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Wrestling legend Gene Kiniski dead at age 81

BLAINE, WASH. (NEWS1130) – Wrestling legend Gene Kiniski passed away early this morning from cancer in Blaine, Washington, with his sons Nick and Kelly by his side.  He was 81.

Kiniski–born in Edmonton in 1928–went by the nickname “Big Thunder” and referred to himself as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete”.  Many disputed that claim, but not likely to his face.  Kiniski also played football in the CFL with the Edmonton Eskimos, and turned to wrestling fulltime after suffering a knee injury playing football.

He wrestled for five decades–usually as a ‘bad guy’, before finally retiring from the ring in 1992.  

‘Dr. Sport’ Greg Douglas says over his four decade professional wrestling career, Kiniski won just about every world heavyweight championship available.  “He fought Whipper Billy Watson, and he fought Bulldog Bob Brown and one of his epic fights was against Dory Funk Junior.   He was just an absolute character.  Like his son Nick said, he would just walk into a room and take it over.”

Kiniski’s son Nick now runs Kiniski’s Reef Tavern in Point Roberts.