Name: Walter Kowalski
Year Inducted: 2003
Induction Category: Television Era
As world renowned, as respected, and as successful within the wrestling industry that Walter Kowalski is, there has been none more compassionate, caring, trusting, gentlemanly to all, as he.
Introduced to professional wrestling while working out in Hamtramck, Michigan's YMCA, it was there that wrestling legend Ed "Strangler" Lewis took a liking to the Polish Powerhouse and took him under his wing. A native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, at six feet seven inches, 265 Ibs., Kowalski had superstardom mapped out for him from day one in the ring. His travels took him around the globe. Australia remains Kowalski's favorite stop. A former engineer for Ford Motor Company, Kowalski seemed to always be in main events. His original ring moniker was Tarzan Kowalski.
Perhaps the Killer's two most memorable trips to the square circle came in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. On November 21, 1962 Kowalski opposed then NWA Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Buddy Rogers in a two-out-of-three falls classic in the Forum. The champ was pinned by Kowalski after one fall. Rogers couldn't finish the match as he was rushed to Montreal's General Hospital diagnosed with a fractured right ankle. The NWA didn't recognize a title change mainly because the contest was signed as best-of-three falls.
During a singles match against Alaska's Yukon Eric (Eric Holmback) in the same Forum, when coming off the top turnbuckle, Kowalski's right knee acted as scissors sheering across his opponent's badly cauliflowered ear. The ear was knocked off.
A fan of classical music and an avid photographer, Kowalski opened a suburban Boston wrestling school shortly after retiring from the ring full-time in 1977. Chyna, Perry Saturn, Triple-H, and the late Big John Studd are all former pupils of the "Killer."
At times during his career he was managed by The Grand Wizard and Bobby Davis. Kowalski saw regular ring duty opposite Bruno Sammartino, Andre the Giant, Lou Thesz, Antonino Rocca, and Nature Boy Buddy Rogers.
Capturing the WWWF tag title on May 11,1976 from Tony Parisi and Louis Cerdan, Kowalski partnered with Big John Studd as the hooded Executioners managed by Captain Lou Albano. Kowalski authored KILLER PICS as well as an accompanying videotape recalling his travels and the wrestling personalities and everyday people with which he came in contact.
- by Don Laible
Walter Kowalski passed away on August 30, 2008, at the age of 81.