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August 13, 2009

Proof that my wrestling fixation started at a young age

I got an e-mail a couple days ago from a guy who said that he was going through his collection of old wrestling magazines when he came across a picture of me as a kid in one of them. It was in the wrestling pen pals section, which was a staple of the “Apter mags” in the 1970s. I have the magazine, but it had been years since I’ve seen it, so I went through my own vast collection of wrestling mags and found it.


The cover date for the issue of Inside Wrestling was October 1975, which made me 8 at the time. The first thing I noticed when I looked at my photo was how big the space was between my two front teeth (years of wearing braces corrected that problem). The other thing I noticed was that I was the youngest of the 24 people looking for fellow wrestling fans to correspond with. More than half of them were teenagers, and the oldest was a 29-year-old guy from Flushing, N.Y., who was seeking girls for pen pals. He looked like someone you’d expect to see being grilled by Chris Hansen on “To Catch a Predator.”

Looking at the cover – which showed Superstar Billy Graham and Jimmy Valiant with the proverbial crimson masks – and the ads inside for blow-up dolls and guides on how to pick up girls, I still can’t believe my parents bought those magazines for me.

By the way, you’ll notice that I listed Valiant as my favorite wrestler. This is back when “Handsome Jimmy” was a cocky, bleached blonde who was part of the infamous Valiant Brothers tag team along with Luscious Johnny. By the time he became the “Boogie Woogie Man,” he was far from my favorite.


Posted by Kevin Eck at 4:03 PM | | Comments (17)


Small world. I was born in Oct 1975. Did you steal Letterman's gap teeth for that picture?

wasn't stasiak your favourite?

RESPONSE FROM KE: He was my original favorite when I was 6. Once the Valiants showed up, Stan was no longer The Man in my eyes.

Kevin , that is priceless !!! You are the man !

I went to my first wrestling show at age 6, 1965 was the year. My grandmother took me to the Baltimore civic Center. The main event was Bruno Samartino v Crazy Luke Graham. The match I remember most was Sky Low Low v Fuzzy Cupid. Graham was disqualified, I think. Sky Low Low pinned Cupid.
I'm 50 years old, and have been through the evolution of wrestling. I saw Superstar Billy Graham beat Samartino for the title. All of us knew something was going to happen because there were cameras, actually 1 camera. There were never cameras at a house show unless something was going to happen. I loved wrestling until the Benoit tragedy. My love and passion left. Now, I read your column and maybe for my wrestling news. I try to watch the shows but after a few minutes, I go to bed. Damn you, Chris Benoit!

Eck that is cool. i used to read the wrestling magazines in the 1980's religiously. I used to love the heel article by Dan Shockett in PWI Is Jim Valiant the Boogie Man from my youth?

The masthead on the magazine appears to be in error. It should not have been about Paul Jones as the projected NWA champion, but rather about Kevin Eck as the coming internet guru for all things related to pro wrestling. What happened to their normally spot on research department?

They also should have given you an inside page endorsement, perhaps from Mr. Wrestling II - the toughest reporter he ever faced, etc.

When I was a kid growing up in central N.J., I would sit in my father's chair while he was repairing something on his work bench in the basement, and we would watch wrestling on Saturday afternoons. We could get channels from both Philly and NYC. That meant twice the wrestling, and a double dose of Dragnet and Sky King as well! My favorite wrestlers from that era were Bruno Samartino, Spiros Arion, Buddy Rogers, and Bobo Brazil. Oh, and the Animal!

I've attended many matches over the years. Is there any better bang for your buck? The TV coverage may be the best continuing reality tv show there has ever been, certainly more entertaining than Big Brother 16 or whatever they are up to this summer.

Oh, by the way, I turned 54 last month! I'm the mother of 3 kids who were big fans when they were little.
They've moved on to the NFL, baseball, etc. I have to keep reminding them, don't forget who you cut your sports watching teeth on, kids...the WWF!

So, do you remember if you got any responses or not? If not, I'd say you have your share of pen pals reading this blog every day.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I did get several. I had one pen pal from Providence, R.I., for several years, and another from Philadelphia. There were a few others that I didn't correspond with as regularly.

Kevin, you don't need to prove that you were into wrestling since you were a toddler. =P I think everybody knows it. Still I would like to mention, you look really adorable in that pic.


Inside Wrestling was the best! It was my way before cable tv to look at other "territories," and when someone new came to the WWWF, I would look back at Inside Wrestling to see where they had come from.

Wow!!! I think my older brother might have a copy of that issue. He collected them and I remember the pen pals section. Talk about a trip down amnesia lane.

I used to run to the Farm Store on South Marlyn Avenue i nthe 80's each week for the 3 wrestling magz they had, just hoping the new one was in.

Have to agree with Lorenzo on a couple of points. Cameras in the arena do mean something. At the July, '85 card at the Baltimore Arena, cameras were there. Sure enough Tito Santana beat Greg Valentine in a steel cage to take the I-C title. And sadly Monday nights no longer wind up for me at 11 pm. I'm usually long gone by then. WWE really needs new and interesting characters including managers. But we know that era is history.

Haha great one!

Holy moley!

I lived on Lawrence Rd too! Didn't know you were a Dundalkian!

Yeah, I'd buy Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, and PWI the old Edwards and Anthony's on Dundalk Avenue and O'Donnell Street. I'd buy some of the other ones, too, but I always made sure to buy the Apter mags. LOL...remember the "apartment house wrestling"?

I met Apter...the night Superstar beat Bruno for the belt at the Civic Center. The big scaffold with the camera set up...and Apter...there kinda clued you in that something big was gonna happen. He said that at that time, his favorite story...and the one where he'd thought he'd done his best work...was on the Mike McCord plane crash (forgot who else was in that particular crash...they, unfortunately, all kinda meld together for me). But he said that everyone asked him about when he "took" Stan Stasiak's Heart obviously ridiculously posed photos. I'll admit it, I asked him about the Heart Punch too...LOL.

I saw one of these pen pal ads from the old Apter mags a few years ago that featured a young man named "Eddie Gilbert" who liked the "bad guys". Yep,it was THAT Eddie Gilbert!

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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