One of the top tag teams of the Golden Era brought together a pair of wrestlers from Buffalo, N.Y. Mark Lewin and Don Curtis teamed from 1958 to 1962 as the consummate student-teacher team. "Mark was almost a 'Greek god-like' image, and Don was the protector of him, being raw-boned, sinewy, and about 10 years older than that 'kid' from Buffalo," Don's wife Dotty recalled.
Don Beitelman started amateur wrestling at the University of Buffalo, where he was team captain in 1949-50. He gave the pro game a whirl after a workout with Lou Thesz in 1951. Buffalo promoter Ed Don George was sufficiently impressed to arrange for his travel to an AAU tournament and help him become a pro.
It was during his amateur days at Buffalo that he first ran into his future partner. Mark was the youngest of three wrestling brothers-Donn and Ted were the others-and Mark occasionally tagged along with older brother Donn to watch amateur wrestling. "[Donn] would come over to watch the matches, and one day, he actually brought this young, punk kid along. Mark was about 10 years younger than I was," Donn told historian Scott Teal in 1994. "I was 24 at the time and he was just a 14-year-old boy. Who would have ever dreamed that Mark and I would end up as teammates?"
Don Curtis-he legally changed his name after a promoter bristled at the number of vowels in "Beitelman" -worked in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia early in his career. Eddie Graham, one of the lead heels in the Capitol Sports promotion, helped him get together with Lewin. "They brought me in and we just had a great time together," Don said. Curtis and Lewin swapped the U.S. tag championship with Graham and "brother" Jerry twice in 1958. So heated were the matches that Jerry received a six-inch gash from an angry fan in Washington. D.C. after he and his brother upended Curtis and Lewin for the title in September 1958.
During their partnership, the bond between Lewin and Curtis was very strong. "I don't know of many other teams of that era that not only wrestled every night, but they literally spent almost every waking hour together, training in the YMCA," Dotty said. "We were always together from dawn to dusk, until it was time to go home."
Curtis, known as "The Buffalo Bomber," moved to Florida permanently in 1962, and Lewin followed for a few months. Together, they won the Florida version of the World title in 1963. But Lewin got into a tiff with then-promoter Eddie Graham, and wrestled singles for the rest of his career. He ended up as a big star in Australia against Killer Karl Kox, and assumed a "Maniac" Mark Lewin guise in memorable melees against The Sheik in Detroit. He wrestled into the 1980s, but has distanced himself from the business in recent years.
Curtis had a successful career in Florida and promoted shows in Jacksonville for many years. He worked for the city as the manager of the coliseum before running a real estate business for a few years. The University of Buffalo inducted him into its athletics Hall of Fame in 1980. He passed away in in 2008 at the age of eighty.
- from Greg Oliver and Steven Johnson
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams