Monday, October 15, 2007

Prominent Ontario wrestler Don Sugai killed in an auto accident

The Argus-Observer for Oct. 16, 1952 reported that Don Sugai, 39, who gained famed across the nation participating in popular wrestling events, was killed when his car went out of control early in the morning near the Seven Mile Inn on Highway 20 in Ada County, Idaho. He was thrown from his car and crushed by the vehicle.

Born in Portland in 1913 and an all-state football player as high school student in Salem, Sugai began professional wrestling right out of high school. He and his wife, the former “Pil” Chin, opened the Oriental Café in Ontario in 1943 and then opened the East Side Café on Jan. 1, 1947.

The accident occurred on a Tuesday following his victory over Wally Tsutsumi of Honolulu in a Riverside area wrestling event the night before. He was booked for the main even in the Ontario arena the following Saturday. Promoter Ted Hager cancelled the Ontario card out of respect for Sugai.

His service were to be held at the United Presbyterian church in Ontario on a Monday afternoon with Rev. Norio Yasaki of the Community Methodist Church officiating.

(Editor’s note: Don Lynch, my father and the editor of The Argus-Observer at the time, marveled at the size of the attendance at Sugai’s funeral years later in recalling for me some of the highlights of his years at the paper. He recalled how the family had a difficult time finding a place for the service because of Sugai’s lifestyle and lack of a formal religious affiliation. When the service was finally held at the Presbyterian Church, Sugai’s friends and associates from the wrestling world flew in from across the country in order to attend.)

No comments: