Tony "Cannonball" Parisi
Born in Italy, moved to Thunder Bay when he was 9 years old and ended up in Niagara Falls a few years later. One of the many Italian-Canadian babyfaces that were very popular in Toronto and Montreal in the 1960s and 1970s. Began wrestling in 1961 in Detroit. Made his Maple Leaf Gardens debut in 1963 and wrestled there off-and-on until 1986.
In the WWWF, he originally wrestled as Antonio Pugliese, billed as a cousin of Bruno Sammartino. Member of several successful all-Italian tag teams. Held the WWWF tag title with Gino Brito (who was wrestling as Louis Cerdan). In 1983, the team reunited and held the International tag title in Montreal. Parisi also held that belt in 1984 with Dino Bravo. He also regularly teamed with Tony Marino and, for many years, Dominic Denucci. In the early 1980s, he teamed with Bruno Sammartino Jr. (David Sammartino).
Parisi also won the Australian version of the world tag title with Denucci, and held the same title twice with Don Leo Jonathan.
Wrestled in two Maple Leaf Gardens main events against The Sheik in 1972 and had an NWA title shot against Jack Brisco there in 1974.
Parisi bought the Niagara Family Inn motel in 1979 and also owned Big Anthony's restaurant in Niagara Falls. He ran the wrestling shows at the annual CHIN Picnic in Toronto for many years and also promoted some shows at Niagara Falls Memorial Arena. In 1997, he wrestled in Buffalo in an old-timers tag match, partnered with Brito.
Parisi died after a heart attack in 2000 at age 58.
"He has perfected two new holds which are employed as the coup de grace.
After setting his man up for the fall, Tony delivers an ax-like blow to
the neck of his victim, similar to the skullcrusher used by Johnny
Valentine. The second maneuver consists of mounting the top rope and
literally knocking the wind out of his prostrate foe with a flying leap
to the midsection."
(From WRESTLING REVUE, September 1968)
"At 29 pushing 30, this 5-11 240-pounder fears time may run out on
him before he can translate his career into a big moneymaker. "One
of these days I'm heading back to Canada and the good life in a small
town," he said. Wrestling didn't enter Tony's life until he joined
the Central YMCA in Niagara Falls."
(From WRESTLING WORLD, June 1969)
- 2-time WWWF U.S. tag champion, as Antonio Pugliese, 1966-67
- 4-time IWA World tag champion (Australia), 1968-69
- 2-time NWF World tag champion, 1972
- NWA Florida tag champion, with Dominic Denucci, 1975
- WWWF tag champion, with Louis Cerdan (Gino Brito), 1975
- 3-time International tag champion (Montreal), 1983-84