Edmund Charles Francis, known to fans as ‘Gentleman’ Ed Francis, grew up on the North side of Chicago during the Great Depression. In the streets where gangsters like John Dillinger, Al Capone and Dion O’ Banion lived and died, Francis emerged to become a force in Pro Wrestling’s most colorful era. As WWII and his stint as a merchant marine ended, Francis’ life as an amateur, then pro, wrestler–had just begun. Francis traveled to Japan, Australia and the UK where had the honor of performing before the Queen Mum. In his quest to be the best, Francis snatched titles from the toughest wrestling had to offer. Starting in the 1950′s, Francis battled veteran “shooters” like Lou Thesz among hundreds of others on his way to the coveted titles of Jr. Heavyweight Champion of the World, Canadian Open Heavyweight Champion, Hawaiian Heavyweight Champion, Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Champion and the Texas Heavyweight title…and that was just the beginning.
Ed Francis transformed his life-long career as master grappler into supreme promoter. As CEO of Mid Pacific Promotions in Honolulu, Hawaii, Francis capitalized on his athletic good looks and gift for glib commentary by producing and hosting Hawaii’s first wrestling television interview show: 50th State Big Time Wrestling. Francis and co-host Lord TallyHo Blears dominated the airwaves with number 1 ratings for years. Rabid fans could not get enough of the fascinating pre-match antics of the likes of Ripper Collins, Johnny Barend, Andre the Giant, The Missing Link, and the beloved Curtis Iaukea.
You would think that after a career like this, there wouldn’t be much more one man can do. But, by the mid ’70′s, Francis realized his dream of becoming a cowboy, in the pastoral community of Pleasant Hill, Oregon. There, he and his family raised cattle and settled in…for awhile. The ranching was short-lived as Francis again reinvented himself as sports agent and aviation entrepreneur–managing the Pro Football career of son Russ Francis and, yes, promoting once again.
Francis promoted air races in Oroville (CA), Hamilton Air Force Base in San Francisco, and Boulder City (NV) with co-sponsor and friend Wayne Newton. Roots were not easily put down, but Francis remained in Boulder City and was awarded a lease on Boulder City Airport. There he owned and operated an aerial tour business, delighting passengers on trips over the Grand Canyon.
Gentleman Ed Francis now resides in the Kansas heartland and is writing a book about his life and adventures during the Great Depression and his amazing anecdotes of the world of wrestling. From his connection to gangster John Dillinger, to his relationships with famed boxers (Dempsey, Marciano, Louis, and more) and movie icons–Francis has a story to tell that will take you to another time–an amazing time that history holds unique.
*For excerpts, please visit Gentleman Ed’s blog page.
To contact Ed Francis email him at: email@example.com