Can you identify this wrestler? Please email us.
Thanks to John Shelvey and Bob Jurasin for emailing corrections for the photo captions on this page.
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