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Leo Garibaldi (1929-2008)

Real Name - Leo Gino Curcuru

Lifespan - 7/19/1929- 5/12/2008

6’1” 210 lbs. - Las Vegas, NV

Athletic Background - Wrestling (NY Military Academy)

Teacher(s) - Gino Garibaldi

Aliases - Frank Garza

Peak Years - `55-`60

Place in History - Leo Garibaldi might have built his initial reputation as one of the most natural and talented white-meat babyfaces of his era, but it was as a booker after his in-ring career ended that he is probably most widely known for in modern times.  A second-generation wrestler who began traveling the roads with his father as a teenager, Leo absorbed the business and developed one of the best minds it has ever known.  Gino Garibaldi was a hard-nosed good guy who worked all over the country in the Depression era.  He and his brothers were all wrestlers and it is no surprise that young Leo eventually followed in their footsteps.  He spent his youth honing his amateur skills at the New York Military Academy and was weighing his life options when he first filled in for a missing wrestler.  Garibaldi was a handsome eighteen year old with amazing endurance and a drive to make his father proud.  Leo Garibaldi became a teen idol and often teamed with his father in the 1950s.  Some regard him as one of the greatest pure babyfaces ever as his fiery comebacks could always pop a crowd.  He took a few years off from wrestling to serve in the Air Force, but returned for some of his best years.  However, a severe shoulder injury led to Garibaldi’s retirement from the ring in 1960, but he soon became a powerful player behind the scenes.  NWA President Sam Muchnick  tagged him to act as a referee for important title matches and act as a troubleshooter when necessary.  He eventually transitioned into booking and in time became one of the most highly regarded bookers of the day.  He started in Texas and caught attention with his out-of-the-box thinking.  Several have credited him with implementing some outrageous gimmicks like “tar and feather” matches, which drew in certain markets.  Garibaldi was brought into Atlanta and built his reputation there.  While his ideas seem conventional today, in the 1960s and 1970s, Garibaldi was considered an innovator.  His true talent was recognizing the potential within certain wrestlers, his ability to build up confidence in talent and work with them to create a money-drawing product.  He could help talent to get over on their own merits with personality profile segments or allow them to carefully get the rub from an established star as was the case with Mr. Wrestling and Mr. Wrestling II.  His booking turned the area into a hotbed and wrestlers from all over the country wanted to get into Georgia well before the Superstation years.  Aside from his time in Atlanta, Garibaldi tried his hand booking in the Carolinas and Florida.  Eventually, he bought into the Australian office and he lived there for a few years, although the territory’s best days were behind it.  When it was time to come back home, he settled in California and began booking for the Los Angeles office.  The promotion was on its last legs and Garibaldi used Roddy Piper and Chavo Guerrero to pop the territory briefly in the mid-70s.  After that Garibaldi relocated to Las Vegas and worked in the jewelry business.  Age and Alzheimer's eventually slowed his body and mind, but Leo Garibaldi is fondly remembered by several generations as one of the the greatest performers and bookers that they ever came across.