I understand that you came to the Mid-Atlantic area in
late 1975 after you caught the eye of George Scott when you
were working for the IWA?
I got the TV exposure on the IWA, where George Scott saw
me. George was the booker for Crockett Promotions at the time.
George’s kid who was doing the tapes saw me. George told me
that his boy told him that if you don’t get anybody else
from the IWA, get that referee.
told me when I came over, that he wanted me immediately. This
was November of 1975. The night I was hired by George I worked
Park Center here in
. George said he woke his kid up that night to tell him that
he had just hired Tommy Young.
Wasn’t it the case that Jimmy Crockett didn’t want to
hire anybody from the old IWA, and George pretty much decided
to do it on his own?
Right, because the IWA was the ‘opposition.’ Back
then, I told George that I didn’t even know what
‘opposition’ was. I’m just some new guy coming along,
trying to get an opportunity. I never meant to be Crockett’s
said he knew that, not to worry about it and he was going to
use me. A few days later I got a call from Gene
Anderson…(Tommy then used his best Gene Anderson impression)
‘Tommy Young—got some bookings for you—come on down
kid.’ The rest is history.
But didn’t you play hockey early on, Tommy?
I played a little hockey. Didn’t play all that much
organized hockey. It was mostly just pick-up hockey.
How did you get in the wrestling business at the very
I always liked wrestling, ever since I was a kid. But I never
really thought that I would get into it.
was just driving a truck in Detroit
in the early 70’s. Lou Klein, who was one of the Bastien
brothers, was the local guy on the Big Time Wrestling show up
there who did a ‘You Want To Be a Wrestler/Come On Down’
commercial right on their TV show.
Was this what was referred to as the original Sheik’s
That’s correct. The Sheik was the big boss back then.
was having trouble at work with my foreman at the time, so I
decided to go down there and follow up on this commercial. I
was 25 at the time. I knew wrestling wasn’t on the
up-and-up. If I ever thought it was real, I wouldn’t have
gotten near that place. (everybody laughs)
not a tough guy and I can’t wrestle. There were three guys,
and the two guys ahead of me wanted to work out a payment plan
to train. I walked up and threw the $300.00 on [Lou’s] desk
and he threw the others out and trained me. He smartened me
right up, which he really shouldn’t have done. But really
it’s a good thing that he did, because if they’d beat the
hell out of me like they did to a lot of the guys, I would
have left. I’d have just run…you can have this.
So, you actually started in the business as a wrestler as
opposed to a referee?
Yes, I broke in to wrestle. I wrestled my first three-four
months in. I went to see Lou in February of 1973 and had my
first match in August of 1973. It was at a high school against
a guy named Dr. H.
the collection of Ben Martin)
more photos from this IWA program article.
think I wrestled through October-November of 1973. It was only
part time. I was just a jobber, underneath mostly. Kind of
like what George did…getting beat up by guys.
(Smiles and nods.)
How did they train you as a wrestler?
We’d get in the ring and lock up, and Lou showed me a
couple of basic things. That’s all Lou ever did, other than
taking my $300.00. He’s was always training guys, and after
3-4 months those guys would start training the brand new guys.
It was almost like a pyramid type of thing.
Well, I guess the big question now becomes…how did you
become a referee?
I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right
time. So much of life is timing…being at the right spot at
the right time.
night we were in Canton, Ohio, and the referee didn’t show up and they were in a panic. I
told them to let me referee…scratch my match. I was the
opening match and it didn’t mean anything. I had a basic
knowledge of what was going on.
got in the ring and refereed the whole show. Afterwards, I had
three-four guys come up to me and told me to pursue
refereeing. They said, ‘you ain’t going to make it as a
wrestler, but damn you’re good as a ref.’
refereeing for the Sheik’s promotion for us.
I did a lot of the Sheik’s TV. Once they realized I
could ref, they used me more and more.
had a very strict commission, and it was hard to get a license
there to ref.
Was the Sheik helpful to you?
The Sheik did nothing to help my career…nothing at all.
But you still refereed for his promotion for the rest of
1973 and 1974, before going to the IWA?
At that time, I was really rotating it around my job. They
would call me up on the phone at work…can you make so and
so. It really depended on my schedule at work. I mainly
refereed, but I did wrestle a little too then.
were very loose about it…if I couldn’t make a particular
card the Sheik had a stable of other guys.
Dick mentioned you going to the IWA (International
Wrestling Association). Personally, my first recollections of
you were when you were refereeing for the IWA in 1975. How did
you end up in the IWA?
The guy that got me the opening for the IWA was a guy by
the name of George “Crybaby” Cannon. He lived right across
the river from
Canada. I developed a pretty good friendship with George.
big boss for the IWA was a guy named Eddie Einhorn.
I read somewhere that Einhorn was a mark.
A total mark. Kind of like me…smarten him up and he’s
still a mark. (everyone laughs) But he was a very nice man.
When did you start for the IWA?
I was originally supposed to go to IWA’s opening show in
in January of 1975. I was supposed to just go down and do jobs
as a wrestler.
During your time in the IWA in 1975, did you basically
work Crockett’s Mid-Atlantic territorial area?
No, we were really moving all around. The opening taping
, but we would go to Florida
some. We did do a lot of work in the Carolina’s. We also went up north and tried to challenge Vince
McMahon, Sr. in the New York/New Jersey area.
When you all were in the Carolina’s with Einhorn’s IWA in 1975, did Crockett try to shut
you all out of buildings around here?
Crockett did try to keep us out of buildings when I was
working for Einhorn. I remember one time Mid-Atlantic tried to
keep us out of the building in Lynchburg,
Virginia, but they couldn’t do it.
How long did the IWA last?
Einhorn’s IWA lasted from the opening taping in
in January of 1975 to our last show that was in
. That was October of 1975 when Einhohn got out. And when
Einhorn was out I was out.
that, a sort of “mini IWA” opened in the
’s area with Johnny Powers running it with Ronny Martinez.
They held on for a while into 1976 as an opposition to
Crockett. But by that time, as I said before, George Scott had
brought me into Mid-Atlantic to work for Crockett. I never
worked the ‘outlaw’ IWA.
IWA tried to go after Crockett with a monopoly lawsuit. It
really was a monopoly, but Crockett won…I don’t know how
he did it, but he won.
heard stories that Powers’ attorney had a home bought and
everything just on what he was going to get from winning the
suit against Crockett. When they said ‘not guilty,’
Powers’ group was just stunned. That was the end of it all
then…Powers and them just folded up.
The path that you took to become a ref, do you think that
was a typical path for other would-be refs?
Again, I would suspect for most it involves being at the
right place at the right time. Take Charles for example. Right
One night I told Jody (
) to take a look at Charles, but that didn’t really mean
anything. The simple truth was, Charles was there with his
equipment that night when they needed somebody. (Terry)
spotted you, and there you go.
love to say that I was the reason Charles is in the business,
but I’m not.
Well, Tommy is one of the big reasons. And I’ve
patterned my style after Tommy.
Hey Tommy…did you hear what Charles said…he just
copies you! (laughs)
He doesn’t use my style…he has his own style.
Did being a referee seem to come naturally to you Tommy?
It’s all psychology. You play with the people’s minds.
You try to get yourself in a position not to see stuff. I told
guys, if you’ll do it right…when I’m trying to catch you
but I can’t…I’ll let you do it all night.
you have to feel the crowd. If the crowd is getting totally
disgusted, like thinking ‘you dumb SOB referee,’ you
don’t want that because you’ll run the crowd off due to
the referee coming off as too stupid to believe.
relished refereeing…it was fun. Most guys that were
refereeing, if they had a choice they would have been
wrestlers rather than refs. I never wanted to wrestle after I
started refereeing. Being a ref was my forte…that’s what I
was best at.
was going to suck as a wrestler. But as a referee, it just
came so natural.
Did you ever have any formal training as a referee?
I never took a lesson, and nobody ever told me anything. I
learned it all by feel…as do most referees. I don’t know
of any referee’s school.
Weren’t you influenced by anyone…like another
Believe it not, I learned some things from (Sonny)
. How’s that for an admission. (everyone laughs)
Could you repeat that? I don’t think I heard that right!
Continued in PART