Sunday, April 20, 2008

Killer Kowalski in hospital, by Kevin Eck - Baltimore Sun

This entry is for the old-timers (like myself).

Wladek “Killer” Kowalski, one of pro wrestling’s all-time great heels, is recovering in a physical rehabilitation center in Massachusetts after badly injuring his knees in three separate falls, according to a report on Kowalski, 81, has been at the rehab facility since April 2 after a two-week stay in the hospital.

The report attributed the news of Kowalski’s condition to wrestling great Bruno Sammartino, a longtime in-ring rival of Kowalski’s who has been in contact with Kowalski’s wife.

Kowalski, a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, wrestled from 1947 to 1977. He is most famous for a match in 1954 against Yukon Eric in which Eric’s ear was severed as the result of Kowalski’s kneedrop. Kowalski was a frequent challenger to Sammartino’s WWE title throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

After retiring from wrestling, he opened a wrestling school and trained people such as Triple H, Big John Studd, Chyna and Perry Saturn. In 1976, he and Studd formed a masked tag team known as The Executioners and won the WWE tag-team title.

Kowalski was in WWE — then known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation — when I first started following wrestling when I was 6 and believed it was real. Kowalski, a menacing figure at about 6 feet 7 and 275 pounds, was the only wrestler that actually frightened me. I still remember watching him wrestle Tony Garea at the Baltimore Civic Center around 1974 and believing that Garea might not make it out of the ring alive. I took the “Killer” moniker literally because Kowalski was so good at being bad.

I wish Kowalski well in his recovery.

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Wladek “Killer” Kowalski