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Robert E. Leedy (born 1921) was a Canadian professional wrestler, better known as Ski Hi Lee. He was active for some twenty years. His name is sometimes written as Ski-Hi Lee, Sky Hi Lee, Sky-Hi Lee or Sky High Lee. The pronunciation is 'Sky High' rather than 'Skee High'. Lee was usually billed from Texas and wrestled as a cowboy. He had a 54 inch chest, 87 inch arm reach and was said to be 6'8" tall.
Professional wrestling career
Leedy began wrestling in the mid-1940s, always working as a bad guy, or Heel, because his towering presence made him easy to fear. He has been described as a "country bumpkin version of Jaws from James Bond". The name Ski Hi Lee is a play on the name of wrestler Sky Low Low, a midget wrestler who used a Native American gimmick. Lee was almost always promoted as a "special attraction" in the territories he worked.
Lee was not a very technical wrestler, resorting more to brawling and cheating than to finesse. Nevertheless he was clearly not without talent, for in 1951 he defeated Al Mills for the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship, a feat he'd repeat in 1952. Some of Lee's most memorable matches were against other big men such as Killer Kowalski, whom he wrestled in many promotions all over the United States and Canada. In the 1960s Lee went to the UK because of income tax issues, where he wrestled part-time, the physical strain on his body having become too much to allow this huge man to maintain a full career in the sport. His health eventually forced him to retire and to become hospitalized. His death soon followed.
While still working as a wrestler, Leedy also owned and operated a Dude Ranch (Rocking H in Acton, Ontario) and a restaurant just outside of his native Toronto. After retiring from the ring, Leedy had a role in theatre in Paris, apparently as a caveman. He was married to a country singer named Billie Allen Skuce and sometimes appeared on stage with her as a comic foil. They had three children: Robert, Richard and Sandra (who later changed her name to Sandy). Robert Jr. joined the Marines and Richard the Army.
Robert Sr. divorced Billy, who later married John M. Carroll, who adopted all three Leedy children. (Carroll had three boys from his own previous marriage).
The divorce was reputed to be ugly. Lee was described as "a heavy-drinking rabble-rouser", who demonstrated his toughness by allowing his back to be used on stage as a dartboard. He would also on occasion order a shot at the bar and then proceed to eat the glass in front of the patrons. It was insinuated that he cared little for the well-being of his wife or children. Others have described him as gentle and harmless.
Leedy is well remembered amongst older South Africans, because he is mentioned in a locally-famous satirical song from the sixties entitled "Ag Pleez Deddy" ("Oh Please Daddy", also known as "The Ballad of the Southern Suburbs", by Jeremy Taylor, 1961), in which reference is made to a scheduled bout between Lee and a well-known South African wrestler, Willie Liebenberg. Whether this bout really took place and, if so, who won, is moot. Lee certainly appeared in the ring in South Africa on many occasions and he also fought in Australia.
The exact date of Lee's death is not documented in the open public domain, nor is the specific cause. It has been suggested that he suffered from a form of gigantism known as acromegaly and that this shortened his life. In the late 1960s and early 1970s he worked in a pub in Pimlico. Students at the nearby Westminster Hospital were regularly told to go to the pub when he was working to observe him, as he provided a textbook case of acromegaly in terms of height and characteristic facial appearance.
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA Canadian Heavyweight Championship (Calgary version) (2 times)
- Stampede Wrestling Hall of Fame