done By Slam
REAL NAME: Tony Kozina 5'6", 168 pounds
"Tornado" Tony Kozina is a
whirlwind of a wrestler for someone who's only been competing in the sport
for two years.
The current NWA Pacific Northwest
Jr. Heavyweight champion has been turning heads in Extreme Canadian Championship
Wrestling (ECCW), an NWA-affiliated promotion based out of British Columbia
which will be running a full-time schedule this fall as they plan to expand
into Oregon and Washington.
Kozina will also be venturing
to Manitoba for a three-day tour this weekend, as he'll be wrestling NWA
Canadian Jr. Heavyweight Champion Robbie Royce on June 26th in Winnipeg
for promoter Ernie Todd's NWA Canadian Wrestling Federation. Many expect
the youngster to capture the NWA Canadian Jr. Heavyweight title.
On the way back to B.C., Kozina
will be making stops for Can-Am Wrestling in Grand Prairie, Alberta and
Stampede Wrestling in Calgary.
This windstorm of a schedule
is typical for Kozina. He has worked hard to prove the critics, who told
him he was too small to make it as a pro wrestler, wrong.
"I go started in wrestling
through Billy Jack Haynes," Kozina told SLAM! Wrestling. "He had a radio
show in Portland, Oregon and I told him how WCW's Power Plant had told
me to bulk up before I start training. He told me he was starting a wrestling
school and that he
would teach me."
Kozina, who stands 5'6" and
weighs a mere 168 pounds, has had to rely on his undaunted determination,
as well as the help of several veterans, to make it where he is today.
"After training with Billy
Jack, I refereed for three months for Sandy Barr's Championship Wrestling
USA in Vancouver, Washington. I always brought along my wrestling gear
hoping for a chance to wrestle," said Kozina.
"One night they were short
a man and needed someone to fill in," recalled Kozina. "Booker Matt Borne
(the original Doink) looked at me and asked if I was ready and I said
From there, Kozina worked on
the independent circuit, travelling up and down the West Coast of Canada
and the U.S. He gained invaluable experience in the Mexican-wrestling
style, working for a Lucha Libre promotion based in Los Angeles as well
as working a four-day tour for Rey Misterio Sr's ProMell promotion when
they toured Oregon last year.
"Misterio saw one of my matches
live and liked what he saw and booked me on his shows," stated Kozina.
Adapting to the Lucha Libre style was not a problem for Kozina.
"I fell right in," said Kozina.
"The Lucha style is a lot more acrobatic. There are more flying around
and more interesting moves. I wrestle a similar style so it came naturally
to me. Once I got past the language barrier, it was no problem at all."
Kozina credits several veterans
of the sport for helping him along in his career.
"Every dressing room I've walked
into has been fantastic," stated Kozina. "There's always been a veteran
that's helped me along and taken me under their wing. Guys like Borne,
Haynes and Michelle Starr have all helped a lot and I've sucked up everything
they've told me like a sponge."
Kozina cites matches with veterans
like Col. DeBeers, Ole Olson and Buddy Wayne as career hi-lights.
"I wrestled Matt Borne in some
tag matches which was great," remembered Kozina.
As far as future plans go,
Kozina will be splitting his time between ECCW and several other promotions
along the West Coast.
"I've contacted and sent my
photos to World Power Wrestling, a Lucha promotion in Anaheim, California
as well as to promoter Benjamin Mora in Tijuana, Mexico," said Kozina.
"Someday I'd love to go to Mexico or Japan. I don't think the WWF would
be the place for me because they don't have a light heavyweight division."
By JOHN MOLINARO, SLAM! Sports