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144 Salem Street, Malden, MA 02148

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Walter “Killer” Kowalski

 

            Walter E. “Killer” Kowalski, the famous professional wrestler who is regarded as one of the greatest all-around wrestlers and a pioneer of the sport, passed away on Saturday morning August 30, 2008 at the age of 81.  Born on October 13, 1926 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada as Wladek E. Spulnik. Walter was the son of the late Polish immigrants Anthony & Marie (Borovska) Spulnik.  He was raised and educated in Windsor.  After high school, Walter attended Assumption College (now currently the University of Windsor) to study electrical engineering.   He went to work for the Ford Motor Company over the boarder in Detroit on a part-time basis during school.  While working out at a local YMCA, a suggestion was thrown at him that would change his life.  Walter was told that professional wrestling would be a great career for him.  He soon joined the local circuit but found it difficult to get time off from Ford and college to compete in his matches.  Lucky for wrestling fans, Walter decided to pursue his passion and become a pro wrestler.

            Walter began his professional career in 1947 as “Tarzan” Kowalski.  He soon became known as “Killer” because of his hulking 6’7”, 275 lb frame and his brutal wrestling style.  One of his most famous matches came against Yukon Eric in the Montreal Forum in 1954.  Killer accidentally tore a piece of a badly cauliflower ear off his opponent while performing one of his signature “diving knee drops.”  After the match, Killer visited Yukon Eric in the hospital to check up on him.  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” or “villain.”    

            Killer, who was famous for his “Claw Hold” as his finishing move, won numerous titles during his illustrious career.  He was a 5-time winner of the IWA World Heavyweight Championship, a 2-time winner of the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship, and an astonishing 12-time winner of the MAC World/International Heavyweight Championship.  During the 1960’s, he held several titles while wrestling in Australia.  Killer was also the winner of many tag-team championships during the 1970’s.  Killer was one half of the team “The Executioners” with Big John Studd.  The two captured the WWF World Wrestling Tag Team Championship in May of 1976.  Killer called it a career in 1977.

            Killer’s love of wrestling did not end with his retirement.  He started the Killer Kowalski's  Professional Wrestling School which was located in Malden Square on Pleasant Street in Malden.  The school was located across the street from Jack’s Music Shop.  One day, Theresa A. Dodd (Ferrioli) was in the music shop and saw the shop owner’s wrestling memorabilia.  Soon after, an introduction was arranged and Walter and Theresa met.  On June 19, 2006, the couple was married in St. Theresa Church, in North Reading, MA   and began their lives together in Malden.  The wrestling school continues to operate, now located in North Andover under new ownership as Killer sold the school in 2003.  He was actively involved in his training of his student’s right up until the sale.  Some of Killer’s most famous protégés include Triple H, Chyna, and Perry Saturn.  Walter had many students that loved him and was an avid photographer and a great poet. One of his famous mottos was “early to bed and early to rise”. Walter had been a strict vegetarian for the last sixty years, dedicated to fitness, always taking vitamins daily, never used milk and little or no cheese; he also never drank or smoked.

           Killer was inducted into many of the various wrestling hall of fames including the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards Hall of Fame, Class of 1996, the World Wrestling Federation Hall of Fame, Class of 1996, and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum, Class of 2003.  Killer was also the recipient of the prestigious Iron Mike Mazurki Award given by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2002.  

            Though he was known as Killer and a hated villain in the ring, Walter was anything but. He  was heavily involved with the Suburban Special Needs of Middlesex, operating out of Stoneham.  The organization ran from 1970 until 1995 and they raised funds to provide children with special needs the means necessary to experience childhood events, such as summer camps.  A deeply religious and loving man, he was always there to help out charities and fund-raising events using his big notoriety and even bigger heart.        

Walter is survived by his wife, Theresa A. Kowalski of Malden, his brother, Stanley Spulnik of Ottawa, Canada, as well as several nieces and nephews. 

In addition to his parents, Walter was preceded in death by his sister, Wanda Wojik.

            Funeral from the Weir-MacCuish Golden Rule Funeral Home, 144 Salem Street, Malden on Thursday , September  4, 2008  at 7:45 AM  followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Joseph’s Church, 770 Salem Street, Malden, MA  at 9 AM.

Visitation will be held in the Weir-MacCuish Golden Rule Funeral Home, 144 Salem St., Malden, MA on Wednesday from 2-4 & 6-8  PM.

 In lieu of flowers the family has requested that donations be made to the memorial  fund listed below.

DONATIONS CAN BE MAILED TO:

THE WALTER “KILLER” KOWALSKI MEMORIAL FUND

C/O

CITIZENS BANK

876 MAIN ST.

MALDEN, MA 02148

Friends of Killer, wish to announce that they will be holding:

The Killer Kowalski Memorial Wrestling Show

Sunday, October 26, 2008

At 2:00  PM in  the

Irish American Club

177 West St., Malden, MA 02148

All Proceeds Benefit

The Walter “Killer” Kowalski Memorial Fund

For Further information contact:

Super Pro Wrestling at 781-324-9568

Byrne Karate & Wrestling Studio

38 Eastern Ave.

Malden, MA 02148

                       

For additional information about Killer’s wrestling accomplishments and career notes, please visit the following links:

 

http://www.killerkowalskis.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wladek_Kowalski

http://www.wwe.com/superstars/halloffame/killerkowalski/bio/

 

 

 

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