November 7, 2013
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist
When Pittsburgh Mayor-to-be Bill Peduto raised 10-pounds of gold over his head moments after giving his victory speech at the Homewood Coliseum on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, a roar was heard among the thousands in attendance. Flash bulbs went off in mass, and television news cameras that had were aimed in various ways were hurriedly re-pointed in his direction. When he received it, Peduto looked at the leather strap and platelets, considered putting it around his waist, but then simply raised it above his head.
Photographs and video captured the moment as Bill Peduto, longtime and fervent fan of Dominic DeNucci, lifted a trophy that read “KSWA” into the Pittsburgh night.
What was that title?
The Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) is Pittsburgh’s only professional wrestling organization and he held its heavyweight championship—the most prestigious title in the Commonwealth. In fact, Peduto helped legitimize that distinction.
Since January 1, 2000 the KSWA has been a sought-after commodity. The KSWA was a business venture created by Louie Syxmunki, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of Syxmunki Sports Entertainment. The promotion’s first event was held at Peabody High School, which is less than two miles from the Homewood Coliseum, and Tom Murphy was Mayor. Peduto took his District 8 City Council seat, which represents Bloomfield, Friendship, Oakland, Point Breeze, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, in 2001.
The KSWA would soon settle into the Bloomfield neighborhood and its VFW, which were 4.08 miles from the Coliseum. The promotion would operate events more regularly before finding a new home at what is now called the KSWA Arena in Lawrenceville—5.66 miles away—on August 14, 2004.
In late 2005, Syxmunki, who had sold a portion of company to local sports entrepreneur Bobby O, divested all of the company to his partner.
In 2006, the year Bob O’Connor took office (besting Peduto among others), the promotion started to take off, with cover stories in The Front newsweekly and then the Pittsburgh City Paper. Interest helped lead up to a huge FanFest event that December. A record number of fans donated toys for the Allegheny County Holiday Project on December 2, 2006, which provides needy toys for kids throughout the region.
Sadly, on September 1, 2006 O’Connor would pass away following a fast-moving bout with cancer. Luke Ravensthal would assume the Mayor’s office shortly thereafter.
Peduto would become influential in the organization a few years later. On March 27, 2010 he stepped into the ring at the Arena to proclaim that date “KSWA Day in the City of Pittsburgh.” A contingency—including DeNucci—would arrive at Pittsburgh City Council chambers a few days later to officially receive the award.
On December 3, 2011 a “roast” and charitable lunch benefitting the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, New York and honoring DeNucci was scheduled for the Doubletree Hotel in Greentree. Although not an official KSWA event, Peduto was there to honor DeNucci with his own “Day” in the city of Pittsburgh. Both Peduto and DeNucci became emotional during those proceedings. DeNucci wrestled during Pittsburgh’s famed “Studio Wrestling” era and remains a close, personal friend of Bruno Sammartino.
Several months later on March 20, 2012, Peduto officially returned to the KSWA ring to honor “Lord Zoltan” Ken Jugan with a proclamation dated that day. Jugan, who has wrestled locally and internationally since not long after the shuddering of Studio Wrestling, was award for his entertainment prowess and philanthropic activities, particularly the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf.
On August 17, 2013, Peduto sat down with George “The Animal” Steele who visited the KSWA. Peduto tweeted that he talked “Municipal Finance” with the Hall of Famer.
Peduto, who also counts himself as an avid hockey player and fan, grew up watching DeNucci, Sammartino and others with his Italian American family. It was only appropriate then that the hold up the Commonwealth’s most significant wrestling title high into the sky on the day he was proclaimed Pittsburgh’s champion.