By Trapper Tom Leturgey, Columnist
Rudy Shemuga walked into the Lawrenceville tavern with only the slight use of a cane.
That’s remarkable, actually, considering the almost 87-year-old recently spent time in the hospital from a fall. He’s accompanied by a friend, Dan Zigowski, who is carrying an envelope stuffed with programs, photos and newspaper clippings.
There are very few living professional wrestlers who can say they actually competed in the early 1950’s; Pittsburgh’s own Rudolph M. Shemuga is one of them. As “Steve Novak,” Shemuga is also one of the few living pros who can say he went toe-to-toe with the likes of The Swedish Angel, Angelo Cistoldi and “Gorgeous George,” among others. But despite that resume, chances are you’ve never heard of the grappler from Lawrenceville.
Born to Croatia’s Joseph and Fredericktown’s Susan Ulicne Shemuga, Rudy grew up in his family’s Cabinet Way home. He didn’t play football like a lot of aspiring athletes of the day.
“I was needed at the house,” Shemuga says. Rudy caught the wrestling bug in the 1940s as he and his friends routinely jumped the fence at Millvale’s Zivic Arena to watch wrestling cards.
After graduating from Schenley High School, Shemuga traveled west to California and its “original” Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. Rudy worked the second shift at Douglas Aircraft, which freed his mornings and afternoons for workouts. It was there that a wrestling promoter told him about training schools in Seattle. Young and always looking for ways to better himself, Shemuga uprooted himself again and went to the Northwest.
In the early days, someone thought Shemuga resembled Walter “Killer” Kowalski and was originally pitched as his cousin “Rudy.” That ridiculous idea never stuck, and as luck would have it, Rudy never met The Killer. In Portland, a promoter of a show at the Labor Temple asked him what his ring name was going to be, and “out of the blue,” he selected “Steve Novak.” The all-American name stayed with him … Read the Full Story HERE
The 6th Annual Mario Ferraro Sr. Memorial Tournament – Saturday, November 3, 2018
Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department – Station 265
1611 Main Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15215
call (412) 726-1762 for details