Domenic Denucci

Name: Domenic Denucci
Year Inducted: 2012

Domenic Denucci

Domenic Nucciarone came to Canada from Frosolone, in the Italian province of Campobasso, in 1955 at the age of 20. He settled in Montreal, where his great-uncle lived. Denucci quickly found friends at the PalaisNationale, where all the amateur wrestlers trained and professionals such as Maurice Vachon, would come by for a workout. He was approached by Yvon Robert and Tony Lanza about entering pro wrestling, and despite the fact that he really didn’t know anything about it, he began training under Lanza’s supervision.

In the early 1960s, Denucci started in the Montreal area under a hood as a villainous Masked Marvel. He later moved on to Detroit where he was teamed with the original Dino Bravo as Dominic Bravo. “We hit it off pretty well. They booked us mainly where the Italian ethnics were. We used to bring them in,” said Bravo.

Stints in Calgary, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Japan and Australia followed for the master of the airplane spin. The Roy Shire San Francisco territory was an early highlight. “I think the best thing for me was when I was in San Francisco. That was the first one, when I beat Ray Stevens for the championship, United States champion. That, to me at that time, was very exciting because I was still young,” Denucci said.

In Australia, he was a part of the initial Jim Barnett-led World Championship Wrestling crew and was a huge national star. In his column about the golden years of Australian wrestling (1964-1978), Ed Lock wrote thatDenucci was “one of the best and most popular grapplers ever to campaign in Australia.”

With his typical modesty, Denucci downplayed his stardom. “I did a good run with [Killer] Kowalski. I was over, not to say because it was a long time ago, but I was over,” said Denucci. “We did hell of a good business.”

Hitting the WWWF in late 1969, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound “Italian Sensation” rose to prominence as a tag team wrestler, holding the tag belts with partners Pat Barrett, Victor Riviera and the younger Dino Bravo (Adolfo Bresciano) from Montreal. His favorite partner? “I’m not knocking Victor because Victor was a really good worker too, but Dino Bravo, I think was my best.” His skills were well known and he was often used as a mentor, including working around the horn with a young Hulk Hogan in 1981.

In 1983, Denucci left the WWF just before its big expansion. He wrestled around the world until 1988 and organized tours in locations such as Saudi Arabia and the Philippines before retiring for good. Denucci was involved in running a wrestling school in Pittsburgh and trained former world champions Mick Foley and Shane Douglas.

- Greg Oliver

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