A Right Transatlantic Villain
Gori Ed Mangotich
Wrestling was never short of colourful characters with equally colourful names. When Canadian Edwin Reid chose his ring name he certainly chose it well and it is a name still fondly remembered by those who saw him in action.
Talking to a very famous wrestler of the 1960s and 1970s the name Gori Ed Mangotich cropped up. Names withheld to avoid embarrassment. “I remember him very well, a good wrestler. I often worked with him when I went down to work in London for a week at a time. He was a big worker for Lincoln. I think Lincoln got him started.”
Wrong, so very wrong.
Well it’s all true except for that last sentence. Gori Ed Mangotich, “The buddy of Doctor Death,” was certainly a big name for Lincoln in the 1960s, but his glory years had begun long before that.
A Canadian veteran from the late 1940s Gori Ed Mangotich it is true that Gori Ed is mostly remembered in Britain these days for his work with promoter Paul Lincoln in the 1960s. Yet his position as one of the top wrestlers in the country had been sealed in the 1950s, when he wrestled just about every big name in British rings.
Australian wrestler Lincoln started promoting in the late 1950s to challenge the near monopoly of Dale Martin Promotions in southern England. At the time Ed Mangotich was one of the top workers for Dale Martin Promotions. Lincoln gathered together a small band of talented and loyal workers, one of whom was Gori Ed, who could be seen regularly wrestling other Lincoln stars Judo Al Hayes, Rebel Ray Hunter, Mike Marino, Wayne Bridges, Bob Kirkwood and others. Paul Lincoln wrestling shows are now considered by many fans to have been the most entertaining of all wrestling shows in the 1960s.
One wrestling fan who remembers Gori Ed was Ballymoss, who told us, “Gori Ed Mangotich was a stalwart of Paul Lincoln promotions and I saw him regularly in the early to mid 1960's, usually at the Hackney Empire or Granada Brixton. He was a tough first rate ‘heel’ confirming his status as his billing suggested as a "lumberjack". In solo contests he rarely managed to win, often being disqualified.” Another fan remembered that he signed a “cool autograph.”
An indication of his importance in the Lincoln hierarchy was that Ed was chosen by Lincoln to appear in the 1962 promotional documentary "The Wrestling Game," his match against Judo Al Hayes the second on the bill in a show available on You Tube.
When the BBC broadcast professional wrestling in 1965 the services of Ed were called upon once more, Judo Al Hayes again the opponent. When Paul Lincoln brought the American ballet dancer Ricky Starr to Britain one of his first opponents was Gori Ed Mangotich. Here was a man that promoters could trust.
Unlike many of the Paul Lincoln stars Gori Ed was no Lincoln discovery; he had a wrestling history going back more than a decade.
Lincoln billed Gori Ed as a Canadian lumberjack, which we assumed to be another example of wrestling promoters and the fluidity of truth. Well, the lumberjack bit might well be a bit of fiction, but Gori Ed Mangotich was a Canadian, from Toronto. His professional wrestling career began shortly after the Second World War, a regular worker for Toronto Promoter Red Garner, and we found him working on Canadian bills as early as September, 1948 in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
In June, 1952, we find him billed as a "Rugged Yugoslav." The following summer Ed and tag partner Red Garner were working in Ontario and said to be "The biggest Toronto villains." Gori Ed was certainly a headlining act back in Canada and Wrestling Heritage member Carlton St remembers him in Canada as the star of the Ontario circuit.
A newspaper report in 1954 demonstrates that Gori Ed was always a very rough and aggressive wrestler. In Canada Ed would sometimes wrestle with his brother, Doni, but we do not know if the two were actually brothers.
In September, 1954 Ed made his way to Britain, where he was advertised as the Middleweight Champion of Canada. In October of that year we find him wrestling against Charlie Fisher. Further matches followed against Al Hayes, Mike Marino, Gerhardt de Jaeger and others. These were amongst the best and biggest names in British wrestling.
Highlight of the tour came on 15th December, 1954 when he wrestled Bert Royal at the Royal Albert Hall in London with more than 5,000 fans in attendance.
The Canadian certainly made an impression on British wrestling fans. The Mat Review magazine of March, 1955, had the headline “Send Him back To Canada,” and reported:
“One of the most unpopular wrestlers with the “gallery gods” of the wrestling arenas throughout England is roguish Canadian champion Gori Ed Mangotich of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. In the ring Mangotich is a one-man wave of destruction. He tears into his opponent, clamps on a vicious hammerlock and proceeds to soften-up his ring foeman. The fans yell, ‘Send him back to Canada,’ but undaunted Mangotich chases after his adversary eager for victory. Obviously they breed them tough in the Canadian backwoods."”
The visit lasted into the spring of 1955 and it was during this period Ed made friends with Paul Lincoln, who had recently arrived from Australia.
Ed returned to Canada and wrestled there during 1955 and 1956, but was soon back wrestling in Britain, setting up home in Tierney Road, Streatham Hill, and later in Surrey.
To begin with Ed worked for the biggest wrestling promoters in the country, Dale Martin Promotions. This meant most of his matches were in the south of the country but with the occasional jaunt north. Another appearance at the Royal Albert Hall took place on 9th October, 1957, when Ed lost against the British champion Eric Taylor. Yet another call to wrestle at the country’s number one venue came on 14th January, 1959, when Gori Ed wrestled Charlie Fisher.
Ed worked five or six nights of the week, upsetting the fans with his disregard for the rules, a character very different from the gentlemanly Ed to be found outside the ring. Not just around the halls, Gori Ed was also known to television fans, with his opponents on the weekly ITV wrestling show including British champion Tommy Mann and the very popular Johnny Kwango.
In the early 1960s many wrestlers were becoming disenchanted with their treatment by Dale Martin Promotions. Promoters were making large profits at the expense of wrestlers who felt they were underpaid. When Paul Lincoln, who had by then moved into wrestling promotions, was seeking talented wrestlers to fill his bills. Gori Ed Mangotich was one of the many who responded to the call, and in July 1962 we find him working for Lincoln.
Thus began the part of his career most fondly remembered by British fans, working with the likes of the Wild Man of Borneo, Dr Death, Mike Marino, and the myriad of colourful characters that made Lincoln shows so exciting for the fans. When masked man Doctor Death was looking for a suitably villainous tag team partner he looked no further than Gori Ed. The two men could enrage the fans with their underhand tactics.
In 1966 Paul Lincoln Management merged with Dale Martin Promotions and Gori Ed Mangotich returned to Dale Martin rings. Having been in the wrestling business for twenty years the years were beginning to catch up the high profile days of Gori Ed Mangotich were behind him. In the second half of the 1960s appearances became less frequent and we last find him in the ring on 17th December, 1970, knocking out Docker Don Stedman at Ilford Baths.