PRO-WRESTLING pioneer and legend Walter "Killer" Kowalski has died following a heart attack. He was 81.
Kowalski died at Whidden Hospital in Everett, Massachusetts, on Saturday - 12 days after his family decided to take him off life support. He had been in critical condition since his heart attack on August 8, wife Theresa Kowalski said.
An obituary posted at Weir Mac Cuish Family Funeral Home's Web site said Kowalski began his professional career in 1947. His 6-foot-7, 275-pound frame and a brutal wrestling style soon earned him the nickname "Killer."
He became known as a villain after severing part of Yukon Eric's ear during a match in Montreal in 1954. He visited his opponent in the hospital and "the two men began laughing at how silly Eric's bandages looked. The reporter incorrectly printed that Killer was laughing at his victim and soon after, Killer quickly became wrestling's most renowned 'heel,'" according to the Web site.
Kowalski later became famous for various moves, including a stomach vice grip called the Killer Clutch. He retired in 1977, a year after he and Big John Studd captured the WWF Tag Team Championship as The Executioners.
He went on to open a wrestling school in Malden, where he trained many current stars including WWE's Triple H.
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Walter "Killer" Kowalski