Sam Muchnick was a widely-respected promoter and kingmaker.

Sam Muchnick Death – Internal Bleeding

1905-1998 (Age 93)

In an industry based on deceit and double-crosses, promoter Sam Muchnick was a rarity among wrestling promoters. He kept his word and treated his wrestlers and customers with respect and honesty.

While Muchnick was no angel, he helped found and sustain the National Wrestling Alliance as the world’s premier wrestling organization for decades, all the while operating the famous St. Louis wrestling territory.

Born in the Ukraine on August 22, 1905, the future wrestling giant’s family moved to St. Louis when Sam was six years old. Muchnick worked as a postal clerk before becoming a sportswriter, making many connections that would help him throughout his career. Eventually, Muchnick went into promoting wrestling, a sport which like today, had its peaks and lows.

Forming the National Wrestling Alliance

Muchnick and several other promoters decided to form the National Wrestling Alliance when they tired of the difficulties they had getting the National Wrestling Association’s world champion to wrestle for them.

Muchnick and his business partners developed a syndicate (an apt word for anyone familiar with how the NWA eventually developed a stranglehold on wrestling) where they would share their world champion and stick together to deal with rival promoters.

The NWA grew under Muchnick’s leadership, adding members from around the world. It eventually grew so strong that the federal government investigated it for antitrust violations. Muchnick used his diplomatic skills to avoid a government prosecution. Instead, the NWA would enter a consent decree, effectively promising to play nice.

Muchnick’s diplomatic skills were often called upon due to rivalries that sometimes developed amongst NWA promoters. Muchnick did what he thought was best for the NWA as a whole rather than just certain promotions. His decisions weren’t always well-received, but he stayed on as President for many years as the NWA grew.

That’s not to say that Muchnick didn’t have problems as NWA President. He saw Verne Gagne form his own promotion, the American Wrestling Association as well as former NWA member Vince McMahon Sr. (who formed the World-Wide Wrestling Federation). Eventually, Muchnick was able to get both men to work with him.

Professional Wrestling Kingmaker

Sam Muchnick was a kingmaker thanks to his St. Louis wrestling territory and its TV show Wrestling at the Chase. The territory was a no-nonsense promotion where Muchnick generously paid his performers but expected them to obey his rules including being on time and not missing shows.

If a wrestler didn’t, Muchnick could hold a grudge. In some cases never using them again. He rarely used blood in matches, booked clean finishes, and avoided gimmicky wrestlers such as The Sheik, whose antics in St. Louis led to him becoming persona non grata.

The promotion’s NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship became a stepping-stone to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship as past Missouri champions such as Harley Race, Terry Funk, and Bob Backlund (who was once considered for the NWA World strap but ultimately went to the WWWF to become its champion) achieved world title glory.

Sam Muchnick retired in 1982 as St. Louis held “Sam Muchnick Day” on January 1, 1982, the same day of Muchnick’s last wrestling show. In 1997, the WWF honored Sam at its In Your House: Bad Blood pay-per-view.

Muchnick was inducted into several professional wrestling halls of fame such as the NWA Hall of Fame and The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Wrestling Museum. He was also inducted into The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

The Death of Sam Muchnick

On December 30, 1998, Sam Muchnick passed away from internal bleeding while hospitalized at St. Louis’ St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. Muchnick had been ill for many months. He was 93 years old and is buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Jennings, Missouri.

Other pro wrestlers who died in 1998 include  Bobo Brazil, Giant HaystacksJunkyard Dog, and Louis Spicolli.

What are your favorite memories of Sam Muchnick both as a promoter and as NWA President? Did you get to watch any of his shows? Let us know in the comments below.