Weight: 280 lbs
From: Windsor, Ont., Canada
Years in WWE: 1957-58; 1962-64; 1968-70; 1974-77
Finishing Maneuver: Stomach Claw
Time for another history lesson, ladies and gentlemen. This week we look at the legend of one of the baddest men to ever wrestle, Killer Kowalski.
Wladek Kowalski was born in Windsor, Ont., Canada. The Kowalski family would eventually move to Detroit, Mich., where Kowalski would go to work in an automobile factory with his father.
However, Kowalski wanted more. As wrestling was going through the TV renaissance, Kowalski decided to take advantage of his size and pursue a career as a professional wrestler.
He would wrestler in the Texas, Kansas City and even the Montreal promotions.
Killer Kowalski wasn't always known for being a bad guy. In fact, when he first started, he was a face wrestler in the territories where he would wrestle, known as Tarzan Kowalski.
How did such a man build a reputation so widely known that even people who don't watch wrestling have heard of him?
It would happen when Kowalski was wrestling up in the Montreal promotion. He was going against Yukon Eric, and when Kowalski dropped his knee on Eric's head, he ripped off the wrestler’s cauliflower ear.
Eddie Quinn, a promoter in the area, wanted Kowalski to go to Yukon's house and apologize to him, but when he saw the wrestler covered in bandages, the only thing he could do was laugh. Once the Montreal press found out about the incident, Killer Kowalski was born.
Kowalski was an instant draw for fans. Not only did he seem terrifying in the ring, he would also give fearsome interviews.
He would remain in the Montreal territory until 1957, when he would travel to the Northeast and work for Vince McMahon Sr. He would leave, but eventually return in 1962 where he would face Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Championship at Madison Square Garden.
Kowalski would also team with Gorilla Monsoon and create one of the most fearsome tag teams ever known. He would face off against Bruno Sammartino twice in two main events at Madison Square Garden. Both matches would yield no winner.
By the time Kowalski was 50 in 1974, he made one last run for the Heavyweight Championship, this time losing to Sammartino.
When Kowalski finally retired in 1977, he would open a wrestling school and begin training young wrestlers. Some of the prospects Kowalski trained were Big John Studd, A-Train, Chyna and even Triple H.
Kowalski died at the age of 81 on August 30, 2008. Without a doubt he will be remembered as one of wrestling's greatest. Not only was he a master at playing the heel character, he would go on to train some of the best to ever step foot in a WWE ring.
More about Kowalski can be found in the book WWE Legends.