Legendary NWA Star Don Leo Jonathan Passes Away at 87

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Don Leo Jonathan, a mountain of a man who dominated the NWA territories – particularly in Canada – from the 1950’s to the 1980s’, has passed away following a lengthy stay in a Vancouver hospital, at the age of 87.

A second generation wrestler, Don Leo Jonathan was the son of Father Jonathan (aka Don Delaun), a early wrestling star in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Don Leo Jonathan made his own debut in 1949 at the age of 18, trained by his journeyman father. He spent the bulk of the 1950’s traversing through NWA territories and in the 1960’s, began to work for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA) as well.

In 1964, he began to add Canada to his schedule, working for Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling (then known as Big Time Wrestling) on a regular basis. At 6’6″ and around 300 lbs, Don Leo Jonathan was a monster for the time and was routinely a main event heel in multiple areas. In the mid-60’s, he relocated to Canada full time, living in Langley, British Columbia, where he became one of the predominant stars with Vancouver’s All Star Wrestling (ASW), Gene Kiniski’s NWA affiliate. He would also work for the NWA’s Oregan territory, Pacific Northwest Wrestling (PNW).

In the early 1970s, he would have brief runs with the WWE (then the WWWF), as an antagonist to then WWE World Champion Pedro Morales and later to a returning Bruno Sammartino. Throughout his career, he faced many of the legends of various eras, before retiring in 1980.

 

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