Fans, friends and family of legendary wrestler Gene Kiniski will gather this summer to share stories and memorabilia from his tremendous life, recently captured in a new biography by Steven Verrier.
Verrier will be speaking and reading from the new biography, as well as signing copies of the book, on Sunday, July 7 at Kiniskis Reef Tavern in Point Roberts beginning at 5 p.m.
I had no idea what a complex character Gene Kiniski was and what an impact he had on so many people, said Verrier, whose book Gene Kiniski: Canadian Wrestling Legend was released in January. I aimed to tell the story of Kiniski, his complexities, his era and his setting in a way that satisfies a broad readership. Kiniski was much more than a wrestler, and his biography aims to be much more than a wrestling book.
Kiniskis accomplishments in the ring and signature style were loved by generations of wrestling fans who remember him as Canadas Greatest Athlete. He was a leading wrestler for a quarter century, with three years as National Wrestling Alliance champion. He was also the co-owner of a wrestling promotion company in B.C.
Kiniski also played professional football with the Edmonton Eskimos and had a few stints on the silver screen, most notably in the cult classic Terminal City Ricochet.
Verriers book draws from interviews with people who knew Kiniski in and out of the ring, including his sons Kelly and Nick Kiniski, and his many friends who knew him from his retirement years in Blaine and Point Roberts. I joke with Steve he knew my dad better than I did, Nick Kiniski said.
Nick Kiniski has always been the owner of Kiniskis Reef Tavern where the July 7 event will be taking place. A lot of people thought Gene was the owner because he was such a visible presence there, said Verrier. Until his passing in 2010, Gene Kiniski was active at Kiniskis Reef Tavern, bartending and helping out. He enjoyed getting out and meeting people, said Verrier.
According to Verrier, Gene Kiniski also had a deep connection to Blaine, settling in Blaine in the late sixties. Although he would cross the border almost daily to do his work, Blaine was his home, said Verrier. From the late sixties until he passed away in 2010, his home was Blaine, although people often associated him with the Canadian side of the border.
The family built a house in Blaine in the early 1970s, and Gene Kiniski made many friends in town by offering people support when they needed it. He made a lot of friends here and influenced a lot of people, said Verrier.
Nick and Kelly Kiniski will MC the July 7 event with James Cybulski from Sportsnet 650AM Vancouver and will be sharing stories as well as family memorabilia never seen by the general public. Kiniskis Reef Tavern is open to all ages and food and beverages are available. Admission to the event is free.
Verrier said that he is trying to put together a similar event for Blaine, but the plans are not yet finalized. Thats really a place where wed like to have an event, he said, adding that he will also be visiting Alberta this summer to discuss his new book.