Baron Mikel Scicluna, Eugene Palermo First Names For 2016 KSWA Hall of Fame
March 3, 2016
by Trapper Tom, Ring Announcer/Wrestling Journalist
The Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) will once again honor Pittsburgh's history in Professional Wrestling on Saturday, March 26 at the Teamster Temple in Lawrenceville. The KSWA Pittsburgh Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony will take place as part of the Joe Abby Memorial Night.
The first name announced (albeit posthumously) for the Class of 2016 is "Studio Wrestling" mainstay, Baron Mikel Scicluna. Scicluna, who started wrestling in 1953 in Canada, was truly a native of the Isle of Malta, as his introductions would suggest. It was there that he wrestled as Mike Valentino. But it wasn't until he moved to the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in 1965 that he became the "Baron."
Scicluna became one of the most infamous wrestlers of his time. Billed as 6'4" and 275 pounds and with a size 16 boot (according to "Chilly" Bill Cardille, KSWA HOF Class of 2014), Scicluna used his size, strength (and a trademark foreign object) to gain many victories over the years. In 1968 he won the IWA World Heavyweight Championship in Australia. He also held the IWA World Tag Team belts with Ciclone Negro the same year.
He also held the WWWF Tag Team Championships on two ocassions: with Smasher Sloan and then with King Curtis Iaukea in the mid 1960's.
Scicluna had two chances at WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino's World Title. Once Scicluna was disqualified; in the other he was pinned by The Champion (KSWA HOF Class of 2012). Both matches took place in Madison Square Garden. The two also wrestled again in 1974 with Sammartino once again winning in his second title run.
Scicluna wrestled over the years many times against Sammartino, Dominic DeNucci (KSWA HOF Class of 2010), Bobby "Hurricane" Hunt (KSWA HOF Class of 2011), and Jumpin' Johnny DeFazio (KSWA HOF Class of 2013).
Scicluna had many tag team partners over the years, but none as dangerous as George "The Animal" Steele (KSWA HOF Class of 2013).
Throughout the 60's and early 70's, Scicluna was one of the most infamous villains in the history of Pittsburgh's "Studio Wrestling."
Scicluna was involved in one of the most infamous moments in all of sports in the 1970's. He was wrestling Gorilla Monsoon when he was chopped over the top rope and to the feet of boxing champion Muhammad Ali. Ali stood up from his ringside seat, removed his shirt and entered the ring to face Monsoon. Scicluna took that opportunity to leave the contest with a wave and march to the dressing room.
He officially retired from wrestling in 1983 and moved from New York to Ross Township in Pittsburgh's North Hills. In 2006, Scicluna was on hand during "Superstar" Billy Graham's book signing in Monroeville. Graham went out of his way to say hello to his old friend.
In 2009, Scicluna was at an autograph signing at the Westmoreland County Mall, along with Sammartino, Cardille, DeFazio and Frank Durso (KSWA HOF, first Class, 2008).
Scicluna died after a battle with cancer on March 10, 2010 at the age of 80.
The KSWA Championship Committee also announced that in reverence to Baron Mikel Scicluna's close association to Pittsburgh's "Studio Wrestling"--and one of its most popular announcers--former Pittsburgh Pirate Pie Traynor, former Pirate Announcer Lanny Frattare will make the induction.
It was also announced that Eugene Palermo, the son of Studio Wrestling referee Bucky Palermo (KSWA HOF Class of 2013) will join the Hall of Fame. Eugene Palermo was a regular at Pittsburgh-area wrestling events. Primarily known for years as a "runner"--someone who would take wrestler's belongings back to the locker room after their introductions--Eugene Palermo becomes the first inductee with Down Syndrome.
Eugene Palermo also becomes the first "second generation" KSWA Hall of Famer. Eugene's father Bucky was one of the most revered referees in both boxing and wrestling. The father and son remain friendly fixtures in and around the Lawrenceville neighborhood within the city of Pittsburgh, even after Bucky officially retired as a shoemaker and repair specialist.
The KSWA Championship Committee is teasing more names. Fans are encouraged to come to the event to find out more.
The KSWA's Joe Abby (KSWA HOF 2008) Memorial Night is set for Saturday, March 26 at the Teamster Temple in Pittsburgh.