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Provided by J Michael Kenyon through WRESTLING AS WE LIKED IT.

by Bob Broeg

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Monday, August 28, 1995

   When Sam Muchnick's kids got around to honoring the old man the other night on his 90th birthday, they got a confirmation from a young man whose RSVP was most impressive. Hideaki Myaki came from Japan -- at his expense.

   Ichiban Myaki, a polite young entrepreneur, reflects the personal gate ttraction of Sam the Man.

   The latter is a jelly-bellied legend who ranks as one of my heroes. He's still romantic enough -- or stupid enough -- to wish that he'd never had to give up a humdrum financial existence as a sportswriter for riches as an outstanding wrestling promoter.

   Muchnick's old newspaper, the Times, went out of business back in 1932 when it was bought by the rival Star. When the paper folded on a Thursday, Sam and his associates didn't get paid for the week's last two days.

   Sam loved his six-season stint as a baseball writer most, but he also wrote a boxing-wrestling column called "In the Ring."

   At the no-gifts party the other night, which was crafted by daughter Kathy for nearly 300 at the Ritz-Carlton, attorney friend Godfrey Padberg and Judge Joe Simione surprised Muchnick privately by giving him a photocopy of his first story in 1926 and his last in '32.

   When Muchnick graduated from good-natured wrestling public-relations lackey to promoter after World War II, aided by dear late wife Helen, he became a paragon of what hustling national colleagues didn't have. That is, trust in each other.

   For the next quarter-century, the National Wrestling Alliance burgeoned only because of the internationally respected man of integrity. That's an amusing juxtaposition, in view of the fact that wrestling even then had showmanship that often made it merely an exhibition rather than a legitimate contest.

   Three times the shogun of American wrestling traveled to Japan for the good of the NWA. The third time, he wanted to meet a Japanese kid who had become his pen pal. All he could tell his television hosts in Tokyo was the boy lived in Osaka.

   Japanese TV did the rest. When Muchnick got to Osaka, young Myaki met him. No, he hadn't heard the message, but a cousin at Okinawa had.

   So dear Hidaeki was at ringside for a grinning greeting. And, as mentioned, he flew here 21 years later to honor a man who has more friends than just about any I've ever met.

   Old friends and former champions Lou Thesz and Gene Kiniski came to honor him this time, but I'm sure many others would have. The man is, if you'll pardon the expression, all wool and a yard wide.

   Over the years, I've spent as much time teasing Sam the Man as praising him. I ribbed him about looking like a Soviet spy when he wore a homburg, and even sent him a tyrolean hat from Austria.

   As I said the other night, proud to be given the chance many would have liked, I came not to praise Muchnick or to bury him, either, but to tease him.

   Yet I couldn't resist expressing my love for the old patron saint of the press box, a prince of a person, a man of all seasons with friends ranging from priests to rabbis, hoodlums to heroes, jockeys to judges.

   When the Missouri state legislature recently honored him by resolution, one of the several "whereas" ranged his "associates" from Al Capone to Mae West, from Frank Lane -- whom he'd once beat in a handball match -- to the president he knew personally, Harry S Truman.

   Of all the good things about the grand gaffer of grunt-and- groan -- he hates that label even as much as he does modern mat histrionics -- the greatest is his legacy from dear Helen.

   He has two sons he didn't want to become promoters -- Dick, the doctor, and Danny, the certified public accountant -- and that dashing daughter -- Kathy Muchnick Schneider, who can write as well as the old man.

   After young Kate put together that shiny shindig, for which the doctor and the CPA honored her, Sam the Man Muchnick acknowledged a mistake. "Kathy wanted to be a promoter," Sam the Man said. "I should have let her."

   See, as I always insist, Sam, you're only a chauvinistic pig.

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