Legendary Promoter Johnny Powers Dead At 79
As documented by Slam, National Wrestling Federation co-founder and legendary promoter Johnny Powers passed away peacefully in his Smithville, Ontario home on December 30, 2022.
Born Dennis Waters on March 23, 1943, Powers began training at the age of 15 and had his first professional match at 17 while studying geology at McMaster University. After dropping out at age 20, he spent most of the 1960s and 1970s battling the likes of WWWF Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino, NWA Champion Lou Thesz, and NJPW’s Antonio Inoki, as well as the stars of the Buffalo territory such as The Sheik, “The Big Cat” Ernie Ladd, and Abdullah the Butcher.
While competing, he also learned how to be a promoter and television producer from international star Pedro Martinez. Together, they founded the NWF, where Powers was billed as “the star of stars.” Their TV show “Championship Wrestling With Johnny Powers” was syndicated around the world in Mexico, Japan, and on the Armed Forces Television Network along with their library that included most of the key territories in America at that time. Martinez and Powers’ reach eventually expanded to 27 more countries to show over 300 hours of televised wrestling that was produced, promoted, and even commentated on by Powers. Effectively, they created the world’s first and largest international professional wrestling television distribution network long before the WWE Network or IWTV.
After finding success in and out of the ring, Powers hung up his boots in 1982 and largely kept his distance from the wrestling industry. In 2003, he was inducted into the Canadian Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.