A mean, viscous giant in the ring, he once ripped a man’s ear off of his head. He was also a talented mat wrestler who would later turn his life towards training younger performers.
Real Name: Wladek Kowalski
Stats: 6′ 7″ 275 lbs.
Born: October 13, 1926
By Steve Slagle
During the “Golden Age” of pro wrestling, immediately following World War II, there were many famous wrestling heroes and villains that were known all across the country. Not just by wrestling fans, but also by the general public — due mainly to the fact that wrestling was an enormous part of the early development of television. In fact, at a time when a broadcast day for the networks lasted less than 12 hours, there was still hour after hour of professional wrestling featured on the new entertainment medium. Wrestling was experiencing a huge boom in popularity, and certain names stuck out in the minds of wrestling fans and the public at large.
Killer Kowalski was perhaps one of the most famous of them all…
The 6’7″, nearly 300-pound wrecking machine stood heads above his competition, literally, and was feared as one of the meanest, most vicious and unrelenting villains the sport had ever known. Wladek “Killer” Kowalski’s catchy moniker was known throughout the country soon after he made his way into the sport in the years after World War II, and he quickly became one of “TV wrestling’s” (as it was sometimes called) biggest attractions.
One of his earliest titles was the prestigious N.W.A. Texas Heavyweight title, which he won on August 22,1950 when he defeated then-superstar, and all-time legend, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in Dallas,TX. On a roll, he also won the Texas Tag Team title later the same year. In 1951 he won the Central States Heavyweight title, defeating “Whipper” Bill Longson, and instantly ruled the Midwest as a result.
But The Killer, who was incredibly skilled and agile for such a huge man, was also feared in the tag team ranks. He formed a highly successful (and virtually undefeatable) tag team with the nearly equally huge 6’5 270lb. German powerhouse Hans Herman, and the duo was among the tag team elite (winning the NWA Pacific Coast Tag title in 1951, among other championships) during the early 1950’s.
But “Killer” Kowalski had some of his greatest success during the 1950’s in Montreal, and became a genuine Canadian superstar — hated like none other! He wore the AWA/IWA (Montreal) World Heavyweight championship 8 times between 1952-1962, defeating wrestlers the caliber of Verne Gagne, Eduard Carpentier, Don Leo Jonathon, Pat O`Conner, and others for Canada’s top championship.
With his reputation for being perhaps the most vicious man in wrestling established throughout The Great White North, Kowalski ventured back to America…this time to New York City and the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Once there, he established himself as the most violent wrestler on the east coast, and gave every “fan favorite” wrestler, including Bruno Sammartino, some of the most brutal beatings east coast fans had ever seen. Along with the then-hated Gorilla Monsoon, he won the W.W.W.F. United States Tag Team title in 1963 in Washington, D.C.
After pounding his way up and down the eastern seaboard, Kowalski traveled to the N.W.A.’s Hawaiian territory and won the promotion’s version of the U.S. Heavyweight title in 1965.
After his run in Hawaii, The Killer headed back to the wrestling hotbed of Texas, and in 1970 he won the Texas Brass Knuckles championship. He also traveled to California, winning the prestigious N.W.A. America’s Heavyweight title by defeating Los Angeles wrestling legend John Tolos on January 31,1972. He would also go on to win the N.W.A. America’s Tag Team title with Kinji Shibuya. As the 1970’s ended so did Kowalski’s career in the ring. But Kolawski still had more to give to the sport of wrestling…
After retiring from competition, Kowalski concentrated on working with various independent promotions and more specifically, training new wrestlers and thus continuing to contribute to the sport he loves so much. Some of his protégé’s include Luna Vachon, Hunter Hurst Helmsley, and Chyna, among many others.
Kowalski, who after nearly 50 years in the business is one of the most knowledgeable trainers the sport has known, continues to be involved in wrestling to this day. In 1996, he was inducted into the WWF’s Hall of Fame. We at The Ring Chronicle also acknowledge the impact and credit deserved by this asset to the sport and all-time great by inducting “Killer” Kowalski into T.R.C.’s Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame…