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Joseph Raymond “Toots” Mondt (January 18, 1894 – June 11, 1976) was an American professional wrestler and promoter who revolutionized the wrestling industry in the early to mid-1920s and co-promoted the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Some of the stars Mondt helped create from the 1920s through the 1960s included Wayne Munn, Jim Londos, Antonino Rocca, Bruno Sammartino, Stu Hart and Cowboy Bill Watts.
a.k.a. Joe Mondt
a.k.a. Joseph Mondt
Joseph Raymond “Toots” Mondt
[http://www.obsessedwithwrestling.com/profiles/t/toots–mondt.php Obsessed With Wrestling profile] ] (born 1886, died June 11 1976 [http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/columns/nostalgiapop/07.html Online World of Wrestling: Promoting the Promotors] ] ) was a former wrestling promoter who revolutionized the wrestling industry in the early to mid 1920s and co–promoted the World Wide Wrestling Federation. [http://www.wrestlingperspective.com/foundingfather.html Wrestling Perspective: The Founding Father] ]
Some of the stars Mondt helped create from the 1920s through the 1960s included Wayne Munn, Jim Londos, Antonino Rocca, Bruno Sammartino, and Cowboy Bill Watts.
Joseph Raymond Mondt was born in Wayne County, Iowa, 1886. [http://www.wrestlingperspective.com/foundingfather.html Wrestling Perspective: The Founding Father] ] Joseph (Joe) Toots was his professional name. Toots died 1976 at St. Louis, Missouri, and is buried there. Toots‘ father, Frank, was a farmer and building contractor. The Mondt family moved to Greeley, Colorado, in 1904. In tremendous shape thanks to a childhood of farm work, Joe further perfected his body by turning to the art of wrestling, a sport then taking the nation by storm for the first time.
Early wrestling career
Toots Mondt made his wrestling debut in Greeley in 1902 at the age of 16 in a carnival/wrestling style match, a match he would wrestle in for many years. [http://www.wrestlingperspective.com/foundingfather.html Wrestling Perspective: The Founding Father] ] Stu Hart claimed he ran into Toots by chance while wrestling in New York City, and that Mondt said he received his first wrestling lesson in 1916 from Jack Taylor, and Mondt tried to recruit Hart into a territory in Washington D.C . Around this time, he also tried his hand at acrobatics. However, this was an unsuccessful move and Toots returned to wrestling matches.
Toots received his big break when he was discovered by wrestling pioneer Farmer Burns during one of his scouting trips. Working with Farmer Burns was the wrestling equivalent of a Ph.D, and Burns was also responsible for Toots Mondts‘ nickname. The nickname ‘Toots’, had to do with either his small feet or his relative youth and baby face. Mondt was the youngest wrestler in Farmer Burns‘ camp.
A Wrestling Revolution
Many believe if not for the guidance and tutelage of Farmer Burns, Toots would not have succeeded onto the next level. Around this time, wrestling was about to take a huge turn, which would change the face of the industry.
Until 1919, wrestling matches were slow–moving exhibitions mainly confined to the mat and lasting on an average 60 minutes. Crowds no longer found this to be suitable entertainment and accordingly, they began to dwindle. The time was right for a new approach. This approach came from the mind of none other than Toots Mondt.
Wrestling matches slowly and eventually became pre–determined, but Toots was far from done with revolutionizing wrestling. Toots Mondt joined the camp of Ed “Strangler” Lewis with the recommendation of Farmer Burns. Toots served in many capacities as a sparring partner, trainer, sometimes as an opponent and as a valuable police officer. Few wrestlers were as tough as Toots Mondt and he made sure that every Lewis opponent knew the ‘rules’ of the night‘s match.
sparring partner and trainer
As a sparring partner and trainer, Toots Mondt helped Ed Lewis develop new holds and counters. The working relationship and unity amongst wrestling promoters was beginning to wear thin and crowd attendance was still low. Toots conceived a groundbreaking solution, which would shape and determine the face of pro wrestling. Toots‘s first solution was to change the style of the entire wrestling concept. Toots combined features of a boxing ring, Greco–Roman, freestyle wrestling, and the old–time lumber–camp style of fighting. Toots had called it ’Slam Bang Western Style Wrestling’.
Toots Mondt‘s second plan was to promote this new style of wrestling on a much higher scale. Toots convinced Ed Lewis and his manager Billy Sandow of forming their own promotion as opposed to having different promoters controlling them. The team of Mondt, Lewis and Sandow used their connections to convince many other wrestlers to sign up. This was a new innovative approach to wrestling, and Toots immediately signed literally hundreds of them to contracts.
the control of Mondt
Under the control of Mondt, Lewis and Sandow, they served as bookers and agents. Wrestlers were paid well and on time and the new style of Slam–Bang Wrestling was completely over with the fans. Toots also instituted time limits as wrestling matches would often go 3 or 4 hours. They drew huge gates and provided huge payouts for their employees.
Birth of the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF)
In 1963, Toots Mondt & Vince McMahon Sr. broke away from the NWA, renaming Capitol Wrestling Corporation to the WWWF. Toots Mondt parted ways with NWA President Sam Muchnick on good terms so that the WWWF would not be seen as an enemy. Toots & Vince were also in the middle of fighting off an invasion by Crockett Promotions from promoting in the WWWF territories.
Toots controlled his wrestling desk from the New York State AC from the mid 1950s to the mid 60s, which amazed a lot of people. When Buddy Rogers was crowned NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Toots controlled the bookings for Rogers’ title defenses. Toots would rarely allow Buddy Rogers to defend the title outside the Northeastern region. This would be one of the factors which led to the World Wide Wrestling Federation splitting from the NWA.
In April 1963, Buddy Rogers is awarded the WWWF World Heavyweight title. A fictitious ‘phantom’ tournament explains that Buddy Rogers won the title in Rio de Janeiro. This fictitious storyline was created by Toots Mondt and this explanation was also used in the birth of the WWF Intercontinental Title in 1979. The “Rio de Janeiro” storyline was as aside to Bobo Brazil.
In 1965, Toots Mondt stepped down as promotor at Madison Square Garden and Vince McMahon, Sr. took over. When Bruno Sammartino was brought into the WWWF, Vince Sr. predicted that he would be a midcarder for 2 or 3 years at best. Toots called Sammartino the future of the company because people instantly liked and responded to him. Toots convinced Vince McMahon Sr. to build the company around Bruno Sammartino.