Terrible Ted

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Terrible Ted
Ted and McKigney.jpg
Ring name(s) The Wrestling Bear
Billed height 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)
Billed weight 600 lb (270 kg)[1]
Born 1949 or 1950[2]
Gaspé Peninsula[3]
Trained by Dave McKigney[3]
Debut 1950[4]
Retired 1974[4]

Terrible Ted (born 1949 or 1950[2]) was a Canadian professional wrestler and American black bear, who wrestled for various North American promotions from the 1950s into the 1970s.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

All dates and results from WrestlingData.com

Ted debuted on April 1, 1950, defeating Tony Galento in Asbury Park, New Jersey. A rematch on May 3, for Clarence Luttral's Florida territory (which later became Championship Wrestling from Florida) in Coral Gables, ended without a winner. A third and final match happened on June 11, in Marion, Ohio; the result is unknown. There is a strong possibility that these matches involved a different, similarly named bear.[5]

Ted then took a long hiatus from wrestling. During this time, he met Dave McKigney (also known as Gene/Jean DeBois/DuBois, The Beast and The Canadian Wildman), who adopted and trained him. On Boxing Day in 1958, before 8,250 fans, "Terrible" Ted, as he was now known, defeated his mentor at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. He wrestled three more matches for Maple Leaf Wrestling to start 1959, then headed to Stampede Wrestling, working across Alberta and Saskatchewan. He also had a couple of matches for Tri-State Sports in Idaho.

In 1960-61, Ted wrestled primarily in the southern United States, losing only twice in 24 matches, to Gypsy Joe and Man Mountain Managoff. On May 6, 1960, he won an 8-on-1 handicap match over a team including NWA Hall of Famer Angelo Savoldi and Don Kent.

After a hiatus, Ted returned to Maple Leaf Gardens on August 13, 1964, again defeating his trainer, Gene DeBois. He wrestled twice more at The Gardens in December, first winning a rematch with DeBois, then pinning Skunkman on New Year's Eve.

After winning a couple of battle royales in 1965 for Georgia Championship Wrestling, Ted wrestled for most of the rest of the sixties in Ontario and Alberta. On Christmas Day in 1969, he returned to the United States to wrestle an exhibition match with Debois in Cleveland, Ohio.

On October 15, 1971, Ted made his WWWF debut against The Beast at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Earlier that year, he wrestled for the first time in the Maritimes (Halifax) and California (where he defeated future WWWF Champion, Billy Graham).

In 1972, during his stint in Roy Shire's San Francisco territory, Ted teamed with future WWF Tag Team Champion and Hall of Famer, Rocky Johnson, to defeat Luke Graham and Fritz von Goering. In December, he defeated Bobby Heenan (another WWE Hall of Famer) and Baron von Raschke (a St. Louis Hall of Famer) in a handicap match for the World Wrestling Association (WWA).

He continued wrestling for the WWA and San Francisco in 1973, during which time he faced his first female opponent, Tanya West. He defeated her by countout on November 12 then, four days later, beat her team in a six-person mixed tag match. In December, he returned to the Mid-America territory, defeating Tony Santos in Nashville, Tennessee on December 26.

After defeating Sam Bass in Nashville in January 1974, Ted retired from professional wrestling.

Personal life[edit]

Ted was declawed and detoothed, and travelled with a carnival in his early years. When the carnival went bankrupt in the early 1950s, he was adopted by Dave McKigney. Later, he was joined by another bear, Smokey.[6]

On July 13, 1966, McKigney offered $3,000 to anyone who could pin Ted. The challenge was accepted and met by John Szigeti (a 36-year-old welder who wanted the money for truck repairs), who pinned Ted "for maybe 15 seconds" before McKigney pried him free. McKigney and promoter Howard Darvin refused to pay the prize, so Szigeti sued them in May 1968.[7]

In October 1970, Ted spent several days in the Lowndes County jail. McKigney had offered a $1,500 prize to anyone who would wrestle Ted, which was accepted by a 350-pound construction worker named Ed Williams. Before the match, McKigney informed Williams that Ted had recently developed a poor disposition and could be dangerous, and so cancelled the match. Williams accused him of welching on the deal, and signed a writ of attachment. Ted was held as security, and later released on $3,000 bail and McKigney's promise to appear in court.[8]

Ted briefly lived at Stu Hart's home in Calgary while working for Stampede, where a young Bret Hart would let him lick ice cream off of his feet.[3][9]

On July 2, 1978, in Aurora, Ontario, McKigney left Smokey's cage door open while he answered the phone. Smokey entered McKigney's house and mauled his girlfriend, 30-year-old Lynn Orser, to death. As a result, both bears were taken away by the Ontario Humane Society. Smokey showed no signs of rabies as of July 5, but was under a 14-day quarantine.[6][10] McKigney's only possible explanation was that bears sometimes act unpredictably during mating season.[11] Their fate is uncertain.

In July 1988, in Newfoundland, McKigney was driving to a wrestling show with Keith Franke (better known as Adrian Adonis) and William and Victor Arko (Mike and Pat Kelly). He swerved to avoid hitting a moose on the Trans-Canada Highway and crashed the van, killing himself, Franke and Victor Arko and injuring William Arko.[6]

In wrestling[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wrestling Bear, Mighty Ursus headline card", from Edmonton Journal, March 31, 1959
  2. ^ a b "Wrestlers? I eat them", from Windsor Star, August 20, 1969
  3. ^ a b c "Terrible Ted the Battling Bear", from CBC.ca
  4. ^ a b Terrible Ted's match history, from WrestlingData.com
  5. ^ McKigney says Ted is 19 on August 20, 1969. This would make him six months old, at most, in the first Galeno match, and less than 100 pounds. Not likely an intriguing battle. But not impossible.
  6. ^ a b c Dave McKigney Bio, from Slam Wrestling
  7. ^ "Bear wrestler sues promoter", from The Phoenix, May 7, 1968
  8. ^ "Fighting bear chickens out?", from Beaver County Times, October 16, 1970
  9. ^ "Positive heroes key for kids", from Slam Wrestling
  10. ^ "Killer bear healthy, says vet", from Montreal Gazette, July 5, 1978
  11. ^ "Wrestler can't explain why trained bear killed", from Montreal Gazette, July 5, 1978
  12. ^ a b c "Bear will highlight mat card", from Leader-Post, March 26, 1959

External links[edit]

Terrible Ted's profile at WrestlingData.com