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Joe Malcewicz (1897-1962)

Real NameJoseph Malcewicz

Lifespan - 3/17/1897 - 4/20/1962

6'1" 190 lbs. - Utica, NY

Athletic BackgroundWrestling (Utica)

Teacher(s)Farmer Burns, Herbert Hartley

AliasesJoe Ginsberg

Peak Years1920s

Place in HistoryJoe Malcewicz was a successful professional wrestler and became a long-running promoter in Northern California. He was an excellent amateur out of New York and became known as the “Utica Panther” for his ferocious style, which also earned him the nickname “Elbows” in some circles.  Malcewicz spent some time working as Joe Ginsburg, the Hebrew champion, but it soon became clear that he was capable of much more.  Although Malcewicz was successful, a major championship evaded him.  By the mid-1920s, Malcewicz was a blue chipper for Boston promoter Paul Bowser.  He had a memorable match with “Strangler” Lewis, where he raised his stock in a losing effort.  Malcewicz also stepped in a ring with Joe Stecher, who walked out instead of squaring off with the young grappler. Then came his controversial “win” over World Champion Earl Caddock that did not give him the title as Caddock went on to drop it to Stecher soon after. Despite the fact Malcewicz had the legitimate ability and the sand to rough people up, he never fully lived up to his promise as a world-beater. While he was biting at the heels of the top stars for years, Malcewicz seemed to never be large enough, political enough and some might say motivated enough to secure that spot.  Instead, Malcewicz took over the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1930s as a promoter.  It was a solid operation for three decades and Malcewicz earned his money there.  The veteran grappler, now nicknamed “Old Waffle Ears” (for his distinct cauliflower ears), was promoting the next generation during the 1940s and 1950s.  Aside from a pair of matches between NWA Champion Lou Thesz and local 49er star Leo Nomellini, San Francisco never drew particularly big houses.  He used the Sharpe Brothers, Ted “King Kong” Cox and talent from the Los Angeles booking office over the years and had a consistent operation.  He, like many others, had television, but was not of that generation and never utilized past building his houses with free exposure. He was an NWA member throughout the 1950s, but when Roy Shire moved into San Francisco in the early 1960s, Malcewicz could not put up a fight. Shire’s strong television, exciting new stars and dynamic product overwhelmed the aging promoter.  Shortly after Malcewicz passed away and the promotional war was decidedly over.  Malcewicz's career might best be summed up by the word "complacency."  He was complacent with being a top wrestler, even if he was not the champion. He was complacent with running a city and making his money, even if he was not packing houses or presenting an innovative product.