"Battman" Tony Marino Highlights A Special Hall of Fame Class In 2021
April 21, 2021
By Trapper Tom, Editor, KSWA Digest
The delivery was weeks in the making. The Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) Championship Committee worked with Cauliflower Alley Club President and CEO B. Brian Blair to present “Battman” Tony Marino with the Pittsburgh organization’s patented Hall of Fame plaque.
Days before Tony Silipini’s 90th birthday, Blair brought the Hall of Fame award to professional wrestling legend, who has been in a Tamp Bay, Florida, rehabilitation facility for some time. The presentation made the one-time Caped Crusader feel like a superhero all over again. Tony Marino becomes the first member of the KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.
Tony Silipini, 6’ and 235 pounds, worked his first professional wrestling match in his home state of New York on February 9, 1956 against Firpo Zybsko. The Madison, New York, wrested on the same card as New York legend Ilio DiPaola and “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. A regional power-lifting star at 25, Silipini defeated the veteran with a Bear Hug, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
For the next several years, Silipini wrestled regularly in New York, Ohio and out to the Midwest. In 1959, observers noted that he could one day be a world champion. He spent a lot of time wrestling for The Sheik in Detroit, but in 1966 the introduction of a television hero portrayed by Adam West would change Silipini (who had not long beforehand changed his in-ring surname to “Marino”.) On March 31, 1966, at the Cleveland Arena, “Battman” defeated Paul DeGalles in 5:15.
Battman debuted in Pittsburgh on Studio Wrestling’s September 24, 1966 broadcast in a win over Jim Grabmire. He would become a staple of weekly television broadcasts and mid-card house shows for several years (and would fight crime in the hearts of many fans to this very day).
Battman quickly became a huge deal for fans in Pittsburgh and for a while was the city’s second-favorite grappler behind the one and only Bruno Sammartino (KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2012). [For decades it has been rumored that Marino’s “Battman” was spelled with two “T’s” to stave off potential DC Comics lawsuits; however, in newspaper articles, programs, and in other publicity, Marino’s interpretation was frequently and commonly spelled in the traditional way.]
Battman spent most of his time in the Pittsburgh region, which was now owned by Sammartino. By February, 1967 Battman was routinely tagging with The Living Legend. Later he would tag with the late “Jumpin’” Johnny DeFazio (KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2014). Battman would also enter into a long feud with George “The Animal” Steele (KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2013).
The Batman TV show was cancelled in March, 1968; however, Marino continued to wear the costume for a few more years. He routinely wrestled as Marino throughout the Northeast.
On Sunday, June 24, 1973, the Rochester, NY, Democrat & Chronicle, Sunday, June 24, 1973 wrote, “Another wrestler on yesterday's program was Tony Marino, an athlete at Madison High School before turning pro wrestler. He pinned The Psycho in the first match yesterday, then dashed to the airport to leave for a match in Detroit last night. Marino is probably the highest-paid athlete in Rochester's history.”
Years after retiring, Marino relocated to Florida. In recent years, he appeared at a Greensburg, PA autograph signing with a number of other Studio Wrestling stars, including KSWA Hall of Famers Frank Durso (2008) and Bobby “Hurricane” Hunt (2011).
At KSWA FanFest/Toy Drive 2011, Tony Marino joined a number of other Pittsburgh legends for a surprise appearance. At the event, Marino helped reverse a decision that would have cost Justin Sane and Lord Zoltan (KSWA Hall of Fame, Class of 2012) the KSWA tag team championships. That was Marino’s very last appearance at an Independent Professional Wrestling event.
Through B. Brian Blair, Marino thanked the KSWA Championship Committee and Owner Bobby O for the Hall of Fame Honor.
“Battman” Tony Marino joins The Sicilians, Ace Freeman, Eddie Faieta, and KSWA Original, La Lucha in the Hall of Fame Class of 2021.