Wrestling World remembers ‘Killer’ Kowalski

kowalski1.jpgHere are some quotes from posts all over the internet on ‘Killer’ Kowalski.

‘I was just woken up by a phone call that I have been dreading. My good friend Steve King just called and informed me that our dear friend and trainer Walter “Killer” Kowalski has passed away.

‘Anyone who knows me knows that I have always attributed Walter with all of my success in pro wrestling. He took in a 20 year old kid who had traveled 3,000 miles from southern California, and embraced him like a son. He was kind enough to pass on his extensive, and unique knowledge of this business to me.

‘So much of the best things that have happened to me are a direct result of his mentoring. The people I have met, the relationships I have made, and my success in and out of the ring are a direct result of him. Walter loved angels. We had many conversations about them on our regular trips to church that we both enjoyed on Sundays. To me, and anyone who knew him, Walter was an angel. He was a gentleman, friend, and honestly one of the best people to come into my life. Walter, I love you and I could never sing your praise enough. You set me on a path in this business, and in life, that has been in one word, a dream.

‘Rest in the kingdom of heaven my dear friend, as you are now amongst the angels that you loved.

‘Your student, friend, and brother in Christ.’

– TNA star Frankie Kazarian aka Kaz

‘Kowalski will always be considered one of the businesses greatest antagonists and he was a perennial main eventer around the world for decades. Walter also was an accomplished photographer, writer, and taught many individuals who went on to become some of wrestling’s more prominent names including his best student, HHH.

‘Walter was a staunch disciplinarian when he was actively teaching his students but had a heart of gold and a unique sense of humor. For example, when Walter married at approximately 79 years of age he kidded some of his closest acquaintances that “he had to marry the lady because she was with child.”

‘Kowalski was a vegan who at one time had one of the most freakish physiques of any one in the business and was always considered too nice a guy by many promoters to be a wrestling “bad guy” but nonetheless Killer Kowalski will always be remembered for being one of the wrestling business all time greats.

‘God Bless you Walter….thanks for the kindness and friendship you bestowed upon me and may you rest in eternal peace.’

-Jim Ross

‘They told me of an interview on a national TV show where the host asked Killer Kowalski if it hurt when he stomped his opponent in the face with his size 16 wrestling boot. Killer replied, “No it doesn’t hurt at all. I wear special thick soles and it doesn’t hurt my foot at all.”

‘The value of a professional wrestler to a promotion is his box office appeal. My first match was in Sydney Stadium, only a short walk from our hotel in Kings Cross. Sydney Stadium held 17,000 people and it was packed to the rafters for the main event, Killer Kowalski against Tex McKenzie. That same week Killer Kowalski and Tex McKenzie sold out Melbourne’s Festival Hall, 12,000 fans, Perth Australia’s National Stadium 25,000 people and Brisbane sold out to the tune of 8,000 people. Killer Kowalski was the biggest star in one of the best territories in the world, Australia.

‘We worked five days a week and traveled first class from one end of the country to the other. Killer Kowalski was the top heel for Jim Barnett’s Promotion. First class is the best way to describe Killer Kowalski as a person. It was such a thrill on the end of the tour to have the opportunity to wrestle the person I had been so impressed with as a child.

‘Killer Kowalski was a dear friend of Marti and I.

‘We will miss him.

‘Our condolences to his family.

‘Dory Funk Jr. and Marti Funk’

– Funk’s corner

‘There was not a kinder or more compassionate human being when I first began meeting wrestlers in the mid 1970’s than Killer Kowalski . Being a fan before my dream of getting involved in this company became true, I always was in awe of Killer’s machine-like tenacity inside the squared circle. He was a relentless and always aggressive combatant. I marveled at the battles that he and Bruno Sammartino had in Madison Square Garden. They brought out the best in each other, and without a doubt both men garnered my utmost respect.

‘When I met Walter, it was in the summer of 1976 in Worcester, Massachusetts. I was doing something I affectionately call “ring announcing for beginners”. Even though I use January 17, 1977 in the Garden as my benchmark for the start of my ring annoucning career , I guess you can say that I had a few “Off-Broadway “engagements prior to that. It was a standard “hello, nice to meet you” greeting with Kowalski. But just to have his huge hand envelop mine was awesome. He teamed up with an individual who became known as Big John Studd, and they wrestled as the Masked Executioners that evening. After the event was over and I got to the back, Kowalski saw me and said “nice job out there”, and we shook hands again. To get a salutation like that from a man of his esteem meant everything to a then novice like myself at that time.

‘My weekend is somewhat saddened by the passing of Killer Kowalski, but that sorrow is tempered in the knowledge that he will always be remembered as truly one of the greatest performers in the history of our business.’

– Fink

‘REMEMBERING KILLER KOWALSKI

‘ALL I HAVE ARE GREAT MEMORIES OF THIS GREAT GUY. KOWOLSKI WAS A TRUE LEGEND & 1 OF THE GREAST PESONALITIES EVER. I HAD THE PLEASURE OF MEETING HIM AT MANY LIVE EVENTS I ATTENDED & REALLY GETTING A CHANCE TO BE AROUND HIM AT THE CONVENTIONS JOHN AREZZI USED TO RUN, HE’D POSE FOR POLAROIDS, LET YOU TAKE PHOTOS WITH OWN CAMERA, SIGN 8X10’S & TELL YOU STORIES AL GREAT & FUNNY ABOUT LIFE ONTHE ROAD. HE WAS A TOP TALENT & FOUGHT THE BEST LIKE SAMMARTIO & THE CLAW HOLD WAS UNBELIEVABLE, HIS HANDS WERE HUGH. I REMEMBER HIM IN A MASK W/THE GRAND WIZARD & SAID THE MASK IS BECAUSE WE ARE TIRED OF OPPONENTS PULLING HIS HAIR & HIS EARS & HE’S WEARING IT FOR PROTECTION. HE EVEN FEUDED IN FLORIDA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING AS THE MASKED DESTROER WITH ROSEVELT JONES (THEY FEUDED IN THE WWWF SD JONES/KOWOLSKI). EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A SO-CALLED BAD GUY, HIS HEART WAS AS BIG AS THE GREAT OUTDOORS. HE ALWAYS SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS FOR YOUNG & OLD & NEVER LEFT UNTIL EVERBODY GOT A SIGNATURE A HANDSHAKE OR A HUG, WHAT A CLASS ACT, WHAT A GENTLEMAN & WHAT A WRESTLER. REMEMBERING HIM AS THE MASKED EXECUTION WITH CHUCK O’CONNOR (1 & 2) WHO LATER BECAME BIG JOHN STUDD. THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES MAY GOD GIVE YOU A GREAT PLACE IN THAT BIG RING IN THE SKY. WE LOVE YOU KILLER KOWOLSKI’

– DOMINICK VALENTI

There’s a great tribut article for Walter “Killer” Kowalski at April Hunter’s wrestling site, prowrestlingdigest.com.

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Services will be held this Wednesday, September 3 at:

Weir Funeral Home
144 Salem Street
Malden, MA 02148
Afternoon Services: 2-4 p.m.
Evening Services: 6-8 p.m.

The Funeral will be on Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that wrestling fans send donations to:

Walter “Killer” Kowalski Memorial Fund
c/o Citizens Bank
876 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148

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