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Stan Kowalski


Real Name - Bert Smith

Birthdate - 5/13/1926

6’2” 292 lbs.- Minneapolis, MN


Athletic Background - Football (University of Minnesota), Wrestling (US Navy), Boxing (High School)

Teacher(s) - Joe Pazandak

Aliases - Buddy Marco, Tony Marco, Killer Kowalski, Sam Silvers, Ivan Kola, Crusher Kowalski, Krusher Kowalski, Krippler Karl Kovacs

Peak Years - 1960s

Place in History - Stan Kowalski was a nasty villain in the ring, but one of the most dedicated and generous humanitarians to ever come through the sport.  Kowalski served as a gunner’s mate in the Pacific during World War II and the experience so changed his life that he has dedicated much of it to aiding his fellow veterans through his work with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and POW-MIA Foundation.  In addition to that, his work with United Way, Lions Club International, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the YMCA, as well as serving as a member of his local school board for eighteen years are just some examples of his civil service.  However, the years following his military service and retirement from the sport were filled with years of nefarious rulebreaking in pro-wrestling ring around the world.  He was a big, athletic kid who was perfect for the sport in that Golden Age.  Jack Pfefer turned him into Killer Kowalski, like the already famous one, to wrestle alongside Bruno Sanmartino, Bummy Rogers, Ted Blassie and others.  Kowalski was just an undercard wrestler when Tiny Mills took him on as a partner.  Mills and his older brother had been a formidable team across Canada and were sometimes known as “Murder Inc.”  Mills had always followed his brother’s lead and although younger, he found a suitable replacement in “Big K.”  Kowalski and Mills became an impressive tandem in the Upper Midwest and were early top draws for the newly formed AWA as well as Maple Leaf Wrestling out of Toronto.  Krusher Kowalski and Tiny Mills battled top faces like Verne Gagne, Leo Nomellini and Whipper Watson with various partners.  They were vicious heels and had some successful foreign tours.  When Mills retired, Kowalski stayed on for a few more years, even having a run as a heel challenger to Bruno Sammartino in the WWWF.  His interests were varied though from running nightclubs, working a police officer and being a union head, so he moved on with his life.  Kowalski is probably best remembered in the pro-wrestling world for his time with Murder Inc., but his contributions outside the ring have made him a local hero in the Greater Twin Cities.

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