Stan Kowalski (born Bert Smith; May 13, 1926 – October 20, 2017) was an American professional wrestler who was one half of the tag team Murder Incorporated with partner Tiny Mills in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) from 1960 to 1975.
|Birth name||Bert Smith|
|Born||May 13, 1926|
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
|Died||October 20, 2017(aged 91)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||The Big K|
Slamming Sammy Slivers
Krippler Karl Kovacs
|Billed height||6 ft 2.5 in (1.89 m)|
|Billed weight||290 lb (130 kg)|
|Trained by||Sandor Szabo|
Kowalski wrestled and played football at North High School. At age 17, under an assumed name, he joined the US Navy (United States Navy) and served in the Pacific on three submarines (USS Plaice SS 390, USS Bashaw SS 241, USS Barb SS 220) for three and a half years as a Gunners Mate(GM) during the Second World War (World War II]. He enrolled at the University of Minnesota after the war. He joined the wrestling team, where he met local promoter Joe) Pazendak, the University's unofficial assistant wrestling coach. He turned down a chance to play football for the Green Bay Packers in 1950.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Kowalski turned to professional wrestling, debuting as Buddy Marco for a NWA promotion run by Tony Stecher. He traveled to Los Angeles, where he trained with Sandor Szabo. In 1955, promoter Jack Pfefer changed his ring name to Krusher Kowalski; Kowalski was a family name.
He later formed a tag team with Canadian wrestler Tiny Mills as Murder Incorporated. They wrestled together in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. They won the Minneapolis version of the NWA World Tag Team Championships twice while working for the NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club. When that promotion became the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in 1960, Mills and Kowalski became the first AWA World Tag Team Champions. They also won the Canadian Open Tag Team Championship, defeating Billy "Whipper" Watson and Ilio DiPaolo in 1960. They lost the championship early in 1961. Later, he managed Ivan Koloff.
In 1969, he has a brief appearance in an Ohio promotion, Ohio Wrestling Classics. Then, in 1970, he went to New York to wrestle in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) as Krippler Karl Kovacs. In Pennsylvania, Kowalski and Bruno Sammartino set a record attendance and gate of $86,000.
After retiring from professional wrestling, Kowalski owned a night club with wrestler Blackjack Daniels, worked as a police officer, union negotiator, and business agent. He resided in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he was active in charities, fundraisers, and speaking engagements. He volunteered with the United Way and helped homeless veterans. Kowalski was married to his wife Cleo since 1961 and had two children, a son Scott Smith, and daughter Stacy Smith. He lost part of his colon due to cancer in 2006. He died on October 20, 2017.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- 50th State Big Time Wrestling
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Honoree (2000)
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club / American Wrestling Association
- Oliver, Greg (March 21, 2011). ""The Big K" Stan Kowalski gives and gives". SLAM Wrestling. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
- Levy, Paul (October 4, 2011). "Kowalski , goes to the mat for homeless vets". Star Tribune. Retrieved 22 October 2017.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA World Tag Team Title (Minneapolis)". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "AWA World Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "Toronto: Canadian Open Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. p. 352. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- Oliver, Greg (October 21, 2017). "Stan Kowalski: Wrestler, veteran, patriot, fundraiser ... friend to many". SLAM Wrestling. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "NWA Hawaii Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
- "List of CAC Award Winners". Cauliflower Alley Club. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
- Stan Kowalski's profile at Cagematch.net, Wrestlingdata.com