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Bobby Managoff (1918-2002)

Real NameRobert Manoogian, Jr.

Lifespan - 1/4/1918 - 4/3/2002

6’ 232 lbs. - Chicago, IL

Athletic BackgroundWrestling, Bodybuilding

Teacher(s) - Robert Manoogian Sr., Dusek Riot Squad

Aliases - none

Peak Years`42-`53

Place in HistoryWhile second and even third generation pro-wrestlers are common, in the first half of the twentieth century it was still unusual.  The Big Yusiff, also known as the Terrible Turk, was an accomplished pro in the first decades of the century and even wrestled Frank Gotch in 1916 in the match where Gotch broke his leg and ended his career.  His son was raised in Chicago and took to wrestling and bodybuilding naturally.  His father broke him in when he was still a teenager, but it was not long before he was wearing gold.  Taking the name “Bobby Managoff,” his Armenian heritage was not a secret and was probably part of his appeal.  He was not only tall, dark and handsome in a rugged sort of way as a young wrestler.  It is no wonder received a big break in San Francisco and then Houston when he was still in his early 20s.  When the United States entered World War II, it created a shake-up for talent.  Respected by his peers and popular with the fans, Bobby Managoff was booked as a rising star in Houston building to a challenge of Yvon Robert’s National Wrestling Association’s World title.  While the title was one of several world title claimants at the time, the win was huge for Managoff.  He reigned for several months before being unseated by Wild Bill Longson, the top drawing card of the era, in St. Louis.  Managoff continued to be a success in Texas, working with Dave Levin, Ray Eckert and Buddy Rogers.  Managoff was unquestionably a legitimate wrestler who even Lou Thesz ranked in his list of the twenty-five greatest wrestlers.  However, he was a talented performer as well.  He combined athleticism and speed with great body language and ring generalship not unlike Thesz, Verne Gagne and other real wrestlers who went pro.  Managoff found success in various territories, but he was a dominant champion in Montreal through 1950.  The city was arguably the hottest in the world and Managoff even bought into Eddie Quinn’s operation for a time.  He won and lost the area’s version of the World title five times opposite the likes Yvon Robert, Lou Thesz, Buddy Rogers and Yukon Eric.  Managoff refocused on his hometown of Chicago, which was run by Fred Kohler at the time.  The promotion had been the center of the pro-wrestling world when it was on the Dumont Network, but after losing their slot, they quickly degraded.  Managoff helped book talent back into the city and promoted the Chicago Stadium for years.  He also bought into Tom Packs’ St. Louis outfit with Thesz, Quinn and others, running opposition to Sam Muchnick for a time.  Bobby Managoff retired in the 1960s and moved out of the limelight.  Curiously, Bobby Managoff’s fame might have been greater than his father’s, but his sister, Kay Armen, was far more widely known as a singer in the 1940s and 1950s.  Bobby was an artist himself.  He did carvings and sculptures, although his casting of the French Angel’s death mask maybe his most famous work.  Pro-wrestling had a lucrative period during and immediately after World War II with numerous promotions pushing their champion as World champion.  Bobby Managoff was one of those in a couple different areas.  It speaks to his ability in ring and popularity with the fans.  Even after the National Wrestling Alliance was formed and Lou Thesz unified many of these titles, Managoff was a frequent challenger.  He was one of the true legends of his era.