Saturday, 2:15 PM
'Killer' Kowalski, wrestler, remembered at Malden service
(Mark Wilson/Globe Staff)
Pallbearers (left to right) Paul Levesque, also known as "Triple H", Dan Ouellette, Jamie Jamitkowski, and Mike Hollow carried pro wrestling legend Walter "Killer" Kowalski into St. Joseph's Church.
By S.I. Rosenbaum, Globe Correspondent
Hundreds of people, many of them younger wrestlers, gathered today at a Malden church to pay their respects to Walter "Killer" Kowalski, the wrestling legend who died during the weekend at the age of 81.
Kowalski, who retired in the late 1970s and taught wrestling in the Boston area afterwards, taught students "how to carry yourself as a champion, how to protect your opponent as well as yourself, the dignity that comes with sweat," Don Bravo, an old associate of Kowalski's, said in the eulogy.
One of Kowalski's most famous students, Paul Levesque, also known as "Triple H," the current World Wrestling Federation world champion, said after the service that Kowalski was an amazing teacher who imparted his wisdom so "guys could live the dream he lived."
The crowd at St. Joseph's Church included young men with shaved heads, long ponytails, and long feathered curls, who had been Kowalski's students. A few women were also among those in the crowd. Many had traveled from far away to attend.
Some wore purple because Kowalski had believed that that color was the best for a wrestler. A reporter and photographer from Japan, where Kowalski had a following, attended.
Kowalski was famous for his signature move, the claw hold, which consisted of grabbing his opponent's stomach and twisting, the Globe reported Sunday.
He retired from pro wrestling, which requires equal parts athleticism and showmanship, in April 1977 and then taught his techniques in Malden and North Andover, holding classes every Saturday up until March.
Outside the ring, Kowalski was a vegetarian who enjoyed classical music, philosophy, and photography, and followed the teachings of Jesus.
He suffered a massive heart attack Aug. 8 and was taken off life support Aug. 18.
A member of World Wrestling Entertainment's Hall of Fame, Kowalski leaves behind his wife, Theresa Ferrioli, and a brother, Stanley Spulnik of Ottawa.
(Boston Garden Wrestling)
Kowalski fighting Dean Ho of Hawaii (on bottom).