John Tolos Death – Kidney Failure
1930-2009 (Age 78)
“There’s only one way to spell wrestling, and that’s T-O-L-O-S.” With these words, John Tolos aggravated wrestling fans during promos and infuriated them with his heel tactics in the ring.
With a career dating back to the 1950s, John Tolos is remembered by wrestling fans from multiple generations thanks to his time as a wrestler and a manager.
The man nicknamed “The Golden Greek” carved out his place in wrestling history many times; whether it was his team with brother Chris, his legendary feud against Freddie Blassie, or his managerial stint in the early 1990s WWF.
Without question, Tolos captured the imagination and ire of wrestling fans young and old.
The Canadian Wrecking Crew
John Tolos entered the world on September 18, 1930. The Hamilton, Ontario native entered the squared circle in 1951, teaming with his older brother Chris.
The Tolos Brothers, nicknamed “The Canadian Wrecking Crew” and “The Hamilton Wrecking Crew” quickly earned the scorn of the fans for their heelish tactics as well as their opponents’ scorn thanks to their overly stiff wrestling style
According to Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson’s book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams, John’s rough style of working matches earned him the Cauliflower Alley’s Golden Potato Award in 2004.
John and Chris competed against some of the top teams of the time including brother duos like the Millers, George and Sandy Scott, and the famed team of Antonino Rocca and Miguel Perez.
The Tolos Brothers would go on to win multiple tag team championships, distinguishing themselves during what was known as the golden age of tag team wrestling and securing their place as one of the all-time great tag teams.
John Tolos Goes Solo
However, tag team wrestling was just one part of John’s career. Both brothers eventually decided to go into singles action and John headed to Los Angeles where he would become one of the area’s most hated wrestlers.
John Tolos found success on the West Coast in the NWA Hollywood territory in Los Angeles.
It was here that Tolos worked one of the most famous feuds in wrestling, battling Freddie Blassie.
The program began with Tolos challenging Blassie for the Americas title.
The two waged a bloody war over the belt. However, things escalated further when Tolos attacked Blassie during an awards ceremony. There, Tolos blinded Blassie with medicated powder known as Monsel’s Powder.
This led to a historic showdown at the Los Angeles Coliseum with Dave Meltzer reporting that the show drew 25,847 fans paying $142,158.50, quite the sum for the early 1970s.
At one point, Tolos and Blassie even appear on The Steve Allen Show with Blassie attacking Tolos on the air. This an angle would be repeated years later by Jerry “The King” Lawler and Andy Kaufman with talk-show host David Letterman.
“The Golden Greek’s” Continued Success
The singles feud with Blassie was the highlight of Tolos’ career but by no means the end of his success. Tolos continued winning championships in singles and tag team action across North America until retiring in 1985.
As sometimes happens, Tolos continued in wrestling, but as a manager. He worked in the WWF in 1991 as “Coach” John Tolos.
There, he managed Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig and the Beverley Brothers, but managing wrestlers proved unfulfilling.
After this brief stint in the WWF, Tolos wrestled his last match, meeting Killer Kowalski in Japan.
John Tolos’ later years were marked by health problems. A series of heart attacks and a stroke sapped his energy.
Tolos reportedly isolated himself from all but his family as he battled the aftereffects of his stroke.
John Tolos’ Death at 78.
On May 29, 2009 “The Golden Greek” passed away from kidney failure. He was 78.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Tolos was survived by his son, daughter, and sister (his brother Chris died in 2005).