Walter “Killer” Kowalski
Teacher, professional wrestler.
Walter Kowalski was a Canadian professional wrestler. He famously went by the ring-name “Killer Kowalski,” a moniker he gained after a match with Eric Young in 1952 during which a knee drop from Kowalski severed a piece of his opponent’s ear.
Born Edward Walter Spulnik on October 13, 1926 in Windsor, Ontario, he was the son of Polish immigrants and legally changed his name to Walter Kowalski in 1963. He majored in electrical engineering at Assumption College (now part of the University of Windsor) while working part-time in Detroit at the Ford Motor Company. While exercising at the YMCA, someone suggested that Kowalski should enter the wrestling business due to his immense size: he was over 2 meters tall and 122 kilograms. Kowalski took this advice and began wrestling in 1948. He went on to have a notable 26 year career, including holding multiple championships with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment/WWE) and participating in the first wrestling match televised in Canada on January 14, 1953. In the 1960’s Kowalski became a vegetarian and would be an outspoken advocate for vegetarianism the rest of his life. Kowalski retired from wrestling in 1977.
After retiring he became a teacher of his own wrestling school, the Killer Kowalski Institute for Professional Wrestling in Malden, Massachusetts. He trained many famous students, including Big John Studd and current WWE superstar Triple H.
Kowalski married his long-time girlfriend Theresa Ferrioli on June 19, 2006, at the age of 79. A series of escalating health-issues affected Kowalski in his later life, culminating with a massive heart attack on August 8, 2008. He later passed away on August 30, 2008, due to complications from the heart attack. He was 81 years old.