A Wrestling History Mystery: The Curious Case of Mr. Szabo


The latest episode of my Wrestling History Mysteries podcast is part 1 of a multi-part series discussing my quest to identify a masked wrestler named Mr. Szabo that wrestled for Leroy McGuirk in early 1963, getting a huge push as a heel, and then disappearing after suffering an injury in a match with Lou Thesz.
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This era of the McGuirk territory is fairly undocumented on historical wrestling sites. Through my work the last couple of years in accumulating house show records from the territory, I've put together a fairly clear picture of the 'workings' of the territory. Below, I list all the known matches of this Mr. Szabo during this 2-month run.

2/4/63 Tulsa, OK
Mr Szabo defeated Jack Donovan. Szabo was billed as a "highly rated masked wrestler from New York". It's also said that "he can only get matches with some of the leading grapplers by concealing his real identity."

2/5/63 Little Rock, AR
Mr Szabo beat Oni Wiki Wiki with "a submission leglock" and won a battle royal, eliminating Joe McCarthy with assistance from Sputnik Monroe.

2/6/63 Fort Smith, AR
Mr Szabo beat Oni Wiki, winning the third fall (he had been disqualified in the first) after delivering three straight piledrivers to Wiki Wiki and rendering him unable to continue. The newspaper reports that Szabo "has cast himself in the same lot as the other rough-and-tumble wrestlers."

2/7/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo vs Frankie Cain. (results unavailable)

2/8/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Mr Szabo defeated Jerry London.

2/11/63 Tulsa, OK
Mr Szabo defeated Jerry Miller "in straight falls".

2/12/63 Little Rock, AR
Mr Szabo "used a piledriver with devastating results to turn back" Joe McCarthy. (MAIN EVENT)

2/13/63 Fort Smith, AR
Mr Szabo beat Frankie Cain in two falls. "Szabo used pile-drivers to take both falls."

2/14/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo & Great Bolo (Al Lovelock) & Sputnik Monroe vs Mike Clancy & Red McKim & Silento Rodriguez, plus a one-fall preliminary match against Clancy. (results unavailable)

2/15/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Mr Szabo defeated Jack Donovan.

2/18/63 Tulsa, OK
Mr Szabo beat Mike Clancy. A newspaper article promoting the card said that Szabo "could really move into the forefront of contenders for Danny Hodge's championship if he downs Clancy". (MAIN EVENT)

2/19/63 Little Rock, AR
Mike Clancy bet Mr Szabo by disqualification after Great Bolo, acting as Szabo's second, entered the ring. At that point "a hassle arose", Szabo knocked referee Leo Voss out of the ring, and Szabo and Bolo attacked Clancy. (MAIN EVENT)

2/20/63 Springfield, MO
Mr Szabo, "a masked wrestler who has been mowing them down in eastern mat circles," beat Pedro Zapata in two straight falls, winning both with a pile driver.

2/21/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo & Great Bolo beat Mike Clancy & Red McKim. (MAIN EVENT)
Szabo also wrestled a one-fall preliminary match against either Clancy or McKim (results unavailable)

2/22/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Mr Szabo beat Red McKim.

2/25/63 Tulsa, OK
Mr Szabo defeated Red McKim 2 falls to 1 in a match where "the victor will be first in line for a bout with newly crowned heavyweight king, Lou Thesz." (MAIN EVENT)

2/26/63 Little Rock, AR
Bill Watts & Mike Clancy beat Mr Szabo & Great Bolo. (MAIN EVENT)
Clancy also beat Mr Szabo in a one-fall preliminary match.

2/27/63 Springfield, MO
Bill Watts & Red McKim beat Mr Szabo & Great Bolo by reverse decision. Szabo originally had pinned McKim to win the third fall, but the decision was reversed after Szabo & Bolo double teamed Watts after the match was over. (MAIN EVENT)

2/28/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo vs Jerry London. (results unavailable)

3/1/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Mr Szabo beat Mike Clancy. (MAIN EVENT)

3/2/63 Joplin, MO
Mr Szabo (billed as "undefeated masked grappler making Joplin debut") beat Silento Rodriguez. Rodriguez won the first fall, then Szabo evened things up in the second with "a leg grapevine" (reported to have "nearly incapacitated" Rodriguez), and won the third fall in just 1:38 with a "half Boston crab."

3/4/63 Tulsa, OK
Mr Szabo beat Red McKim. In promoting this card, it was said that last week's victory came via Szabo's "vicious pile driver." (MAIN EVENT)

3/5/63 Little Rock, AR
Mr Szabo beat Jerry London "when London was unable to continue after suffering a battering from the masked man."

3/7/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo vs Rocky Smith. (results unavailable)

3/8/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Mr Szabo, billed as "smooth working and very tough", defeated Baby Blimp (George Harris).

3/9/63 Joplin, MO
Mr Szabo, billed as "the most likely wrestler to win an unpopularity contest", beat Jerry London. Szabo won the first fall after "a series of shattering piledrivers". London had to be carried to the dressing room by Bill Watts, who had come to the ring to try and stop Szabo from "kicking the prostate London", who  "couldn't be revived in time to come out for the second fall".

3/11/63 Tulsa, OK
NWA World Heavyweight champion Lou Thesz beat Mr Szabo 2 falls to 1, winning the third fall by disqualification. Prior to the card, a newspaper article said that Szabo "has looked impressive in polishing off five victims with his spinning toe holds and piledrivers." (MAIN EVENT)
This was the final night of a week-long stay in the territory for Thesz; he had faced Danny Hodge in every match except this one.

3/12/63 Little Rock, AR
Mr Szabo & Great Bolo beat Bill Watts & Mike Clancy in a 3 out of 5 falls match. Szabo, billed as "a thinking man's wrestler", won the fifth fall by pinning Clancy. (MAIN EVENT)
An article in the newspaper after the card mentioned that wrestling "has been drawing well here for the last several months" and mostly running "just two or three hundred short of capacity" (capacity would have been around 3,000 at the time), including a sellout the previous week for Thesz defending the World Heavyweight title against Hodge.

3/13/63 Springfield, MO
Mr Szabo (billed as "surprisingly versatile and can wrestle with the best of them") & Great Bolo beat Bill Watts & Mike Clancy in a 3 out of 5 falls match, with Szabo pinning Clancy in the fifth fall. (MAIN EVENT)

3/14/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo (billed as "fast and muscular" and wearing a black mask) vs Torbellino Blanco. (results unavailable)

3/15/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Mr Szabo beat Mike Clancy. (MAIN EVENT)

3/16/63 Joplin, MO
Bill Watts & Joe McCarthy & Silento Rodriguez beat Mr Szabo & Jack Donovan & PY Chung (Tojo Yamamoto). Szabo had scored the first fall over McCarthy after a spinning toe hold and McCarthy evened things up in the second fall by making Szabo submit with his "Tiger Tail twist hold". (MAIN EVENT)
In a one-fall preliminary bout, Watts beat Szabo by disqualification after Szabo "stomped Watts in the throat with his knee."

3/18/63 Tulsa, OK
Mr Szabo & Great Bolo beat Bill Watts & Mike Clancy. (MAIN EVENT)
A newspaper article promoting the event says that Szabo "is demanding another shot at world's heavyweight champion Lou Thesz after giving the titleholder a tough battle last week". Attendance for the card, which was a benefit show for the Cerebral Palsy Association, was reported as 3,400.

3/19/63 Little Rock, AR
Mr Szabo beat Mike Clancy when Clancy could not continue after Szabo gave him a piledriver. It was said that Clancy "was carried from the ring still unconscious" after the decision was rendered. (MAIN EVENT)

3/20/63 Springfield, MO
Mr Szabo (billed as "durable and smooth-working") beat Mike Clancy 2 falls to 1, winning the third fall with a "jackknife hold"; fans at ringside clamored that he "had his foot on the ropes to get leverage for the final fall." (MAIN EVENT)

3/21/63 Wichita Falls, TX
Mr Szabo was advertised to participate in a battle royal; singles matches would occur after the battle royal, with order of elimination determine the matchups. (results unavailable)
It was reported in the newspaper that "a Vernon man, Jim We[h]ba, who is well known for his physical prowess" has challenged P.Y. Chung or Szabo to a match." Wehba is better known to wrestling fans as Scandor Akbar.

3/22/63 Oklahoma City, OK
Bill Watts & Mike Clancy & Tiny (Grizzly) Smith beat Mr Szabo & Great Bolo & PY Chung. (MAIN EVENT)
In a one-fall preliminary match, Clancy beat Szabo.

3/23/63 Joplin, MO
Mr Szabo was advertised to team with Great Bolo vs Bill Watts & Mike Clancy in the main event. Results from the show state that PY Chung subbed for Szabo, who was "removed from the card due to illness".

3/25/63 Tulsa, OK
NWA World Heavyweight champion Lou Thesz beat Mr. Szabo (both men were referred to as "crafty and lightning fast")  when Szabo "broke his hand and could not continue in the third fall" in a match with Bill Watts advertised as special referee. (MAIN EVENT)
This was a "stand-alone" match for Thesz in the territory. Based on various sources, it appears that Thesz was off for eight days (3/17-3/24), then wrestled here followed by matches in Indiana and Ohio (plus Friday night in Atlanta).

Szabo had been advertised for a few shows later in the week, with the ads running in local newspapers starting over the weekend. Szabo did not appear on any of these cards. In Little Rock he had been advertised in the main event for 3/26, teaming with Great Bolo to face The Scufflin' Hillbilles. In Springfield he had been advertised for a main event Texas rules match with Clancy on 3/27. The newspaper reported after the show that Szabo "suffered a broken hand in a Monday night bout at Tulsa with Lou Thesz." In Wichita Falls he was advertised in a main event tag match teaming with Great Bolo against Bill Watts & Joe McCarthy.

So just who was this masked man? In future episodes of the Wrestling History Mysteries podcast, coming out the second Thursday of each month for the next few months, we will discuss the prime suspects, as well as examine the process by which these suspects came about. We will list the pros and cons of each suspect, giving you first-hand insight into my research methods. Along the way, some of professional wrestling's most well-respected historians are brought into the fray, as are the only two wrestlers still alive that shared a ring with this Mr Szabo in early 1963. Maybe, just maybe, when all is said and done, I will be able to solve a WRESTLING HISTORY MYSTERY!!

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