|Dutch Remembers Don Owen
|Every now and then there comes along an individual into an area of
these United States and leaves that area better than it was before his entrance on the
A little man, 5 ft. 9 in. in stature, a man with the tenacity of a lion, ventured onto the professional wrestling platform after the demise of his father in the late 1950s. Because of this man, the business took a giant leap forward and we will not see the likes of him again in the Pacific Northwest. His name, the legendary Don Owen, the little giant of Eugene, OR.
Hundreds - if not thousands - of your pro wrestlers today owe this man a huge debt of gratitude. Don Owen was the man who first put Pacific Northwest Wrestling on the National and International scene. Through his untiring effort and manipulation of the various talents he developed, the Northwest became THE hotbed of pro wrestling in the nation in the 1960s and 1970s. Every available man of talent wanted to work for Don because of his unique ability to bring out the best in any individual's performance. They left the area better wrestlers and better people for having been tutored by Don.
Some men won't acknowledge the fact that this man enhanced their careers, but I will, you can bet I will. Don Owen was probably the best payoff promoter the business has ever seen. He was an original. Now that he is gone, the mold has been broken. We will not see his like again in the annals of professional wrestling.
By now you are wondering how I would know all this. Well, I was his business partner during the 1970s and early 1980s. After working for Don during the 60s and watching his promotional skills intently, I learned all of his tricks of the trade. In 1972 as fate would have it, I bought the Washington territory from Sandor Kovacs. From that point, only because of Don, I became he and his brother Elton's partner. Under Don's tutelage I became the legs and manipulator of the vast territory of Washington and Oregon. Don taught me everything I knew about promoting and how to make a program work for 6-8 months down the road. The 1970s was the hottest decade in the history of Pacific Northwest wrestling. Don raised the baton and we were his living symphony orchestra.
What an honor and joy to have known this feisty, friendly man. Legends like the following owe him so very much. Namely, Lonnie Mayne, Tony Borne, The Von Steigers, Shag Thomas, Luther Lindsay, Pepper Martin, Eric Patterson, Bull Ramos, Stan Stasiak, Jimmy Snuka, Curt Hennig, The Sheepherders, Jesse Ventura, Buddy Rose, Roddy Piper, Beauregarde, Sgt. Slaughter and literaly hundreds more, too many to name. These men came into his territory fairly green and left being box office material anywhere in the nation.
Don didn't attend most of the other towns we were promoting out here as he was getting older in the 1970s and 80s, but all of his ability was passed on to me and others. He would set us on fire and then he would sit back and watch us glow. We, all, everyone of us, even those who didn't have the opportunity to know him, can thank our lucky stars that Don was on the planet while we were in the business.
New York (and practically all the territories) learned how to do run-in finishes from the Oregon and Washington territory. They learned how to bring the people back year after year to their arenas. Gene Kiniski, Sandor Kovacs, Rod Fenton, Roy Shire and Mike LaBell of the west coast wrestling syndications owe Don more than they will ever know.
So having said all of this, we raise our hearts in humble gratitude and a final salute to this writer's rendition of the finest professional wrestling promoter that has ever graced this planet: DON OWEN. May you rest in peace Don, may God keep you as you sleep, we'll see you in the morning.