Leo Joseph Nomellini (June 19, 1924 – October 17, 2000) was an Italian-American Hall of Fame American football offensive and defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers and professional wrestler. He played college football for Minnesota, and was a three-time tag team champion in wrestling.
|No. 42, 73|
|Born:||June 19, 1924|
Lucca, Tuscany, Italy
|Died:||October 17, 2000 (aged 76)|
|Height:||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight:||259 lb (117 kg)|
|High school:||Crane (IL)|
|NFL Draft:||1950 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Nomellini was born at Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, and immigrated to the United States as an infant to Minnesota, before later moving to Chicago, Illinois where he attended Crane High School. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps. It was there that in 1942, he first started playing football.
After the war, he received a football scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where he became a two-time All-American and the 49ers' first-ever NFL draft choice in 1950. While at Minnesota, Nomellini was a member of Delta Chi fraternity.
Nomellini was selected in the 1st round (11th overall) of the 1950 NFL draft, the first draft pick in the history of the San Francisco 49ers. As a professional, he appeared in 174 regular-season games and started 166 for his 14-year career.
While with the 49ers, he played both offensive and defensive tackle, winning All-Pro honors at both positions. He was selected to the All-NFL team six times: two years on offense and four years on defense. "He was as strong as three bulls," said 49ers teammate Joe Perry. "He'd slap you on the back and knock you twenty feet." Nomellini was named to the NFL's all-time team as a defensive tackle. In 1969, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and in 1977, the College Football Hall of Fame.
NWA San FranciscoEdit
During the off-season Nomellini often wrestled professionally as Leo "The Lion" Nomellini debuting in Minnesota in 1950. For his career, he was a 10-time tag team champion. He won his first tag team championship in NWA San Francisco on March 14, 1952 when he teamed with Hombre Montana. The duo defeated Mike Sharpe and Ben Sharpe for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) . Four months later, Nomellini and Gino Garibaldi won the NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Championship. In April 1953, Nomellini regained the NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Championship while teaming with Enrique Torres when they defeated Fred and Ray Atkins. Nomellini and Torres defeated the Mike and Ben Sharpe on May 6, 1953 for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version). On May 11, 1954 Nomellini teamed with Rocky Brown to defeat the Sharpes and win the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version). In 1957, Nomellini, again teaming with Torres, defeated Lord James Blears and Ben Sharpe for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version).
While working for the National Wrestling Alliance, Nomellini once defeated Lou Thesz in a two-out-of-three falls match, but was not awarded the NWA World Heavyweight Championship because the first fall was a disqualification.
NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club/American Wrestling AssociationEdit
On May 15, 1958, Nomellini, teaming with Verne Gagne defeated Mike and Doc Gallagher for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Minneapolis version). He would win the title again on July 14, 1959 while teaming with Butch Levy and defeated Karol and Ivan Kalmikoff. He would win it for the last time on July 19, 1960, once again teaming with Gagne and defeating Stan Kowalski and Tiny Mills.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2008
- NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club - American Wrestling Association
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (4 times) - with Hombre Montana (1), Enrique Torres (2), and Rocky Brown (1)
- "Leo Nomellini". Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- 1949 Minnesota Gopher yearbook, p.388, accessed 12 Aug 2020.
- Maiocco, Matt; Clark, Dwight (2013). San Francisco 49ers: The Complete Illustrated History (Illustrated ed.). MVP Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-0760344736. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
- Sullivan, Pat (October 18, 2000). "Ex-49er Leo 'Lion' Nomellini Dies at 76 / Hall of Famer suffered stroke 3 weeks ago". SFGate.com. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- Klingman, Kyle (June 20, 2008). "Flood won't stop Tragos/Thesz HOF 'Super Weekend'". Slam! Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved November 6, 2018.