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
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.
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
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.
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
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
For Further information
Super Pro Wrestling at
Byrne Karate & Wrestling Studio
38 Eastern Ave.
Malden, MA 02148
additional information about Killer’s wrestling accomplishments
and career notes, please visit the following links: