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Johnny Powers (born Dennis Waters, March 20, 1943) is a retired Canadian professional wrestler known by his legally changed ring name Johnny Powers. He competed in several North American and International promotions including National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), American Wrestling Association (AWA), Maple Leaf Wrestling, National Wrestling Federation, International Wrestling Association and the World Wide Wrestling Federation feuding with then WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino during the early 1960s NWA's Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski and AWA's Verne Gagne.
As a sports event promoter and television producer since 1967, he has presented over 3,500 live wrestling and sports events from Singapore to New York to Trinidad. He co-founded the National Wrestling Federation (NWF). He sold the NWF to Japanese interests in 1973. Powers was the first major international syndicator of television wrestling with programs in over 27 countries.
Professional Wrestling Career
Dennis Waters was born in Hamilton, Ontario. At 15, he started training under the tutelage of Canadian light heavyweight wrestling champion Jack Wentworth. Powers had his first professional match in 1960 in Detroit at age 17 while attending McMaster University in Hamilton. He left university and became a professional wrestler, formally turning professional at age 20 in Detroit as Lord Anthony Lansdowne.
He wrestled hard core wrestler Larry Chene many times, who then mentored Powers. Powers dyed his hair blond and wrestled as Johnny Powers, the Golden Adonis, in North East U.S. and Canada in 1964. Powers wrestled six times for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship with Bruno Sammartino in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Powers turned heel and was managed by Bobby Davis, who once managed Buddy Rogers. He fought Whipper Billy Watson many times across Canada and was main event for two years in Canada's Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Powers fought NWA World Champions Lou Thesz outdoors in Hamilton ballpark and St Louis Kiel Auditorium and Gene Kiniski in Toronto ballpark and The Hamilton Forum. Powers dominated Cleveland Ohio with great battles against Johnny Valentine, The Sheik, Ernie Ladd and Abdullah the Butcher. This 'heel turn' against Ernie Ladd with Ox Baker created possibly the most dangerous riot in pro wrestling history called "The Cleveland Riot".
Powers was tutored as a wrestling promoter and television producer by international old school wrestler, booker and classic promoter Pedro Martínez. Martinez coached and mentored Powers for 20 years from the age of 22 in the art of creative event marketing of pro wrestling. Martínez and Powers founded National Sports TV on an existing "Wrestling from Buffalo Auditorium" library of black and white films. This library had been funded by one of pro wrestling first big money sponsors Dow beer.
Powers co-founded the National Wrestling Federation and sold it three years later in 1973 to New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was the NWF World Heavyweight Champion and was the star of "Championship Wrestling with Johnny Powers". He was the only wrestler then and since to have a television show named after him. He was NWF North American Champion seven times and NWF world champion three times.
Powers sold television wrestling shows and films to Japan, Mexico, the Armed Forces Network and eventually to 27 countries creating the first and largest international professional wrestling television distribution network. Martinez and Powers owned the largest professional wrestling library in the world at that time with acquisition of most of the other key US wrestling territories television libraries. Powers also, as executive producer and on air commentator, promoted and produced over 300 new hours of televised wrestling.
Powers held the first barbed wire top rope wrapped match and paid a record athletic commission fine. After watching a Barnum and Bailey circus, he produced and promoted the only three rings at a time Cleveland Stadium Super Card with 50 global stars. Powers was defeated by Antonio Inoki for the NWF World Heavyweight Championship December 10, 1973 in Tokyo. Powers, a seven time North American Open champion, defended his title in the New Japan promotion.
Powers and Pat Patterson fought as NWF North American Tag Team Champions in California and Japan. In the Los Angeles title match, Joe Louis was referee. Powers fought three main events in Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens against The Sheik, Ed Farhat.
Powers with Pedro Martínez acquired control of the International Wrestling Association (IWA) in 1975 and Powers later bought out the Martinez interest for 100% ownership in 1976.
Powers was honored in Yokohama, Japan, before a sellout crowd on September 30, 1991, that was televised nationally, as one of 18 greatest fighters, along with Japan's "God of Wrestling" one of MMA's founding fathers named Karl Gotch, Muhammad Ali, Billy Robinson who is currently an MMA superstar trainer and Lou Thesz "the King of the Shooters", to have appeared in Japanese rings. He was inducted into the Canadian Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003.
Other Business Ventures
As a sports merchandiser, Powers was physical fitness adviser on a National Sports Advisory Council in Canada, with Bobby Hull and Otto and Maria Jelinek. At the age of 22, as a principal in Pro Management Inc, a sports celebrity management firm, he developed and took sports fitness equipment nationally on a major retail store promotion campaign all the while actively competing internationally as Canadian Heavyweight Champion.
He is CEO and Chief Creative Officer of Vision Resource Group, Inc., an integrated media and entertainment company engaged in the development, production and marketing of television, pay-per-view programming, live events and the licensing and sale of branded consumer products. He heads up a creative team for combat and MMA sports called 1Fight and an online social community related to worldwide sports and fitness audience called 1FightLife. He has created a Tribal Vision initiative whose goals is to enhance the indigenous global community through media and education. He recently in 2008 co-founded The Wrestling Guild, which features back-to-basics tough-man style.
Powers, as an executive producer, has a television special and film under development. Since 2000, he has been active in a non-profit youth development program with the ancient Greek Olympic sport of pankration as its activity platform.
Powers helped to sponsor the Canadian Pankration Team and was strength coach to the World Pankration Championships in Lamia, Greece where they won eight gold metals and the overall World title.
He also has a movie project, in development, entitled The Man They Could Not Kill.
Powers, underwent knee and hip replacement surgery in May 2009. He has also been a resident in Southern Ontario since 1987.
- Finishing moves
- Powerlock (Figure four leglock)
- "The Blonde Bomber"
- "The Iron Man"
- "The Brass Knuckles Champ"
Championships and accomplishments
- International Wrestling Association
- IWA World Heavyweight Championship (6 times)
- National Wrestling Federation
- NWF Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- NWF North American Tag Team Championship
- Hall of Fames
- Canadian Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame (2003)
- New Japan Pro Wrestling's Greatest Fighter in the ring