Ilio DiPaolo

Ilio DiPaolo was born in Introdacqua (Abruzzi) Italy on November 8, 1926. DiPaolo left Italy in 1949 for Venezuela. While he was wrestling in Caracas, Ilio DiPaolo met Tutz Mondt, promoter of the wrestling alliance and the Madison Square Garden Arena.

Ilio DiPaolo

Ilio DiPaolo

Ilio DiPaolo signed a contract at this time to wrestle in the United States, but while he was waiting for the documents and visa, he wrestled in the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.

In August 1951, Ilio DiPaolo arrived in New York with his working visa, and within a few months he met Pedro Martinez, the promoter of the New York territory. At this time DiPaolo met his lovely wife Ethel, she was working in the office of her father, Pedro Martinez. It was love at first sight and Ethel and Ilio DiPaolo married May 22, 1952.

Ilio DiPaolo

Omelio Agramante

Ilio DiPaolo left the country in 1953 and traveled to Haiti to get papers for a permanent visa. While in Port of Prince DiPaolo talked with local promoters and challenged Omelio Agromonte who at that time was ranked in the top ten (10) in Ring Magazine in boxing. Ilio DiPaolo pinned him in the third round at Stadium Magloire with 17,000 in attendance.

DiPaolo wrestled three more times while in Port of Prince, defeating both Pontera Negra (twice) and Tarzan De Las Pampas. On May 23, 1953 Ilio DiPaolo received his visa and traveled back to New York City.

Ilio DiPaolo went on to wrestle for Frank Tunney, promoter in the Toronto territory. Ilio had great success in single matches and also in his tag team, winning the Canadian Championship with Wipper, Billy Watson, his partner. During this time Ilio DiPaolo wrestled in Montreal, Maple Leaf Gardens, Quebec City, Ottawa, Hamilton, and many other towns.
Ilio went to Minneapolis to wrestle for Vern Gagne; he was the promoter at the time, traveling extensively between Toronto and Minneapolis. It was during this period that he made his appearance in Buffalo with promoter Ed Don George.

Ilio DiPaolo again left the United States and traveled with his wife Ethel and son Dennis (16 months old) and went to Australia. He was extremely busy, and had continued success over the next four months. Returning back to the U.S. he stopped in San Francisco and teamed up with the great Leo Nomellini the West Coast Championship at the Cow Palace. Ilio and his family stayed in San Francisco for six months where their daughter Barbara was born in 1957.

Ilio DiPaoloWhen they returned to Buffalo Ilio DiPaolo decided to make it his home. Ilio continued to travel to Detroit, New York City, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Montreal, Syracuse, Hamilton and other cities continuing his success, but remaining in Buffalo to raise his family.

In 1960 son Michael was born, and in 1962 daughter Lisa. Continuing to travel, in 1963 Ilio DiPaolo went to Japan. That was a tremendous experience for Ilio and he had much success and wrestled for 40 days straight. Ilio DiPaolo won the All Asia Championship from Mr. Togo and Ricki Dozene with his partner Buddy Houston.

Returning to Toronto Ilio DiPaolo wrestled against Pat O’Conner for the World Championship and it ended in a draw. Ilio also went on to wrestle a draw with Lou Thesiz in Winnipeg, Canada for the World Title. Dick Hutton wrestled Ilio in Minneapolis; all three matches were a one hour time limit.

Back in Buffalo Ilio DiPaolo decided to start a restaurant because his ankle had been giving him trouble and it was time to start a new career. So in 1965 Ilio DiPaolo retited from professional wrestling and opened a pizzeria with just four employees. They worked hard and eventually their work paid off and they enlarged the restaurant putting much emphasis on good food and friendly service.

Ilio DiPaolo always said that the people in WNY were the best he had encountered throughout his travels worldwide. His restaurant was successful, despite being setback after a fire, and he was happy and proud to be a part of a community who made him feel like family.

Tragically in 1995 Ilio DiPaolo passed away leaving us with wonderful memories of a Great Man. He now rejoins his deceased daughter Lisa and granddaughter Tara who also tragically died in an automobile accident that occurred on October 20, 1989.

In 1996 the Ilio DiPaolo Scholarship fund was formed to honor his memory. Over $900,000 has been raised to grant scholarships to high school seniors who compete in the very tough sport of wrestling as well as local charities including Children’s Hospital, People Inc, St. Francis Football program, Hunter’s Hope and others.