CFL Hall-of-Famer, pro wrestling star Angelo Mosca dies at 84

Originally published at CFL Hall-of-Famer, pro wrestling star Angelo Mosca dies at 84

Angelo “King Kong” Mosca, a seminal figure in Canadian sports history, has died after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mosca’s wife of 23 years, Helen, announced his passing on Saturday:

It is with great sadness that the family of Angelo Mosca announce his passing on November 6, 2021, after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s. Angelo was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather as well as friend to so many. Angelo was 84 years old. We ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this time. More details will be shared when arrangements have been made.

Mosca holds significant status in Canada as a Hall of Fame player in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a multiple-time Grey Cup winner while having a significant career within professional wrestling.

Mosca was born February 13, 1937, in Waltham, Massachusetts, and excelled in football earning a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame, where he eventually graduated with a degree in business administration while continuing to play his sport of choice.

In Greg Oliver’s obit on Mosca, he noted the struggles the future star would encounter by getting kicked out of Notre Dame and later, Wyoming, for disciplinary issues before ultimately graduating.

Mosca was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, opting to go the CFL route due to the difference in financial options between the two leagues.

His career spanned sixteen seasons that began in 1958 that began and ended in Hamilton, although spent time in between playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders and Montreal Alouettes.

He was a five-time all-star playing as a defensive tackle winning four Greys Cups in Hamilton and one in Ottawa. His final game was in 1972 where the Tiger-Cats defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the Cup.

One of the more famous rivalries in CFL history involved Mosca and quarterback Joe Kapp that stemmed from the Grey Cup game in 1963.

Mosca was accused of a dirty hit on a member of the opposing B.C. Lions that boiled throughout the game and led to lifetime rivalry with the Lions’ QB. The hatred simmered over the years, ending with an all-time viral moment when the two met on stage in 2011 during a ceremony that escalated with Mosca, 74 at the time, swinging his cane and Kapp responding with punches.

The scene was covered everything and landed the two on an episode of Dr. Phil.

Mosca’s pro wrestling roots go all the way back to 1959 and was urged by Montreal and Boston promoter Eddie Quinn to enter the industry and work around his football commitments.

In the late ‘60s, Mosca would work for Stampede Wrestling and became the promotion’s North American heavyweight champion twice while feuding with Archie “The Stomper” Gouldie. He would also team with a young “Superstar” Billy Graham as the future WWWF champion was cutting his teeth in the profession.

Mosca’s exploits took him to the AWA working for Verne Gagne, to San Francisco for Roy Shire where he won the NWA U.S. heavyweight championship from Pat Patterson in July 1975, and then to Mid-Atlantic when George Scott was booking the territory.

In Mid-Atlantic, he held the Television Championship in 1976 while programmed with Paul Jones and losing the title on his second reign to “Mr. Wrestling” Tim Woods.

Mosca would travel across the country with stints in Georgia Championship Wrestling, winning the Georgia heavyweight title in June 1978, to Championship Wrestling from Florida for Eddie Graham, and becoming its Southern heavyweight champion in May 1984.

However, it was in Toronto that many will closely tie Mosca’s pro wrestling success to. Between 1980 and 1984, he was a five-time Canadian heavyweight champion during the time that Mid-Atlantic was partnered with the Tunneys. This lasted until the World Wrestling Federation overtook Toronto with Mosca wrestling for the WWF and becoming a broadcaster for Maple Leaf Wrestling.

By 1986, the in-ring portion of his career had come to an end.

Alongside Milt Avruskin, the two attempted to get the Pro Wrestling Canada group up and running in 1987. Their high point included the first ‘MoscaMania’ event at Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum that drew a strong attendance for its first show but failed to have legs for a follow-up the next year.

Mosca’s accolades are lengthy, being inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1987, the Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. He is also a member of the Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame and was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 1996.

Over the past decade, he was public about his battle with Alzheimer’s disease and was part of the class-action lawsuit filed by Konstantine Kyros was that eventually thrown out by Judge Vanessa Bryant.

In 2011, he released a book on his life with co-author Steve Milton called ‘Tell It To My Face’.

He had been in a long-term care facility for several years prior to his passing on Saturday and leaves behind his wife, Helen, and had two children from previous marriages.

Additional reading:
Angelo Mosca Dead at 84 (Greg Oliver at SLAM! Wrestling)
Hamilton Tiger-Cats legend Angelo Mosca dead at 84 (Rick Zamperin, 900 CHML)
From Nanjo to The Sheik: Tales from Toronto Wrestling (Andrew Calvert)