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SICW Professional Wrestling Holds a Special and Historic Place in our Area

Above, Herb Simmons poses next to a Wrestling at The Chase Poster. Wrestling has been held at The Chase in St. Louis from 1959 to 1983.

By Zachary Daum

mascherald@heraldpubs.com

Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling (SICW) has dominated the Southern Illinois wrestling scene since its inception in 1975. Led by the passionate and dedicated promoter Herb Simmons, SICW has not only showcased exciting matches but has also become a custodian of the rich wrestling history in the St. Louis region.

Herb Simmons, a true wrestling aficionado, started his journey as a fan. Growing up watching wrestling at the Chase Park Plaza in St. Louis, he was captivated by the spectacle and drama that unfolded in the ring. His passion for the sport led him to become actively involved in the wrestling community, ultimately transitioning from a fan to a promoter. Simmons has also been mayor of East Carondelet, Illinois for over 30 years and is on several St. Clair County committees.

In an exclusive interview, Herb Simmons shared insights into the world of SICW and his extensive experience in the wrestling business. “I got to meet a gentleman named Larry Matysik, who lived in Belleville. He actually went to work for Sam Muchnick when he was 16 years old, writing the programs, calling news media and the results of the Friday night matches.”

He emphasized the importance of staying true to the roots of wrestling, describing SICW as an “old school wrestling” promotion. He stated that SICW strives to provide fans with the same kind of excitement and nostalgia that their parents and grandparents experienced while watching wrestling at the Chase.

Sam Muchnick was one of the founders of NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and was acting president of the organization from 1950 to 1960 and operated the St. Louis Wrestling Club. Larry Matysik is probably most well known for his commentary of Wrestling at the Chase, but was also a wrestling promoter and author and worked for the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) from 1984 to 1993.

From Left to Right, Larry Matysik, Sam Muchnick and Herb Simmons, three of the most prolific professional wrestling promoters from the St. Louis area.

Simmons takes pride in the non-profit nature of SICW, which has consistently organized fundraisers for various organizations, including churches, police departments and fire departments. The commitment to giving back to the community has not only kept SICW deeply rooted in Southern Illinois but has also contributed to the promotion’s success and popularity.

One of the hallmarks of SICW is its dedication to preserving the history of wrestling in the St. Louis region. Simmons has played a pivotal role in keeping the legacy of wrestling at the Chase alive. The promotion’s monthly shows at the Belleville Fairgrounds and TV tapings, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/@SICWWrestling, showcase not only current local talent but also classic matches featuring legends like Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, and Lou Thesz.

The SICW Classic Title stands as a symbol of the promotion’s commitment to honoring the legends of the past. The championship belt features the names of local wrestling icons, Hall of Fame inductees, creating a prestigious and unique piece of wrestling history that few if any other promotions can match.

One of the most memorable stories shared by Simmons involves witnessing a workout session between Lou Thesz and Bruiser Brody at the Belleville Fairgrounds. “So they’re in there for a couple of hours rolling around performing holds and reversals. Something that you wouldn’t think Bruiser Brody knew how to do and I’ll never forget it. Larry and I were like kids in a candy shop.”

SICW’s commitment to preserving wrestling history extends beyond the ring. Simmons has actively participated in projects such as reproducing Wrestling at the Chase videos and contributing to the PBS documentary “Head Over Heels.” These endeavors serve as a testament to Simmons’ passion for ensuring that the stories and memories of wrestling in St. Louis are passed down to future generations.

The promotion’s Fanfest II, scheduled for May 18 at the Aviator Hotel in St. Louis, promises to be a celebration of wrestling’s golden era. Featuring legendary wrestlers from the 1950s to the 1980s, including Sergeant Slaughter, The Godfather, Rip Rogers, Koko B. Ware, Cowboy Bob Orton, Teddy Long and exhibits for Tony Casta, Bruiser Brody and Andre the Giant, the event will provide fans with an opportunity to connect with their favorite wrestling icons.

There aren’t many promotions like SICW in this day and under the leadership of Herb Simmons, it stands as a beacon of tradition, nostalgia, and community engagement. As SICW continues to write new chapters in its storied history, wrestling fans can look forward to more exciting shows that pay homage to the roots of the sport while embracing the future.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous on February 2, 2024 at 7:16 am

    It’s going to be a great show May 18th at the Aviator. If your a wrestling fan you don’t want to miss it.

  2. Anonymous on February 1, 2024 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you for the great article. I know the article will assist in keeping the memories alive.

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