Wrestling Legend 'Killer' Kowalski Dead at 81

Hall of Famer 'villain' loved classical music
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2008 2:00 AM CDT
Wrestling Legend 'Killer' Kowalski Dead at 81
In this 1999, file photo, Walter "Killer" Kowalski leaves a funeral in Calgary, Alberta. Kowalski died Saturday from a heart attack. He was 81.    (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Mike Ridewood, File)

Legendary pro-wrestler "Killer" Kowalski, who founded a famous school for aspiring wrestlers, has died at the age of 81, reports the Boston Globe. Despite his villainous reputation in the ring, Kowalski was a religious vegetarian who enjoyed classical music, philosophy and photography. He might have remained a  wrestling obscurity but for a 1954 incident when he accidentally severed an opponent's ear.

"My shinbone grazed his cheek. His ear went flying across the ring," Kowalski said of the incident decades later. "The referee was yelling at me, but I was watching the blood squirting out of his head." The next week fans heckled him, calling Kowalski an animal and a killer—and a new chapter in wrestling history was launched. Kowalski was inducted into wrestling's Hall of Fame in 1996. (More Walter Kowalski stories.)

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