Tag Archives: Gene Kiniski

Gene Kiniski was Canada’s…………

One day I was sitting in a pub listening to the guy next to me tell his buddy about how 1950s/60s wrestling bad guy Gene Kiniski used to bill himself as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete.”

I thought that was great, so I tracked down Kiniski in Point Roberts, Wash. and gave him a call. I thought it would be good for the little newspaper column I had back then.

He answered the phone by saying, in a loud and gruff voice,  “CANADA’S GREATEST ATHLETE!”

Yes he did. It was awesome.

He was also a terrific guy on the phone, full of fun and laughter, and he went on about his family, his son’s restaurant in Point Roberts, his contentment now.

Just a nice, sincere fellow who had also played pro football for the Edmonton Eskimos before his wrestling career had begun, and one who had adopted the villain role and “Canada’s Greatest Athlete” shtick by bashing bashing heads, throwing chairs out of rings, and pissing wrestling fans off, all as a way of supporting his family.

For every saintly Whipper Billy Watson, there had to be a Gene Kiniski to stomp and growl.

In 2010 we lost this colourful character and I don’t know about Canada’s Greatest Athlete, but there’s a good chance he was Canada’s Nicest Athlete.

He asked me to send him a clipping of the column, which I did, and he sent me these in return. I never made it down to see him, and I regret it.

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Mr. Kiniski

I used to have a weekly column in the Powell River Peak and I’d write about all kinds of things. Kind of like here.

One day I was sitting in the pub listening to the guy next to me talk about how 1950s/60s wrestling bad guy Gene Kiniski used to bill himself as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete.” I thought that was great, and figuring it might make a fun column, I somehow tracked down Kiniski’s phone number and gave him a call.

He answered the phone as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete.” Yes he did. It was awesome.

He was also a terrific guy on the phone, full of fun and laughter, and seemed just a nice, humble fellow, one who had adopted the villain and “Canada’s Greatest Athlete” schtick a long time ago when he was bashing heads, throwing chairs out of rings, and pissing fans off as a way of supporting his family.

For every saintly Whipper Billy Watson, there had to be a Gene Kiniski to stomp and growl.

He asked me to send a clipping of the column, which I did, and he sent these back.

Gene Kiniski died in 2010. Three years ago we lost Canada’s Greatest Athlete.

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There’s Only One “Canada’s Greatest Athlete”

A bunch of us were sitting at a bar one day, about ten years ago, talking about who we thought Canada’s all-time greatest athlete was, and the usual suspects came up – Wayne Gretzky, Lionel Conacher, Rocket, Howe, Terry Fox, Bobby Orr and the likes, and one of the guys laughingly piped up that he could remember when Gene Kiniski, one of the nations’ most colourful wrestlers of the 1950’s and 60’s, used to bill himself as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete.”

We chuckled and ordered more beer.

At the time I was writing a regular column for a newspaper and decided from that barroom chat that Gene Kiniski would make a great story. So I tracked him down and gave him a call.

He answered the phone as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete.”

And as it turned out, Gene Kiniski was one of the nicest and funniest guys, and he made our phone call a barrel of laughs. I came away a Gene Kiniski fan. Later on I mailed him the column I wrote and he sent back a great picture and an invitation to join him at his son’s restaurant in Point Roberts. 

I never managed to make it, and sadly, the great man passed away just last April at the age of 81.

Maybe I was afraid he’d put me in an anaconda vice or thumb choke hold. But I sure regret now not going.

In my book, Gene Kiniski was and is Canada’s Greatest Athlete.

Clara Hughes!

Canada’s Clara Hughes zoomed to a bronze medal in women’s 5000 metre speedskating today, and she said in her interview, “thank you to this amazing crowd, once again you gave me wings.”

She was also asked in a TV interview if she was Canada’s greatest athlete and I agree with what Sportsnet’s Don Taylor said when he said everybody knows that Gene Kiniski is Canada’s greatest athlete.

Gene Kiniski was a popular wrestler in Canada in the 1950’s and ’60’s. His schtick would be to tell everyone he was Canada’s Greatest athlete. It was funny. And several years ago when I was writing a column for the local newspaper, I phoned Gene Kinisky to chat. Thirty years after he’d stopped wrestling.

“He answered the phone by saying, “Canada’s Greatest Athlete.”

And a big thumbs up to Clara!