Professional wrestling career
Born Mario Fornini of Italian descent, he learned wrestling at a YMCA near his home in Hoboken, New Jersey. It was the Great Depression and Fornini decided to attempt to make a living by turning professional in 1937. He began his career in New York and was given the name Angelo Savoldi by promoter Jack Pfefer. Savoldi moved on to Boston and then Puerto Rico, becoming the first American to main event in that region.
It was in the 1950s that Savoldi became a star in the Oklahoma region, as a junior heavyweight (a term for lightweight). Wrestling as a heel nicknamed The Vampire, he held the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship three times between 1958 and 1960. Another nickname he held during his career was Little Jumping Joe, after the Notre Dame fullback-turned wrestler, "Jumping Joe" Savoldi. Wrestling publications have claimed a blood relation between the two, but Joe Savoldi was wrestling under his real last name and the two are in fact unrelated.
Some of the more famous wrestlers Angelo faced during his career include Verne Gagne, Arnold Skaaland, Stu Hart, Antonino Rocca and Dory Funk, Sr. His most memorable feud was with Danny Hodge, and in one much-publicized incident in 1960, Savoldi was stabbed by an angry fan that turned out to be Danny's own father.
Savoldi finished his in-ring career with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) putting over the promotion's faces. He was also a trainer of younger wrestlers, with Jack Brisco and Hercules Ayala Cortez among them. In the 1970s Savoldi was a minority business partner in the WWWF.
In 1984 Angelo, with his sons Mario, Tom and Joseph Savoldi, established International Championship Wrestling (ICW), later International World Class Championship Wrestling (IWCCW), in the Northeastern region. Joseph was a featured wrestler for the promotion.
Angelo Savoldi received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2003, and was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004.
Championships and accomplishments
- Art Abrams Lifetime Achievement Award (2003)
- NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2011)
- Pioneer Era inductee in 2004