Sweet Daddy Siki wasn’t his baptized name, of course.
We think it was Reginald.
We also don’t know where or when he was born. Some say he hailed from Montgomery, Texas, a town of 621 people located to the north of Houston and hard by Dobbin and Bobville.
Believing Kingston, Jamaica sounded more mysterious than Texas for a man known as “Mr. Irresistible” in wrestling circles, Sweet Daddy used to say he was “The Women’s Pet and the Men’s Regret.”
Sweet Daddy is a popular former professional wrestler from the late 1950s to the early 1990s, an era filled with colorful characters. Unequivocally, Sweet Daddy was one of the most colorful when he climbed into the ring with his white hair and rumbling sideburns.
You had to be tough to wrestle professionally in the beginning. Television was in its infancy, and most local stations carried an hour of live wrestling.
Channel 2 in Dayton televised wrestling every Saturday night. Omar Williams was the announcer, and often the wrestlers would do and say outlandish things, as they still do to day, to engage the fans and to make the matches livelier.
Sweet Daddy wrestled against some of the best in the business, including the original Nature Boy, Buddy Rogers, Art Thomas, The Sheik — who used the Camel Clutch — and Bobo Brazil and his infamous Coco Butt. The Stomper and Sweet Daddy refined the “sleeper hold.” Flying Fred Curry used the dropkick.
Wrestlers weren’t the only celebrities during those early years. Fans sometimes became part of the show. “Bouncing Beulah” Boshers was one of Dayton’s most recognizable television personalities. She was an excitable fan who would approach the ring and shout at the wrestlers, who of course shouted back, causing complete pandemonium.
Ironically, “Bouncing Beulah” became more famous than many of the wrestlers.
Dayton was the unlikely hotbed of professional wrestling at one time. Matches were held at the Frigidaire 801 Union Hall located at 313 S. Jefferson St., just down the street from the Dayton Convention Center.
My dad spent some of his formative years in Dayton. In later life, whenever he visited his brothers or sisters in the Gem City, he liked to go downtown and patronize some of the establishments he had known as a boy.
Dad loved diners, particularly those with character like White Castle, and was particularly fond of a small diner at 327 E. Third St. called the White Tower. The White Tower was very small, seating less than 20 people.
Dad would go to the White Tower during the Great Depression where he could buy a hamburger for five cents. He enjoyed the fact that the waitresses were dressed as nurses to evoke the notion, along with the whiteness of the building, of hygienic conditions.
The White Tower was about three short blocks from the Frigidaire Union Hall. One spring day, May 22, 1971 to be exact, while my mother was shopping at Rike’s, my dad stopped at the White Tower for a snack.
He was surprised to see two large men sitting at the counter. One was Wild Bull Curry and the other was Sweet Daddy Siki. Dad said both men spoke to him when he entered, and carried on a pleasant conversation with him for a minute or two. They were in Dayton to wrestle The Stomper and Sonny King at the Union Hall.
Our son, Greg’s, generation had Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan, but few could compare to the flamboyant eccentrics in the early days of professional wrestling.
“Did you pass gas?” an announcer once asked a grinning Mr. Moto, who adamantly denied the accusation and said, “Ah, so. Ah, no” – on live TV.
Another early announcer observed, “Their kissing reminded me of two carp going for the same piece of corn,” when he watched Flying Fred Curry and his wife kissing.
Many of the old wrestlers are gone now. Sweet Daddy is an exception. He still lives in Toronto, where he hosts country music every week in a karaoke bar.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same” is as true in professional wrestling as it is in life. The villain versus the good guy scenario still exists today. The fans still get excited, and the kids still love to go to Cincinnati or Columbus to see their favorite wrestlers.
Greg was well behaved as a young boy, and his son, Jack, is well behaved, too.
I like to think their good behavior is the result of the values we instilled in them. I’ve never had to use a wrestling move on either one, but they also know if they get rowdy during one of their visits, I have a secret weapon I learned from Sweet Daddy Siki many years ago.
Greg can pin me now, but I love to use “The Sleeper” on Jack. And judging from his laughter, I think he likes it, too.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner and former Clinton County Sheriff.