Don Leo Jonathan
Real name: Don Heaton
An agile big man, about 6'5". Known for his incredible strength and athletic ability. Often cited as proof that big, tall wrestlers don't have to be slow and plodding in the ring. Had a career that spanned just over 30 years. Son of wrestler Brother Jonathan from the 1930s-50s. Moved to B.C. in 1963 and has lived there ever since.
Began wrestling in 1949, and challenged NWA champion Lou Thesz in Chicago in July 1950. First wrestled in Montreal in the early 1950s. Made his first Toronto appearance in 1953 and mostly worked on the undercard, except for one main event against Hans Schmidt in July. Went back to Montreal later that year.
Challenged Thesz for the title several times in the mid-1950s, including main events in St. Louis and Chicago.
Won Montreal's top title in 1955, defeating Pat O'Connor for his first reign and Yvon Robert for his second. Lost the belt to Killer Kowalski. Defeated Pepper Gomez for the Texas title in 1957 and again took on Thesz for the NWA title in Houston and Dallas.
Returned to Toronto in 1959 and received a big push, including an NWA world title shot against Pat O'Connor. Won Toronto's Canadian Open tag title with Gene Kiniski in October 1959 and held the title until the end of the year. Left the area in July 1960.
Won Omaha's version of the world title in 1961, defeating Dr. X (Bill Miller). Lost the belt to Verne Gagne later that year.
Moved to B.C. in 1963 and held the Vancouver-based Canadian tag title at least 15 times from 1964 to 1978.
Made a one-shot final appearance in Toronto in 1967, wrestling Tiger Jeet Singh in a main event. Held Vancouver's top singles title three times in the 1970s, defeating Bob Brown (1970), Gene Kiniski (1976), and John Quinn (1976-77).
Participated in one of the most famous main events in Montreal history, the "Battle of the Giants" match against Giant Jean Ferre (Andre the Giant) in May 1972. It drew 16,000 fans, paying a reported $87,000. Jonathan won by DQ when Ferre wouldn't break a choke.
Was also recognized as world champion in South Africa (1975) and Europe (1978).
"Latest wrestling sensation in the mid-west is 225 pound Don Leo Jonathan, Mormon grappler of Salt Lake City, Utah. He is a chip off the old block. His father, Brother Jonathan was a star athlete. Don, 22 years of age, stands 6'5" in height. He uses spectacular leaps and twists in his wrestling activities and follows up with body slams. Don is a handsome chap who will go far in the heavyweight division."
(From WRESTLING AS YOU LIKE IT, Nov. 20, 1954)
- 2-time International champion (Montreal), 1955
- 2-time NWA Texas champion, 1957, 1960
- Canadian tag champion (Toronto), with Gene Kiniski, 1959
- 2-time World champion (Omaha), 1961
- U.S. tag champion (Los Angeles), with Fred Blassie, 1964
- 15-time Canadian tag champion (Vancouver), 1964-78
- 2-time International tag champion (Winnipeg), 1965
- World tag champion (Vancouver), with Dominic Denucci, 1966
- IWA World tag champion (Australia), with Tony Parisi, 1969
- 3-time NWA Pacific Coast champion (Vancouver), 1970-77
- Grand Prix champion (Montreal), 1974
- EWU World Superheavyweight champion (South Africa), 1975
- CWA World champion (Austria), 1978