J Michael Kenyon, who some say is the father of all pro wrestling historians, passed away over the past few days, although word of his passing didn't come out until late Saturday night when it broke in the Seattle media as he was a well-known local figure.
Kenyon (born Michael Glover) was 73, and was the actual living embodiment of the fictitious Matt Brock character from the Bill Apter mags in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. He described his life during his youth as spending 12 hours a day as a reporter and spending 12 hours a day at the bar.
He was also a unique sportswriting and broadcasting legend in Seattle who I first became acquainted with in the early 70s when we were both doing wrestling newsletters.
His death was not unexpected as he had been suffering from congestive heart failure for at least ten years. After the death of Wilt Chamberlain, his favorite figure in sports, his goal in life when suffering from heart problems and cancer more than a decade ago when was simply to outlive Wilt, who passed away at 63.
The J Michael Kenyon name came from his second wife, a dancer he met while on the road with the Seattle SuperSonics, who told him Glover sounded like a boring name. One day he was driving along the road and saw the Kenyon Printing Company and took that as his last name, and came
up with the J, but never with a period as would be the case in that era.
At one point around 1974, he asked me if we could do a newsletter together because his regular sports work made covering wrestling as detailed as he would like difficult. At the time his goal was to be able to do the impossible task of compiling results of every single pro wrestling event in the world and was very much into who guys that had switched names, their real names, and compiling record books of every leading star.
As it turned out, he lost interest in furthering that within a few months, and would disappear and return to covering wrestling over the years. His interest in modern wrestling ended decades ago but as he grew older, he got more and more interested in researching wrestling and published numerous articles.
He frequently changed what he wanted to do. He quit the Seattle Post-Intelligencer four different times and quit many of his radio talk show gigs, including once in the middle of a show after not liking a comment by the station manager. He was married at least six times.
Because of his background in promoting events, he had a combination of insider knowledge, trivial and historical knowledge of pro wrestling, and an understanding of the business as it one was like nobody of his era.
Over the past 40+ years, I'd hear from him at times as he'd get the bug about pro wrestling, usually fascinated by its history, and then he would disappear again. But, he was a passionate voter for the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame.
In 2010, he was awarded the James C. Melby award for his work covering wrestling by the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame.
Kenyon's writings were put together as the WAWLI papers, short for "Wrestling As We Liked It".
After graduating college, his fascination with wrestling promotion led him to promote hydroplanes, auto racing, rodeo, football, basketball, and croquet.
He was childhood friends with Dean Silverstone, a wrestling publicist who, for a few years, ran a wrestling territory in Washington and is a key player today in the Cauliflower Alley Club. The two promoted their first show in Port Angeles, WA, in 1966. Kenyon was a key character in Silverstone's tremendous book, "I Ain't No Pig Farmer", about his life as a wrestling fan and one of the best books ever about the life of promoting an full-time independent promotion.
In 1967, he started as the beat writer for the SuperSonics for the Post-Intelligencer. He became the market's second sports talk host on KVI radio, and also worked at times for countless newspapers in the state of Washington, bouncing from place to place, as well as a stint with the Baltimore Sun.