Remembering… ‘Handsome’ Johnny Barend

Sep 25, 2011

Another great topic suggestion by volleymom2.

 

Wrestler ‘Handsome’ Johnny Barend dies in New York

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

POSTED: 09:02 p.m. HST, Sep 20, 2011

 

 

“Handsome” Johnny Barend, one of the most iconic characters from Hawaii’s golden age of professional wrestling in the 1960s-70s, died today of natural causes at his home in Avon, N.Y. He was 82.

Barend’s career spanned nearly 25 years and he wrestled everywhere from Japan to New York’s famed Madison Square Garden.

But family, friends and fans said one of his favorite places was Hawaii.

A fixture in Hawaii during much of the 1960s when Ed Francis and Lord James “Tally Ho” Blears were the promoters, Barend was known for edgy interviews which amused some and terrified others.

 

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Not being a wrestling fan, I know the name but not the wrestler.  Anyone care to share some memories of Handsome Johnny Barend?  Or any other old time wrestlers from Hawaii?

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63 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. M
    September 26th, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    First!
    Guud morning MLCers!

  2. M
    September 26th, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    Rippa Collins!
    Curtis, “da bull” Iaukea!
    Sammy Steamboat!

  3. M
    September 26th, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    Johnny Barend’s theme song was, ” Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machine”.

  4. PA
    September 26th, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    prince pupule was my favorite the taped wraparound sunglasses
    the epic matches @ the civic (eating boiled peanuts) and the HIC the crazy stuff he did in the ring like when he stuffed those leis down russ francis’s throat remember barely staying awake friday nite to watch 50th state wrestling @ 10:30pm waiting for his interview “hello mr francis” later then when was teenager lord blears brought him down to the beach @ makaha and johnny was wearing penny loafers with white athletic socks that kinda ended my childhood infatuation

  5. losthawaiian
    September 26th, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    Barend, ripper collins, the missing link, chief billy whitewolf, the sheik, haystack calhoun, andre the giant, the tag team midgets, mad dog mayne, sammy steamboat kauahi, handsome jim hades. Just a few that I remember watching on saturday afternoon on KGMB. Right after the fights and weird beard theater. They were much larger than life characters!

  6. hemajang
    September 26th, 2011 at 6:37 am #

    Was walking around natatorium and passed Curtis Iaukea sitting in a lawn chair on the beach. He was by himself, not too many people around and long retired from wrestling. Did a eh howzit and he acknowledged. But man, he looked had it, injuries and scars from wrestling messed up his head and face, scary looking but sad.

    Wasn’t a big wrestling fan but watched many matches on TV, as far back to the 50′s at my uncle’s house on b&w tv, recall watching Gorgeous George and Freddie Blassie. Uncle took me to my only live wrestling at the civic, can’t remember who the wrestlers were but think Curtis Iaukea and a Japanese guy…maybe kenji Shibuya. The only vivid memory is when a wrestler got hit, spit and sweat went straight up and pity the ones sitting ringside. I think wrestling went big time during those Saturday matches on TV and how entertaining the interviews were with Tally Ho Blears and Curtis Iaukea with his back to the camera.

  7. M
    September 26th, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    Gas tip, Sam’s Club gas is $3.89….

  8. M
    September 26th, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    Jim Hady
    The Misssing Link….OOOOHHHHH yah…
    Tosh Togo
    Kongozan
    Nick Bockwinkle

  9. LINDA KATO
    September 26th, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Monday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day everyone :!: :grin:

    I don’t remember much about wrestlers.

  10. LINDA KATO
    September 26th, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    I entered hubby in a Vegas contest on KHON TV 2 to see the BJ Penn fight in Vegas on 10/29/11. Hubby is a finalist for this contest! If he is picked the big winner we’ll be off to Vegas again :!: Fingers crossed :!: :grin:

  11. Brad
    September 26th, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    I’ll never forget watching Johnny read a “bedtime story” as part of one of his interviews. I couldn’t stop laughing!! He was da best!

  12. Keoni
    September 26th, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Gee Linda, you sure love go holoholo! :)

  13. Rodney
    September 26th, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    @Brad – Hey Brad! Welcome to the MLC blog. Thanks for posting you wrestling memories. (Brad is one of the hottest drummers in town).

  14. M
    September 26th, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    Johnny Barend married a local girl in the middle of the ring as I recall.

  15. Seawalker
    September 26th, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Read an article last week that he married a McKinley girl. She was 18 and he was 38. Go Johnny Go! :lol:

  16. LINDA KATO
    September 26th, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Keoni: We don’t need to ask permission to go on a trip now, just pack our bags and go :!: :grin:

  17. hemajang
    September 26th, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    When watching the movie “The Wrestler” it reminded me of my encounter w/Curtis Iaukea. The sport may be “fake” but it must take a terrible toll on your body…and these guys wrestle way beyond their prime. Mickey Rourke was perfect in his role but his worn out face was mostly due to bad plastic surgery from what I read. Great actor.

  18. DIO
    September 26th, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Good morning wrestling fans!!

  19. dihudfan
    September 26th, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    those were fun days… Civic Auditorium… great matches… good entertainment!! Good acting… always looked forward to watching wrestling matches on tv, local and from mainland. Will always remember Andre the Giant… while eating lunch on the rooftop (News Building) I see this giant of a person crouching down at the door. One of the sports editors was going to do an interview with Andre. He introduced Andre to us at the table… Wooooow, this guy was big… as he shook our hands, which felt like my hand was just a finger in Andre’s palm… unreal!!! What memories!!!

  20. volleymom2
    September 26th, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I must’ve been in 6th or 7th grade when wrestling peaked in Hawaii. My next door neighbors were into big time so I got into it too. We used to go down to KGMB studios on Saturday to watch, sometimes at the civic, but every Sunday at Bloch Arena which used to cost $1.00. I got every autograph… those were the days. I was so sad to learn when Jim Hades died, he was one of my favorite. I also like Johnny Barend cuz he made me laugh along with Rippa Collins. Chief Billy White Wolf was such a nice guy. RiP Johnny!!
    Thank you Rod!!

  21. Seawalker
    September 26th, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Awesome topic suggestion, @volleymom2.

    From a guy’s point of view, those were the days when we could go 200 mph and still think it was too slow. And who says wrestling is fake? It was so real that it was unreal… LOL.

    I was a little young yet when 50th state rasslin’ was at it’s peak. But I do remember watching Joe Moore hosting the boxing matches on Saturday morning at my gramp’s house. And the national wrestling scene shortly after… Super Star Billy Graham, Dusty Rhodes, The Destroyer, Billy Robinson… those guys were the real deal.

    In the early-1980s, they had shows on Friday night. It was Gentlemen Ed Francis and Lord Tallyho Blear’s second go around. Nevertheless, it was just as exciting watching with my testosterone-loaded brothers.

    I went to WWF(E) wrestling at the Blaisdell once when I was in college. You can take a kid out of wrestling, but you can never take wrestling out of a kid. :)

  22. Mary C
    September 26th, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    I never got to go see a “real” wresting match in person but loved to watch on TV. My favorite was Missing Link (ohhhh yeah). Wresting on TV was a big part of our growing up years…..

  23. Seawalker
    September 26th, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    As big as Andre the Giant was inside the ring, his legendary drinking outside the ring was most impressive. Read on…

    http://www.drunkard.com/issues/10_06/10_06_andre_giant.html

  24. Seawalker
    September 26th, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Was watching Don Muraco on Leahy and Leahy not too long ago. You would think these big thugs were all muscles and no brains. Not the Magnificent Muraco. Think he mentioned he graduated from one of those private schools in Makiki. He was witty, articulate, telling a good story, and so interesting. He even got old man Leahy to talk about the good old days of wrestling. Muraco said he was the original “Rock” before the poster-boy Dwayne Johnson took on that schtick. But I wonder what U.H. coach Mac has to say about the Rock of his football playing days for the Miami Hurricanes? Mac was the defensive coordinator for the Hurricanes back then.

  25. LINDA KATO
    September 26th, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Good afternoon MLCers :!: Thanks for sharing your stories :!:

    Everyone has such good memories for MLC :!: :grin:

  26. Sally
    September 26th, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    Never saw a live match but it was fun to be allowed to stay up late to watch at home.

    And we all know the real way to say his name is Johnny BaRAND! LOL!

  27. dihudfan
    September 26th, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    @seawalker… very interesting reading!!

  28. volleymom2
    September 26th, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    @seawalker- I thought Andre the Giant was the Japanese guy.. I know there was a Japanese wrestler that was very tall for being Asian. Does anybody remember his name?? Ah, yeah… the Missing Link.. he actually was a nice guy, but kinda scary behind all that hair.

  29. NaPueo
    September 27th, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    @volleymom2:
    You must be thinking of Giant Baba.

  30. M
    September 27th, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Guud morning MLCers!
    Happy Tuesday!

  31. LINDA KATO
    September 27th, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Tuesday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day everyone :!: :grin:

  32. volleymom2
    September 27th, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    @NaPueo- thank you, it is Giant Baba!!

  33. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Gosh, we used to buy wrestling magazines at King Fort on Fort Street Mall. Hate to admit it but read it from cover to cover. Out of all the wrestling moves, my favorite is the figure-four leg lock. Every wrestler had their signature manuver that was identified to them. Ed Francis was famous for his sleeper hold, and, man, he was a short little guy in the ring!

    When Wrestlemainia started in the 80′s, we’d order PPV and soak up all the action. Of course, Dad used to complain why the cable bill was so high. At $100 a month, he said we mobettah’ buy a brand new TV set. He didn’t understand what PPV was. Bless his heart!

    The thing with King Ripper Collins was that he could not wrestle at all. He was a haole from the mainland, and with his Southern Drawl, he could whip the local crowd into a frenzy by butchering the local dialect.

    The Missing Link a.k.a. Pamero Furple was another one of those wrestlers who was ‘all mouth’ and not much more. But his tagline, “ohhhh yeah” was something memorable crafted more for the viewing audience than his loud yell.

    Anybody ever noticed that the wrestlers had no hair under their arms? We’re not talking about the Fabulous Moolah and the other female wrestlers. With all the sweating that goes on in the ring, guess it’s better to be hairless than hairy. :)

  34. DIO
    September 27th, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Good morning everybody!

    Seawalker: I’m surprised…I wouldn’t think you guys would have cable. ;-)

  35. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    @DiO – That’s what you call living off the fat of the land… LOL

  36. hemajang
    September 27th, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

    sw…the movie “the wrestler” has Mickey Rourke character in a hairnet for dye job while shaving his chest and armpits before a match…but understand certain athletes do the same, maybe swimmers and bodybuilders?

  37. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    @hema – Heard about the the hairless antics of competitive swimmers. Where does that put the Okinawans when they’re in the pool… a full body wax?

    Curtis “the bull” Iaukea was one crazy buggah. I still remember on one of the wrestling locker room interviews, he wanted to show how tough his head was with scar tissues accumulated over the years. “Whap”, he breaks a bottle of beer on his forehead. Lord and Ed was amazed, and it was kind of freaky to see on TV.

  38. dihudfan
    September 27th, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    one day in the late 80′s or 90′s… was working on a Saturday and went to Queens BBQ to have lunch… aftah ordering, who walks in, none other than Don Moraco… this guy was built and very intimidating… talked to him a little while… nice guy!!!

  39. DIO
    September 27th, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Wow, so many wrestling memories…I swear, I feel like I was born in the wrong time frame. All of this action seems to have either taken place before I was born, or when I was so young that I hardly remember much of it. By the time I was old enough to watch and enjoy wrestling, many of the folks mentioned here retired from the wrestling, and were either managers or announcers.

    One story I came across about Lord Tally Ho Blears still amazes me:

    http://archives.starbulletin.com/2001/03/29/features/index.html

  40. ankleBYTERS
    September 27th, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Beauregard – Curtis Iaukea’s flunky….

  41. LINDA KATO
    September 27th, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    Good evening MLCers :!: :grin:

    Seawalker: you have a photographic memory! Who remembers details as you do ?!

  42. DIO
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Good evening retirees, MLCees, and recoverees ;-)

  43. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    @LK – Just have a good memory for names, but not much else. Ask the wife (kidding). Good luck with the Vegas / BJ Penn fight. Those MMA guys are worse than the wrestling boys. The object is to beat the living daylights out of your opponent. When the audience sees blood, they go bonkers. I worked with a guy once who enjoyed the sport to no end. Think everyone else thought he was a psycho.

    Hey, since you were a big winner the last trip, what happened to ‘winner in Vegas throws party for the rest of us working stiffs’? :)

  44. DIO
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Seawalker: Linda already threw the party…weren’t you invited? :-D

  45. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    And in this corner, fighting out of Oregon, standing 6’5″ and weighing in at 350 pounds… it’s DiO the real deal! *the crowd goes nuts*

  46. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    @DiO – LK will give me a pile driver, atomic drop, full-Nelson, flying drop kick, elbow smack, head-butt, airplane spin, body scissors, knuckle sandwich, and a body slam before she sends me an invitation. :lol:

  47. DIO
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    Gee, I didn’t know there was a MLC division in the WWE. ;-)

  48. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Of course, DiO. It’s the m-other of all l-iving c-reatures squared circle bouts. Just like Monday Night Raw with Triple H, John Cena, and Booker T, us homeys are a tight bunch and got your back. LOL

  49. DIO
    September 27th, 2011 at 8:58 pm #

    This segment of MLC wrestling brought to you by Salonpas…….

  50. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Salonpas for the MLC (old futs) and Ben Gay for adolescent MLC (young futs). And at the Seniors Fair, they had this clicker inside a heating pad that turns hot instantly with just a click.

  51. Steve
    September 27th, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    “Handsome” Johnny Barend was one of the most athletic and exciting wrestlers to appear in Hawaii. He first wrestled in Hawaii in 1955 and returned 9 years later in 1964 to wrestle for Ed Francis. Johnny would enter the ring wearing a black top hat, black cape, sunglasses and carrying a cane. During his locker room interviews, he would read his “fractured fairy tales” while wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigar. At one point, his entrance music was “The Batman Theme” and he would call his locker room the “Bat Cave”. He wrestled in all kinds of matches: Indian Death Matches, Steel Cage Matches, Scicilian Stretcher Death Matches, Battle Royals etc. When he would start to beat up on his opponents, the fans would cheer him on by yelling “Geev Um” (Give It To Him).

    In September of 1967, Johnny married local girl Anita Lum in the ring at the Blaisdell Arena in front of a sold out crowd before the main event. In 1972, he retired from wrestling after being injured in a match here on Oahu. Along with Curtis “The Bull” Iaukea, Ripper Collins, Jim Hady, The Masked Executioner, The Missing LInk, Lord “Tally Ho” Blears and many others, Johnny was a part of the “Golden Age Of Wrestling” in Hawaii.

  52. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    @Steve – Curtis “the bull” said Johnny Barend met his future wife in Waikiki. Annie was still married to “Handsome” for 44 years when he died last week. The Bull also said her name was Transistor Annie because she always had a transitor radio to her ear. :)

  53. Seawalker
    September 27th, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Oh, and The Bull said they met when she was still a senior in high school. Lucky buggah that Johnny!

  54. Rodney
    September 27th, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Check it out (need to turn up the volume)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcF_moWnxCI

  55. PA
    September 28th, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    although Johnny was consistantly nutty i think the craziest things i saw was mad dog mayne eat the glass blood pouring outta his mouth (maybe faked) and gorrila monsoon fall over the top rope with ed francis on his back giving him the sleeper hold and landing on ed after 15 ft drop onto the concrete floor where i was sitting not fake
    also one time ripper did the TV weather it was hilarious listening
    pronounce the island names ahoohoo, moi, KY, kakanuts
    when i moved to kailua from town side i was pretty much over
    wrestling but i remember seeing Ripper working at the Pali Lanes
    my friend lived next to him he told me he could hear Ripper say
    “goodnite children” every nite

  56. M
    September 28th, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    Guud morning MLCers :!:

  57. LINDA KATO
    September 28th, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    DIO and Seawalker: I see what I missed last night! Too funny :!:

    Seawalker: I gotta win more than a few thousand to throw a party :!: I used it to pay our daughter’s tuition down and her rent through the rest of 2011 :!: She was happy :!: Also set aside a little bit for our next trip in January 2012.

    Re: the BJ Penn fight, there are 5 finalists every night or 35 people every week! Gonna be some winning party on 10/10/11 to pick ONE winner! Gotta be super lucky to be the SOLE WINNER :!:

  58. LINDA KATO
    September 28th, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Wednesday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day everyone :!: :grin:

  59. Steve
    September 28th, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    @seawalker – Ripper Collins once said that Annie’s nickname for Johnny was “Magilla” because his favorite cartoon show was “Magilla Gorilla”.

    Ripper Collins was married to a lady wrestler named Barbara Baker. They would sometimes participate in “Mixed Tag Team Matches”, where Ripper and Barbara would go up against a team like Pepper Martin and Kathy Starr. If Ripper was in the ring with Pepper and he tagged in Barbara, Pepper would have to step out of the ring and let Kathy come in to wrestle against Barbara. However, Ripper would interfere whenever he could to help his team win.

  60. DIO
    September 28th, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    Good afternoon everybody!!

    Linda, did you enjoy the commentary provided by Seawalker and yours truly? :lol:

  61. LINDA KATO
    September 28th, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    DIO: Yes, very entertaining :!: :grin:

    Good evening MLCers :!: :grin:

    We just got back from walking a mile :!: It’s a start :!: Losing weight sure is hard work :!:

  62. DIO
    September 28th, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

    Linda: As I said before….all the stuff that is “good for you” is difficult: difficult to eat, difficult to do, difficult to deal with.

  63. LINDA KATO
    September 28th, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    DIO: You are so right :!: