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Walter "Killer" Kowalski Obituary

EVERETT, Mass. (AP) - Pro wrestling pioneer Walter "Killer" Kowalski died Saturday from the effects of a massive heart attack. He was 81.

Kowalski died at Whidden Hospital in Everett, 12 days after his family decided to take him off life support. He had been in critical condition in the hospital since his heart attack on Aug. 8, his wife Theresa Kowalski said.

An obituary posted at Weir Mac Cuish Family Funeral Home's Web site said Kowalski began his professional career in 1947 as "Tarzan" Kowalski. His hulking 6-foot-7, 275 pound frame and a brutal wrestling style soon earned him a nickname "Killer."

Kowalski began to be known as a villain after hurting Yukon Eric during a match in Montreal in 1954.

He visited his opponent in the hospital after the match to check up on him and "the two men began laughing at how silly Eric's bandages looked. The reporter incorrectly printed that Killer was laughing at his victim and soon after, Killer quickly became wrestling's most renowned 'heel' or 'villain,'" according to the Web site.

Kowalski retired in 1977, a year after he and Big John Studd captured the WWF World Wrestling Tag Team Championship as members of "The Executioners" team.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press

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