Tuesday has always been Louisville’s night for wrestling. Ohio Valley Wrestling tapes their TV show on Tuesday, and Memphis Wrestling ruled the Louisville Gardens for decades. But 35 years before Jerry Lawler came to town, Heywood Allen presented Louisville with a front row seat to the golden age of grappling.
The Allen Athletic Club ran every Tuesday night at the Columbia Gym on 4th Street, bringing Louisville fans a steady stream of the biggest names in wrestling for 22 years. Fans booed Wild Bill Longson and cheered heroes like Mildred Burke. They embraced the pageantry of Gorgeous George and thrilled to the terror of Ginger the Wrestling Bear. They celebrated hometown heroes like the Black Panther Jim Mitchell and jeered the dastardly Stu Gibson. They even cheered the Nature Boy Buddy Rogers while booing the great champion Lou Thesz!
The Allen Club had it all: mud wrestling, ladies wrestling, tag team wrestling, alligator wrestling, and midget wrestling. They packed the Columbia Gym, the future Louisville Gardens, and even an open air arena every week with rowdy fans who weren’t above throwing seat cushions if they didn’t like what they say. They even presented live wrestling on television the week WHAS TV went on the air.
Promoters Heywood Allen and Francis MacDonogh established a tradition that continues to this day. Tuesday night is wrestling night in the Derby City, and it’s all because of the weekly extravaganza that came to be called Louisville’s Greatest Show!
Number of pages: 284
Books are signed by author John Cosper.
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