Old School Flashback: Utah’s Don Leo Jonathan Tames a Tiger

by Daniel Johnson

oldschoolflashbacklogoDon Leo Jonathan vs. Tiger Jack Moore

Utah has never been considered much of a hotbed for pro wrestling. Although some talented individuals wrestle out of Utah, such as friend of The Johnson Transcript, Adan Reyes, old school legends to come out of this area are few and far between. Yet, “The Giant Mormon” Don Leo Jonathan, not only had one of the most awesome wrestling nicknames ever, but represented Salt Lake City, Utah in such far away places as Chicago in Fred Kohler’s NWA territory.

On October 22, 1954 Jonathan wrestled Tiger Jack Moore in front of a hot crowd at the Chicago International Amphitheatre. The performance has been gracefully preserved by Chicago Film Archives through the Russ and Sylvia Davis Collection, 1932-1970. Speaking of Russ Davis, as the commentator for this clip he marvels at Jonathan’s size saying, “One thing is for sure, he saved money on haircuts, but 280 lbs. Woo! he is a whopper.”

Jonathan was a heck of a colorful character, who sometimes resembled Wolverine from X-Men. For more information about him outside of his wrestling career check him out via his Wikipedia page or his entry on the Internet Movie Database.

As for this showing, despite Moore being no shrimp at 220 lbs, Jonathan looks true to his name and Mormonism by legitimately looking like a giant Mormon next to this lighter fellow.

Davis also points out that Moore was far from a rookie in this clip. “Old Tiger’s been around for a long time,” Davis said, “As a matter of fact he’s getting a little grey headed.” Older gentleman or not, Jonathan appears to care very little as he tosses him into a corner and goes to work. Regardless of the size advantage, Jonathan cheats here and there throughout such as by pulling Moore down by the trunks.

Although the focus of the bout is clearly on showing off Jonathan’s power, this is not a squash match. Moore uses some offense that future MMA upstart CM Punk would one day have in his skill set, and wallops Jonathan with some knees to the face. Yet, for as much as Jonathan could take it, he could dish it out even more viciously and demonstrates this by landing some much scarier knees. Although folks like New Jack, John Danzig, and MASADA were not even alive when this clip was filmed, some of these moves look just as harsh as anything they’ve ever pulled off.

For the finish Jonathan pushes Moore’s back forward with his legs then wrenches back Moore’s neck and left leg for a bow and arrow hold. Moore quickly submits.

The full match can be seen right here:

For more in the Old School Flashback series featuring wrestlers from beyond the state of Utah click here and here.


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