Monday, July 25, 2011

Friendly Encounters

This is a regular series which features my friends who have met celebs.

I have featured Josh Watko several times in the past.  He is a great wrestling fan with a fascinating wrestling site called JW's Wrestling Memorabilia.  His site has everything including product reviews, commentaries, event reports and much more, all related to wrestling.
Josh has been very gracious by sharing some of his wrestling encounters here.  He tells a great story and I always like letting him tell it.  Here is his latest story:

For the past two years, Pittsburgh wrestling fans have had some incredible opportunities.  A half-dozen separate "Studio Wrestling Reunion" signings have been held in the area, including not only local hero Bruno Sammartino and other stars of the old Pittsburgh wrestling telecast, but also men such as George Steele, Greg Valentine and Larry Zbyszko who all had local ties.
Although the Studio Wrestling program ended in the early 70's, fans of all ages have taken advantage of meeting these men who are such a big part of Pittsburgh's heritage.  Blue collar workers and their families have always enjoyed a good wrestling match.
For the last two reunions, Tony Marino was included in the lineup.  A strongman remembered by fans around the country as a good hand in the ring, to Pittsburgh fans, Marino is simply known as "The Battman".
When the 1966 Adam West Batman tv series took over the nation, Pittsburgh wrestling fans were introduced to The Battman on the Studio Wrestling show.  Although an extra "T" was added to the name, the original costume was very close to the one used on the series.  While there was originally a "Boy Wonder" wrestler sidekick, Marino was able to successfully bring the character to life and continue using the gimmick for several years.
It was a thrill to meet this grappler who so many of my family members remember from their childhoods and get him to sign an iconic Wrestling Revue cover featuring the gimmick. 
Mr. Marino himself is an amazing man.  It is easy to see how this charismatic gentleman was able to make the character a success.  Hardly looking his actual age of almost 80, the hair on the back of Marino's head is shaved in the form of the Batsignal.  Holy Grappling Greats!
I love this story.It is wrestlers like Marino who helped carry the sport in its regional days.  As always, I appreciate Josh for sharing it and I encourage everyone to check out JW's Wrestling Memorabilia site.
Tony Marino and Josh Watko in Pittsburgh, PA-Mid-2011.


J\/\/ said...

Didn't expect to see this today! :-)

Johngy said...

Always glad to have a contribution from you.