Walter "Killer" Kowalski passes away

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August 30, 2008

WWE is saddened by the passing of one of wrestling's most successful and revered stars, WWE Hall of Famer Walter "Killer" Kowalski. He was 81.

Watch: Killer Kowalski in action | Photos

Kowalski began his career in sports-entertainment in 1947, and wrestled extensively throughout the world for 30 years.

A devout vegetarian, Kowalski stood taller than most of his opponents in the ring. And, once the bell rang, he had a ruthless and relentless style that mentally helped him reel in victory after victory. He generally finished off his opponents with his signature Iron Claw.

Infamously known as the man who ripped off part of Yukon Eric's ear during a 1954 match held in Montreal, his prowess within the squared-circle ensured that his opponents be at the top of their games.

Kowalski competed in WWE rings during the 1960s and '70s, and he and WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon garnered the United States Tag Team Championship in 1963. But, of even more renown, Kowalski was regarded as the toughest challenger to then-WWE Champion Bruno Sammartino, selling out arena after arena up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

During the early 1970s, Kowalski trained a big, strapping individual, who was then known as Chuck O' Connor. In 1976, the teacher-student combination of Kowalski and O'Connor attired themselves in black masks and tights, calling themselves The Executioners. On May 11 of that year, the duo won the World Tag Team Championship from Tony Parisi and Louis Cerdan. O'Connor went on to be known as Big John Studd.

After finishing a stellar career in 1977, the WWE Legend opened the Killer Kowalski Institute of Professional Wrestling in Malden, Mass., a place where individuals who wanted to pursue a mat career were taught everything and then some. To his credit, the most famous graduate of Kowalski's school went on to become one of the premier performers in WWE history, current WWE Champion Triple H.

So, it was only fitting that in 1996 when Kowalski was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Triple H himself had the honor and privilege of presenting his mentor.

Survived by his wife Theresa, Walter "Killer" Kowalski was a kind gentleman who loved life to the fullest. But inside the ring, he was all business, and certainly one tough individual you did not want to mess with.

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Services will be held this Wednesday, September 3 at:
Weir Funeral Home
144 Salem Street
Malden, MA 02148

Afternoon Services:  2-4 p.m.
Evening Services:  6-8 p.m.

The Funeral will be on Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that wrestling fans send donations to:
Walter "Killer" Kowalski Memorial Fund
c/o Citizens Bank
876 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148

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