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Don Leo Jonathan

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Don Heaton (April 29, 1931) (more commonly known as Don Leo Jonathan) is a retired American professional wrestler.

Career

Jonathan, nicknamed "The Mormon Giant" and billed from Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the greatest big men ever to compete in the sport of wrestling, having shown amazing agility for his size (such as performing backflips, standing dropkicks, cartwheels, kip-ups and somersaults over the top rope into a standing position) and capturing championships wherever he wrestled.

A second generation star (his father was former wrestler Brother Jonathan), Jonathan made his pro debut in 1949. Over the course of his career, he competed around the world, making stops in Europe, South Africa, Australia and Japan; his greatest accomplishments, however, took place in the United States and Canada, where he wrestled most often. His first championship wins occurred in Montreal with the International Wrestling Association, where he twice captured their International Heavyweight title; Montreal was also the scene of one of his greatest bouts later on, when he faced André the Giant in a September 7, 1972 match billed as the "Battle of the Giants" (André won the match by DQ).

Elsewhere in Canada, Jonathan found more success competing in Toronto's NWA affiliate Maple Leaf Wrestling (where he first teamed with Gene Kiniski to win the Canadian Open Tag Team title, in 1959) and in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he wrestled for NWA member Alex Turk Promotions (twice winning their International Tag Team title) and for the American Wrestling Association (where he won the World Tag Team title with Verne Gagne in 1967). Jonathan also got a taste of World heavyweight gold when he won the AWA-affiliated Omaha, Nebraska territory's version of the World title three times in 1961.

Canada eventually became home to Jonathan in the early 1960s as he settled in the Vancouver, British Columbia suburb of Langley. Making Vancouver his home base, he competed frequently for NWA All Star Wrestling, winning five Pacific Coast Heavyweight titles between 1970 and 1977, the NWA World Tag Team title (with Dominic Denucci) in 1966, and a record 18 Canadian Tag Team titles between 1964 and 1978, as well as challenging for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against such titleholders as Kiniski, Dory Funk, Jr. and Jack Brisco; he also engaged in feuds with Kiniski and Dutch Savage in All Star, as well as teaming with them. Late in his career, he appeared as one of the wrestlers in the 1978 Sylvester Stallone movie Paradise Alley.

Jonathan wrestled his final match, teaming with André the Giant and Roddy Piper to defeat The Sheepherders and Buddy Rose in Vancouver on March 10, 1980, before retiring from the ring that year. On November 5, 2005, he appeared at an event in Surrey, British Columbia, presented by Top Ranked Wrestling (prior to its purchase by ECCW) to be honored in a special ceremony for his contributions to the sport. On May 20, 2006, he was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York.

Significant feuds

Championships and accomplishments

  • AWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Iron Mike Mazurki Award in 2007
  • EWU World Super Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • GPW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • IWA World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
  • MWA American Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Ray Stern
  • WWA United States Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Fred Blassie
  • Other Titles
  • West Virginia Heavyweight Championship (1 time)

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