The History of Pro-Wrestling in Hawaii
Also in 1962, HARRY FUJIWARA (MR. FUJI) made his professional
wrestling start. Other stars appearing in 1962 were LORD BLEARS who
settled in Hawaii and went on to do the TV announcing for the 50TH STATE
BIG TIME WRESTLING TV show which continued to air every Saturday on
From 1962 through 1963 Professional Wrestling under ED FRANCIS continued
to grow with sellout crowds common at the CIVIC AUDITORIUM. Then 1964
brought major changes to Wrestling in Hawaii with the opening of the
HONOLULU INTERNATIONAL CENTER that year which could seat 8,700 fans for
boxing and wrestling.
The HONOLULU INTERNATIONAL CENTER was owned by the City Of Honolulu
and did not honor the territorial rights to promote wrestling in Hawaii by
FRANCIS. Instead the City would accept bids to promote wrestling at the
new arena. FRANCIS was surprised that he was outbid by a DALLAS WESTERN
of ALOHA PROMOTIONS to do wrestling shows at the new arena.
How was this done? WESTERN, seeing that Hawaii was big wrestling town,
started airing a 1 hour Wrestling TV show from San Francisco area called BIG
TIME WRESTLING which featured big name wrestling stars such as RAY STEVENS,
EDWARD CARPENTER, KENJI SHIBUYA, PEPPER GOMEZ and other top name stars.
DALLAS WESTERN put on his first Wrestling Show at the HONOLULU
INTERNATIONAL CENTER on Tuesday July 28, 1964 featuring a Heavyweight
Championship of the United States with Champion RAY STEVENS defending his
title against EDWARD CARPENTER, followed by five other matches.
ED FRANCIS seeing this, did not back down from WESTERN 's first card
that night and put on a wrestling card that same night featuring a
18 MAN TEXAS BATTLE ROYAL with such stars as GENE KINISKI, TOSH TOGO
LUTHER LINDSAY, MR. MOTO, CURTIS IAUKEA and others.
What happened that night on JULY 28, 1964 was wrestling shows at the
Honolulu International Center and Civic drew a combined crowd of 14,000,
with 8,700 turning out at the new arena and a capacity crowd
of 5,300 watching the "competition" show at the Civic. Even more amazing
was that the following night July 29th, FRANCIS put on another card at the
Civic featuring a United Stated Championship match Between CURTIS IAUKEA
and LUTHER LINDSAY resulting in another sellout at the Civic.
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One month later, on August 25th the two promoters again went
head-to-head with wrestling cards at the Honolulu International Center
and Civic Auditorium on the same night. Also in the months of September
through December 1964 both promoters continued to put on rival cards
on the same night with near sell-out crowds at both arenas.
As DALLAS WESTERN continued to promote his monthly cards at the
new arena his wrestling show was known as NATIONAL ALL WRESTLING which
aired weekly on KONA-TV channel 2. Meanwhile the sellout crowds allowed
FRANCIS to expand his tv wrestling shows when channel 4 added
WRESTLING FROM THE CIVIC which aired on Sunday afternoons. The shows
were taped wrestling matches from the civic with locker room interviews
starting in the fall of 1964.
Also in the fall of 1964, FRANCIS brought in, direct from MADISON
SQUARE GARDEN, HANDSOME JOHNNY BAREND who became a top head-liner.
BAREND started feuding with the likes of NICK BOCKWINKEL and winning the
HAWAIIAN CHAMPIONSHIP from NEFF MAIAVA. HANDSOME JOHHNY BAREND's stay in
Hawaii lasted until December 4th of 1964 after wrestling to a "no contest"
in a Texas Death Match with CURTIS IAUKEA.
Going into 1965, DALLAS WESTERN promotion folded due to a law-suit
concerning payment to the talent agency he used to fly in wrestlers
from the west coast for his monthly wrestling cards at the Honolulu
This lawsuit and the cost of flying in wrestlers every month and
smaller crowds ended two promoters operating in Hawaii. In the end Francis
Finally on March 19, 1965 ED FRANCIS put his first wrestling card at
the Honolulu International Center with a main event featuring GIANT BABA
vs CURTIS IAUKEA.
Ed Francis' first HIC card
One month later FRANCIS presented another card featuring
World Champion LOU THESZ defending his World Title against HARD BOILED
HAGGERTY. After the April card, FRANCIS did not promote wrestling again
at the Honolulu International Center until July 1965.
Go on to History, page 3