Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don Kent

Don Kent was a villain of international reputation, having wrestled throughout the USA, Australia, Japan and other places. He was mouthy and obnoxious in his interviews. He was vile and underhanded in the ring. He was everything a bad guy could be and then some.

Midwestern states served for his greatest run, where throughout the 1970s he was a major draw. He and Al Costello held the World Tag team title as The Fabulous Kangaroos, while on his won he had bloody feuds with Jay Strongbow, Domenic Denucci and Captain Ed George. 

Glimpses of him may be seen in the documentary, I Like To Hurt People.

Arizona also served as one of Kent's literal stomping grounds in the 1960s, where he usually came to escape the rough Michigan winters.

As was usually the case, Kent feuded with Tito Montez. Everyone feuded with Tito when they came in. Tito was the man to beat. The Montez vs. Kent feud, however, was especially brutal.

"For nine weeks in a row we feuded throughout Arizona and filled the arenas," Montez would later remark. "He always was able to slip by me and  until I finally beat him in a cage match. Up to that, the houses were full every week, but when I beat him the people finally got to go home happy and the next week the house was way down."

Kent also feuded with Luis Martinez, Pancho Pico, Frankie Cain, Cowboy Bob Ellis and Phil Melby.

Though predominately in singles matches, Kent likewise teamed with varied wrestlers. Among the best in the area were Pat Patterson, Jim Osborne, Blas Corona and Gypsy Biviano.

Kent's longstanding feud with Frankie Canon (The Great Maphisto in other places later on) was likewise a major draw. As with Montez, they met in cage matches, stretcher matches and chain matches before packed buildings.

Long after Kent left Arizona for the final time, his name was still talked about. A newcomer using the name of Jimmy Kent and claiming to be a "brother" to Don Kent though apparently no relation, used this last name to launch a feud with Montez himself in the 1970s.

"I beat your brother in a cage match here," Tito shouted into the television cameras as the Jimmy Kent feud was wrapping up.

He continued onward in full fury.

"I ran Don Kent out of Arizona. When I get you n the cage this Friday I plan to do the same to you."

Which he did.

Jimmy Kent headed for Memphis and wrestled for several years, before becoming a manager.

Whether the two "brothers" ever met up is anyone's guess.

Other people Don Kent faced during his varied trips into Arizona included Wally Steele, Eddie Lopez, Dick Cheney (NOT the former Vice President), Juan Garcia, Tony Marino, Ken Lucas and Kiko Torres.

Don Kent died from leukemia in 1991 and was laid to rest in Battlecreek, Michigan under his real name of Leo Smith. An obituary and cemetery info may be found in The Last Bell Call  book and e book dealt with in a past blog.

There is also a Face Book group devoted to him. 

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