Name: Len Rositano

PWHF New York State Award, 2004

Len Rossi

Len Rositano, better known in the wrestling world as Len Rossi, was born in Utica, New York and was the son of immigrant parents. As a youth growing up in Utica, Len took advantage of community resources and started wrestling at the Utica YMCA at the age of 14 and competed in amateur wrestling matches against other Y teams. He was so successful that in 1945 Len joined the ranks of professional wrestling in a semi-professional capacity. He also boxed in exhibition matches for fraternal organizations such as the local Elks Lodge, Moose Lodges, etc.. As he relates, "the payoffs weren't that great - our payoff was the money that was thrown into the ring by the audience!".

A tour of duty in the United States Army was next for Len and during this time his love for competitive sports continued. He taught unarmed self defense classes to fellow soldiers.

In 1950, Len Rositano became Len Rossi and he joined the ranks of professional wrestling. He had his first professional wrestling match while working for Ed Don George in Saratoga, New York. During the 1950s, Len traveled the roads of the wrestling territories including Boston, Spokane, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Oklahoma.

It was during 1958 that Len Rossi appeared in the Tennessee wrestling territory for what was to have been a two week shot. However, fate intervened - New York lost a native son and Len became a Tennessean!!

In late 1972, tragedy struck and Len was injured in an automobile accident. His injuries were severe enough that he was forced to retire from active wrestling competition. As a result of this accident, Len studied natural healing and after a four year period of studying received his Doctor of Naturopathy degree. Today he owns and operates Len Rossi's Health Foods and Care Center in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Not only was Len a noted member of our profession, but Len's son, the late Joey Rossi, followed in his father's footsteps and entered the ranks. On numerous occasions, prior to Len's accident, they were able to work in father/son tag team matches. In 1977 this father/son tag team wrestled against another father/son tag team - Angelo and Lanny Poffo in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Joey Rossi passed away on November 28, 2003 after a long battle with lung cancer.

Len has many stories of his illustrious career but one that stands out was from Jackson, Tennessee with his long time partner, the late Tex Riley. That evening the Rossi/Riley tag team match was against brothers Al and Don Greene. It was a well known fact that Tex enjoyed "adult beverages" and apparently this evening had sipped a few and was suffering from the consequences. Len went to his corner to make a much needed tag and - surprise, surprise - while there had been no "sleeper hold" applied during the course of the wrestling match, Tex was in his corner, propped against the ropes, sound asleep!! Needless to say, Len finished the match as a solo!!

During Len's wrestling career his many highlights included being the holder of the North American Jr. Heavyweight title, won in North Bay, Ontario; holder of the NWA Jr. Heavyweight title; with the late Tex Riley, holder of the World Tag Team title; wrestling as a father/son tag team; and being one of the first to help integrate wrestling in the south by teaming with wrestler Bearcat Brown.

Len Rossi is being honored as a recipient of the 2003 New York State Award by the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Schenectady, New York but he has also been honored by his peers in the Gulf Coast Wrestling Association with the presentation of a Pioneer Award

In his private life Len has received recognition for civic activities. He gives of his time to the community by speaking about nutrition and healthy life styles to clubs, organizations and schools. He has appeared on call-in radio and televisions programs where he provides answers to caller questions. He also writes a health oriented column for his local bi-weekly newspaper on a volunteer basis.

Len has been honored with a plaque presented by 1982 Nashville Mayor Richard Fulton in appreciation for his "contributions to the field of athletics, promotion of good sportsmanship and continued support of sound nutrition benefiting all residents of Nashville"; an award from the Brentwood (Tennessee) Chamber of Commerce; "Certificate of Appreciation" from the National Nutritional Foods Association, a national trade organization for health food retailers and recognition from the National Instititute of Nutritional Education for epitomizing what Certified Nutritionists are and for what they can do, especially when challenged.

Len Rositano, native New Yorker, is a true example of what can be achieved when your mind is set to be a winner - accomplishments in his professional life and private life set him as an example to us all. The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is pleased to honor Len Rositano - Len Rossi - with a 2004 New York State Award.

- Anne and Bill Bowman



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