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CHAIRMAN MULQUEEN TAKES ISSUE WITH MAT METHODS
(By Fred Jackson, Toronto ON Daily Star, September 23, 1938)
"When sport gets into a position where they have to use hooded contestants, then it is getting pretty low," said P.J. Mulqueen, chairman of the Ontario Athletic Commission during an interview regarding last night's wrestling fiasco at Maple Leaf Gardens.
"The Canadian public, as you know, have never been very strong for 'hooded stuff' of any kind. When a competitor refuses to leave the ring and incites the crowd to rioting, then it is time that officials should step in and stop it. That's what I endeavored to do last night," said the chairman.
Mr. Mulqueen declared that the promoters had made a definite agreement with the commission to modify some of the more violent forms of the wrestling game. "Mr. John Corcoran has not carried out the agreement with the commission, made through me as chairman.
"As long as I am a member of the O.A.C., I will not tolerate the sort of rowdyism that was so evident last night. There is something in the criminal code that says a person can be prosecuted when he incites the people to riot. This Masked Marvel, in all of his performances, has worked on the principle of arousing the public's feelings to the rioting stage," he said.
"Last night there was a young riot," continued Mr. Mulqueen. "It took the whole powers of the policeman present and all the ushers at the Gardens to stop it. That's a fine state of affairs for a sports program. Even contestants who were not performing at the moment tried to stop or check the aroused fans. And after this the Masked Marvel and his manager again conducted themselves in such a manner as to start further rioting.
"Mayes McLain, one of the wrestlers, made a running kick from one side of the ring to the other, the kick being aimed at the Masked Marvel's manager. I know it was never intended to land, but the fans didn't know that. In last night's show there was kicking, biting and gouging. Now if that comes under the heading of sport, I don't know the game after all these years."
Mr. Mulqueen claimed that the promoters have continually promised to clean things up in the wrestling game. "Either they are not sincere in their promises or they haven't the authority," he said. "I realize it is generally supposed that the authority in wrestling is vested in Boston headquarters. I don't know anything about this personally. I have no comment to make over any alleged overruling of my decision at this time."
The chairman stated that the sport can stand a housecleaning and intimated that he was going to try to wield a vigorous broom as long as he was a member of the Ontario Athletic Commission. At the time of writing he had not talked to Mr. Farr, commission member, who was in Weston last night, or to Vice-Chairman Conacher, who was in London.
From his hotel room in London, Lionel Conacher, vice-chairman of the Ontario Athletic Commission, admitted that he and Commissioner Farr had overridden Mr. Mulqueen's decision that the show be stopped. "Neither Mr. Farr nor myself were preswent," said Conacher. "But we held a telephone meeting."
Asked if he had personally spoken to Mr. Farr by telephone, Conacher said no, but that a friend of his had spoken to Farr and then spoken to him by telephone regarding the affair. He wouldn't publicize the name of the friend who had been the communicating link between himself and Mr. Farr.
"I don't think the public should suffer," said Conacher. "If wrestling is going to be stopped it shouldn't be stopped in the middle when the public will suffer who paid good money to see that show. The commission should meet and decide previous to the show going on whether it should be held or not. This terrifice manslaughter and all these terrible things that go on in wrestling ... why, I happen to have done a bit of it myself. These fellows not only wrestle every night in the week, but travel hundereds of miles every week of the year!
"The Ontario Athletic Commission doesn't recognize bouts as anything but exhibitions," Mr. Conacher explained. "If the public doesn't enjoy going to them they wouldn't be there. The wrestlers don't bite, they don't kick and they don't do a lot of things."
Mr. Farr, of Weston, the third member of this wrestling portion of the O.A.C., could not be reached at Weston this morning. "He is out of town," the operator there informed us.
"If there was anything wrong with last night's show, then I'm not aware of it," Jack Corcoran said today.
"I simply gave the public the show they paid to see. There was nothing happened in the bout that hasn't happened here a hundred times before.
"As a matter of fact," the promoter pointed out, "I thought the bout was mild by comparison with a few others held in the past."
Corcoran further stated that someone was trying to "put him on the spot."
"The first I knew of Mr. Mulqueen's action was when the wrestlers and referee were told not to continue," Corcoran continued.
"Then," he said, "I asked Mr. Mulqueen the reason for his move. He replied, 'I don't like the thing -- I don't like it. It's got to stop.'
"What about the public?" Corcoran claims he pursued. "Oh, send them home," the commissioner was reported to have replied.
"With that," Corcoran told The Star, "I told him I was going to give the fans a full show and he couldn't stop me. I called Commissioners Farr and Conacher by long-distance telephone and they informed me to proceed with the show. They told me whether I was right or wrong about the nature of the show, they would take up the matter at their next meeting. They did tell me, however, to get another referee. Tommy McClure volunteered to substitute.
"I've been promoting professional sport in Toronto for over 20 years and I didn't want a black eye at this stage of the game. That's just what would have happened in the event I hadn't finished what I started.
"The public," Corcoran said, "proved they wanted to see the rest of the match. Hardly a person left the rink when they heard the bout had been called off. They waited for the resumption of the match."