Date: December 8, 1951
Location: Penssylvania Turnpike gas station in Irwin, PA
Source: Associated Press, UP Newswire, Armpit reader Bob
Bret Hart was not the first wrestler to punch a promoter when he decked Vince McMahon after the Survivor Series in 1997. Tony Galento did the same thing to Bill Johnson some 46 years earlier.
“Two Ton” Tony Galento was a famous boxer from the 1930s from Orange, NJ, nicknamed that because he was once late for a show and told the promoter he was busy carrying “two tons” of ice to deliver on his way there. His most famous fight was against Joe Louis in 1939, in which he knocked down the boxing legend before losing in the end.
Galento’s colorful persona made him a natural for pro wrestling, which he participated in for much of the 1940s. On December 7, 1951, he was booked for a match at the legendary Speney’s Palisades in McKeesport, PA. As this was decades ago, we’ve not been able to find a record of whom his opponent was, but Galento made headlines the following day.
Galento confronted the promoter of the show, Bill Johnson, at a gas station in Irwin, PA the next day. The who had an argument over the payoff, which resulted in Galento popping Johnson in the mouth. Johnson got four teeth knocked out, and he filed assault and battery charges and had Galento arrested. At the time, Galento was 41 years old and owned a saloon. He was held in Westmoreland County Jail for nine hours before his hearing.
Johnson later dropped the charges when Galento agreed to pay him $250 for the hospital bill and false teeth.
The story is eerily similar to the Jacques Rougeau vs Dynamite Kid backstage fight. In that altercation, Kid also had his four front teeth knocked out. Similarly, Dynamite agreed to let it go only if Jacques paid for his dental bill, which Kid said he did but Jacques and Raymond claim they did not.