Ossie Timmin's Tales of Oz

Ossie “Oz” Timmins is a former wrestler and referee who spent most of his career in the area around Nova Scotia.  He retired in 1972 and has been living in Halifax, Nova Scotia ever since.  He was first featured in issue #8 of "Whatever Happened to ...?" and wrote a column up until the day he passed away.

wRESTle In Peace: Ossie Timmins

by Scott Teal

Oswald James Timmins

Ossie passed away peacefully on March 12, 2001 in the New Halifax (Nova Scotia) Infirmary, QEII.

Ossie was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia on December 16, 1919.  He was the only child of the late William and Sophia (Coffey) Timmins.  At birth, he weighed in at 15 pounds and 4 ounces, which was a record at the time.

Ossie went to St. Patrick's High School in Halifax and played hockey and baseball.  He began attending professional wrestling shows in with his father in 1932, the year Henry Irslinger started the promotion in the Maritimes Provinces of Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island).  In 1937, he joined an amateur wrestling class at the YMCA, training under the guidance of the YMCA instructor, Fred Hayter, who was the 1935 Maritime heavyweight amateur champion and a pro referee in later years.  The combination of amateur wrestling and attending the professional matches inspired Ossie and his friends to put on wrestling matches at fair, trying to copy the style of the professional wrestlers that appeared at the Forum in Halifax.

His first professional match was in Halifax in late 1944 when he wrestle Pat Girard, a wrestler from Montreal.  When he returned to the dressing room after the match, promoter Alvin Brown asked him if he'd like to wrestle on a regular basis.  Ossie was on his way.

On the night he wrestled Pat Girard, Ossie was in the service, so he wasn't supposed to participate in professional athletics.  He remembered reading about an old-time wrestler name Frank Judson, so he used that name to hide his true identity.  After the first season, he changed his name to Tiger Timmins and also worked under the mask as the Red Secret.  After a few months, the boys were calling him Rowdy Red Timmins.

Ossie wrestled until 1955, when back problems caused him to give it up.  He continued to work in the business as a referee until 1972, at which time he retired from the ring for good.

Ossie always worked a full-time job outside of the wrestling business.  For many years, he worked for Timmins Transfer, his father's trucking company.  In 1959, he joined the Police Department of the National Harbours Board, then joined the water services and retired in 1984 as Chief Fire and Safety Officer.

During the second World War, Ossie was a member of the RCASC.

He was a former member of the Maritime Fire Chiefs and the Canadian and International Fire Chief's Association.  He was also a member of the Waegwoltic Club, the Armdale Yacht Club, and a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus & 1097 Council.  He also worked as part of the K of C group, operating the phone truck for the Missions to Seamen.

He was commissioner for wrestlnig for a N.B. promotion in the early 90s and was a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club and the Wrestling Hall of Fame in Newton, Iowa.

He is survived by his wife Doris (Woods) Timmins and several cousins.  Interment is in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

Ossie enjoyed writing articles for various American magazines and was a charter subscriber to "Whatever Happened to ...?"  He became a regular columnist for WHT in May, 1999.  His column, Tales of Oz, first appeared in issue #40 and is also featured on the 1wrestlinglegends.com website.

Ossie wrote several columns before he passed away, so his column in "Whatever Happened to ...?" will continue on for several issues.  Ossie will live on in our memories as his column will be a permanent feature on the 1wrestlinglegends website.

I will personally miss Ossie, his letters, and our frequent phone conversations.  He was a good friend to me and loved reminiscing about his time spent in the wrestling business.

Speaking Spanish

When the Cormiers were promoting here in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, they brought in the Junior Heavyweight champion for their promotion.  I can’t remember who it was, but that night, I arrived early to ref the matches.  Rudy Kay, Leo Burke, and others arrived, including the champion.

He sat down next to me and I attempted to carry on a conversation with him.  He was dark-skinned and only spoke Spanish, so I used my hands to try to communicate with him.  I asked him how he came into the territory and, of course, he didn’t understand, so I stood up and made like and aeroplane.  His face lit up and he said, "Si," and other things like that.  I asked Rudy, "How is he going to understand me in the ring when I tell him what to do?"  Rudy says, "He understands that when you count to five, he must break a hold, and he understands the count of three for a pinfall."  Etc. etc. etc.

Before going to the ring, Rudy had two of the boys go down on the floor and show the champ how the finish is to be done.  All he says is, "Si, si."  Everything goes smoothly and the match ends.  I strip off and head for the shower, when Rudy asks me a question, so I stop to talk to him.  At the same time, the champ heads for the shower and says in perfect English, "Well, another night’s work finished."  I turned around and said, "You speak English."  He said, "Yes, don’t you remember me?  I was here about ten years ago."  Then I recalled who he was.  Then Rudy says, "He flew into Moncton yesterday and during the car ride in, he asked if you, Ossie, were still around.  We told him you were refereeing."  They put this whole thing together to pull a rib on me.  He had changed a lot from when I had seen him the last time.

Bull Curry

One night in Halifax, Bull Curry and his opponent fought their way back to the dressing room and the fans crowded around the open doorway watching them fight in the room.  There was an old soda and acid fire extinguisher in the corner of the room.  If you knew Curry, you’ll remember that he would grab anything to create mayhem.  He grabbed the extinguisher with one hand on the top and the other hand underneath.  As he went to hit his opponent over the head with it, naturally he tipped it, which caused the soda and acid inside to mix with the water, and the solution began to spray out of the nozzle.  His opponent beat it out of the room, scattering fans from the doorway, who also ran from the spray.  Luckily, Bull didn’t get any on himself.  He finally put it down and, when he turned around, he had a big grin on his face.

Bull Curry told me a story once about a guy that climbed into the ring while he was wrestling, so he clocked the guy.  The guy took him to court and the judge fined him something like twenty-five dollars.  The judge said that instead of hitting the guy, Bull could have taken the guy and put a hammerlock or something on him and ejected him from the ring.  Like Bull said, though, in the heat of battle, while he's working with this other guy in the ring, the first thing he thought was "Bang" ... get rid of the guy quick.  Bull told me, "When you're in a bad situation like that, you can't take any chances with the guy.  The best thing I thought I could do was to clock him."

Bulldog Brower

One night, prior to refereeing one of Bulldog Brower's matches, in the dressing room, Bulldog mentioned to the booker, Len Hughes, "We should cut the referee, just to be different tonight."  Of course, I told him, "Hey, not me.  I don't want to wind up with scars all over my forehead."  So they dropped the matter altogether and didn't say any more.

During the match, they were battling in the corner and I got in to break them up.  Bulldog hit me with a good right hand in the forehead and down I went.  It was enough to stun me.  Before I could get up off the mat, I see blood on the mat.  "Where the heck is that coming from?"  I put my hand up to my forehead and brought it away and it was covered with blood.  He did it so easy, though, that I never felt a thing.

Afterwards, he just laughed at me and said, "I didn't hurt you, right?"  I said, "No, you didn't hurt me, but you sure cut me.  I'll be marked for life now."  I used to see these guys go around with all these scars on their forehead and I didn't like it.  I had a regular job and didn't want to be marked up too much.

Brower again.  Another time, when we were at Annapolis Valley at the Brewerick Arena, Brower beat his opponent, badly cutting him.  After the final match, three of the local yokels, feeling good probably from all the local apple juice they make right there in the valley, they came to the dressing room door and tried to walk in.  Len was there and stopped them.  He said, "You can't go in there."  They said, "We want to see that Brower.  He's not so tough.  It's all fake.  He cut the other guy.  It's not blood."  All that stuff.  Len stood there and tried to talk some sense into them.

All of a sudden, Brower springs through the door and grabs all three of them.  He really launched right into them like a big bulldozer.  He put the three of them down within a few seconds.  He had them all laid out.  They got up and left as quickly as they could.  Len said, "You shouldn't have done that."  Brower says, "They're just all-talk wise guys."  They filed a complaint and sued Brower, so Len had to get one of the best criminal lawyers in Halifax to fight the case.  He got Brower off.  I don't know whether he paid he guys off, but it didn't go to court.  Len had to pick up all the expenses for that.

There was another night when Brower went into a restaurant.  He was waiting too long for the waitress to come to the table to take his order.  He put on the act, of course.  When she came over, he said, "The hell with this!  You took too long."  He pulled the table cloth off on the floor and all the dishes and everything went smashing on the floor.  He just walked out.  Of course, they realized he was a wrestler, so they got ahold of Len Hughes.  Len had to pick up the tab for that, too.

This 'n That

Bull Montana, a hard-looking character and a top heel in Nova Scotia over the years, was a passenger in a car being driven by one of the other boys.  I wasn't there, but I was told that Bull said to the driver, "Stop at the next gas station or restaurant that we come to.  I have to take a leak."  The driver kept on driving and talking.  In the meantime, they pass a couple of gas stations and restaurants, but he doesn't stop.  Bull says, "If you don't stop, I'm going to pi— right here on the floor.  I can't hold it."  They were on one of our main highways, so the driver pulls over to the shoulder and says, "You can go here.  Just leave the door open and that will keep anyone from seeing you."  Bull did just that.  Bull had the reputation of being hung like a "roll of tarpaper" and, just as he started to urinate, the driver drove off down the highway, leaving Bull standing in the open with lots of cars driving by.  When Bull finished, he went back to the car and called the driver every curse word he could think of.  The other boys in the car got a good laugh out of it.

Years ago, Jersey Joe Walcott came to Nova Scotia to referee some wrestling matches for the promoters.  I traveled in the same car one day when he was booked in North Sydney, Cape Breton, and part of Nova Scotia.  On the way through, we stopped in a place called Antigonish for lunch.  We had no sooner seated ourselves in the restaurant when people walked up and started asking for his autograph.  He signed one for everyone who asked.  We all had steaks and I am sure that his must have been cold before he could finish it.  I later told him, "It must throw you off, not being able to eat a meal in a relaxed manner without all those people bothering you."  He told me, "Not one bit!  As long as it makes them happy."  (By the way, his daughter's birthday was that day and the owner of the restaurant allowed him to use the phone to call her in the States to wish her a happy birthday.)

As we drove through the beautiful scenery of the eastern part of Nova Scotia, Joe said, "What a beautiful place to live.  This is really God's country!"  Anyway, we had to make the local TV studio in North Sydney where Joe was to do an interview before match time.  After completing the show, as we drove away, a woman and two young children stood outside.  They apparently lived next door to the station and were waiting to see him drive out.  When they waved and hollered, "Hi, Joe!" he asked me to stop the car.  They came running over to talk with him, telling him that they had watched the show and wanted to see him in person.  He talked to them for a few moments and gave them his autograph.  You should have seen the look on their faces.  Joe was a great guy and all the boys respected him.

Speaking of North Sydney, the local TV station had a sportscaster who would interview wrestlers who were appearing in Cape Breton.  He would ask very personal questions and always tried to put himself over regarding the wrestling business.  On one particular day, I was traveling with Bull Curry and someone in Halifax had told Bull that the interviewer was a "smart" guy and to be wary.  When the guy interviewed Bull, he asked him one question ... "Who are you wrestling tonight?"  Bull took off talking and never shut up for the whole fifteen minutes.  Every time the poor announcer would try to say something, Bull would cut him off and keep right on talking.  Afterwards, he said something to Bull about it "not being a good interview" and "not enough time."  Bull told him, "The people wanted to hear what I had to say and they got it."  He stopped the guy cold.

Walking into the dressing room in Bridgewater one evening (I was refereeing at the time), I heard Little Beaver having a heated discussion with Len Hughes.  When I entered, Beaver was cursing.  As he looked up, I blessed myself because of his foul language.  He asks Len, "What's with him?"  Before Len could answer, I said, "I studied to be a priest years ago and hate to hear anyone swearing."  Looking at Len, he asked, "Is that true?"  Of course, Len followed right along with "That's right."  Beaver later asked why I hadn't become a priest, so I lied and said that I just couldn't go through with it.

It was a rainy night and the midgets were wrestling in a tag team match.  As I gave instructions at the start of the match, I told them, "Now watch the count.  If you land outside on the apron of the ring, I will make a count of ten.  If you go out of the ring onto the floor of the arena, I will give you a twenty-count and disqualify your team."  One of them said, "We'd be crazy to go outside, ref.  You know it's raining out there."  During the match, when I'd give Beaver hell in the corner for doing something wrong, he knelt down and begged for mercy with his arms flung out wide.  He said, "Father, I confess.  Please don't give me any penance."  That and other things.  I had to bite my tongue to stop laughing.  Sky Low Low really made Beaver.  I saw him years later when he came into Halifax, still working, but all crippled up.  I heard that Sky and Beaver have both passed on.

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