The Great Yamato vs. John Paul Henning

by Michelle
(Salmon Creek)

Courtesy of Tony Borne Family

Courtesy of Tony Borne Family

What better Portland TV memories than Portland Wrestling. With Bob Lynott or Frank Bonema or later Dutch Savage in the Crow's Nest, you knew you were going to get plenty of action. Not to mention a dose of Friendly Joe Cahan.

This particular match took place in about 1957. John Paul Henning was the local good guy at the time, and The Great Yamato was a great big oriental wrestler who was new to the Pacific Northwest.

Henning comes into the ring, gives a few autographs and gets ready. Then in comes Yamato, wearing a stunning outfit and some fancy wooden shoes. The fans boo heavily......

The match starts and it becomes clear that Yamato has all the dirty moves known to man. Henning takes a beating from the beginning and injures his back to the point he can no longer stand up. On one knee he leans against the ropes in the corner. Yamato moves in for the kill.......

What happened next was expected by no one. Yamato knocks Henning part way through the ropes and jerks him back in so he can hit him again.

He does this several times and the final time, Henning grabs one of the wooden shoes that lay on the ring apron and begins pummeling Yamato unmercifully. After about 20 blows, Yamato is down and out. Henning, the winner, is carried out of the ring on a stretcher.

We all know most wrestling matches are more entertainment than reality, but this particular match had a definate aura of realism. Considering the fact that Henning was laid up for a month afterward, and Yamato was never seen again, I can't help but wonder.....

Anyone else remember this match? To me, as a 10 year old, it was unforgettable.


*TONY* What a great story, Michelle! As you may know, I'm a huge Portland Wrestling fan myself.

This was before my time, but from the mid-70s on, I was absolutely hooked on the action coming out of the Portland Sports Arena!

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Jul 11, 2011
Henning/Yamato...Further Information
by: Michelle

John Paul Henning did not leave town after his match with Yamato. He was there every week in a back brace until he recovered, doing interviews, etc. He even tried a bit of color commentary, but was bad at it.

I got to go to the matches once a month or so during that time period, and John Paul Henning was my hero. His Tag-Team partner Luigi Macera, was a fave too.

Booooo, Yamato (lol)

Mar 04, 2011
Great Story
by: Grey Kirk

Sounds like it was quite a match. However, I would suggest it was all planned.

Henning probably went back east to wrestle for awhile, similiar to my Lonnie Mayne story. Back in those days they could get away with it. The locals just thought he was "laid up" from his wounds.

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