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Filmmaker Aims To Spotlight Detroit’s Pro Wrestling Past

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DETROIT (WWJ) Take that! An upcoming documentary looks to preserve Detroit’s place in pro wrestling history.

Mark Nowotarski of Hamtramck is the producer of “Battles, Bouts, and Brawls,” which takes fans back to the days of live wrestling in Detroit, where stars like Lansing native Ed Farhat, better known as The Sheik, plied their craft for eager fans.

“Every other week at the air-conditioned Cobo Arena would bring thousands of people to downtown Detroit to see whoever his opponent was, be it Lord Athol Layton, be it Haystacks Calhoun, be it Dick the Bruiser, BoBo Brazil — these things are forgotten,” Nowotarski said.

Raising money for his project through a crowd-sourcing website, Nowotarski has garnered $1,000 toward his $30,000 goal. His aim is to tell the story while the pro wrestling legends of yore are still able to tell it themselves.

Nowotarski said the grand days of wrestling happened in the 1950s through the 1990s, when villains were villains, damsels regularly got themselves into distress, and screaming crowds ate it up with a spoon.

Nowotarski, a founding member of CNN’s Detroit Bureau, feels today’s pro wrestling acts have less genuine passion compared to the era before widespread TV and cable coverage. It can’t match up the good old days, Nowotarski said.

“When you went to a wrestling event at Cobo Arena … you were literally standing-room-only, shoulder to shoulder, it wasn’t well-lit, but that was part of the lure, it was an electricity,” Nowotarski said.

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