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Some of us may not want to admit it, but growing-up in Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s, we watched professional wrestling every Saturday. There were two main shows on Detroit TV: Motor City Wrestling on WXYZ-TV and Big Time Wrestling on CKLW-TV from Windsor, Ontario.
But, did you know that the man most responsible for putting on shows in Michigan with such famed wrestlers as Dick the Bruiser, Bobo Brazil, The Sheik and Leaping Larry Shane was Jewish?
Bert Ruby was a star soccer player as a youth, who had a 20-year career as a professional wrestler. Born Bertalan Rubinstein in Columbus, Ohio, in 1910, he moved to Detroit in the 1930s and became a wrestler. Ruby retired from the ring in 1954 and became the premier promoter of wrestling shows in Michigan. His Motor City Wrestling show aired for nearly two decades in the 1950s and 1960s.
What is a lesser-known fact is that, through wrestling shows, Ruby raised money for hundreds of charities in Metro Detroit. Ruby died in 1968 and was inducted into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
By Mike Smith, Detroit Jewish News Foundation Archivist
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.