Name: Angelo Savoldi
Year Inducted: 2004
Induction Category: Pioneer Era

Angelo Savoldi

There was a time... long, long ago... when fellows who weighed less than 200 pounds (and, sometimes, a LOT less than 200 pounds!) had equal billing on the wrestling arena marquees of the land. Welterweights (such as Jack Reynolds and Robin Reed), middleweights (such as Johnny Meyers and Gus Kallio), lightheavies ( such as Schenectady's own Pink Gardner, Hugh Nichols and LeRoy McGuirk) and, perhaps the longest-lived of these sub-heavyweight classifications, the junior heavies, attracted huge volumes of support from action-seeking mat fans

Especially for those avid customers, the name Angelo Savoldi strikes a magical chord. From his ring debut in the mid-'30s, until finally hanging up his boots nearly 35 years later, Savoldi was a box-office draw in practically every wrestling territory in North America.

Maybe his greatest notoriety came in the junior-heavy hotbed of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was a regular challenger for world championship honors between 1950 and 1960 - at first losing out to the great Verne Gagne in the semifinals of a title tourney won by Gagne in the fall of 1950, and eventually winning the coveted belt on three separate occasions from Irish Mike Clancy, Dory Funk, Sr., and Ivan the Terrible (aka Pampero Firpo).

As accomplished as Savoldi was in the ring, he became no less a force behind the scenes, both as a minority partner in the senior Vince McMahon's WWWF of the 1970s and as a founder, along with his sons Mario, Tom and Joe, of International Championship Wrestling in 1984. Gradually, over the years, it became known to fans that the family name was Fornini.

But it is as "Angelo Savoldi" that the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame salutes this singular man of the mat, now 90 years old. In recent years, his appearances at the Cauliflower Alley Club in Las Vegas have been among the more treasured visitations where fans of so-called "old school" wrestling are concerned. SavoldiÕs clarity of mind, nimbleness of wit and charming manners have earned him still more fans from younger generations who never had a chance to see him as a main-eventer.

In short, Angelo Savoldi is the epitome of dignity and accomplishment, a full-fledged gentleman, through and through.

- J Michael Kenyon

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