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Ion Croitoru

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Ion Croitoru
Birth name Ion William Croitoru
Born (1963-12-07)December 7, 1963[1]
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada[1]
Died February 21, 2017(2017-02-21) (aged 53)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Children 3
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Bruiser Bedlam[1]
Johnny K-9[1]
Taras Bulba[1]
Orhan Turgedan, The Terrible Turk[1]
The Mysterian[1]
Billed height 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)[1]
Billed weight 300 lb (140 kg)[1]
Billed from Hamilton, Ontario[2]
Romania (WWF)
Trained by Nick DeCarlo[3]
Vic Rossitini[3]
Debut 1984[3]
Retired 1998

Ion William Croitoru (December 7, 1963 – February 21, 2017)[1] was a Canadian professional wrestler. He was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. To wrestling fans, Croitoru is better known by his ring names, Johnny K-9, Bruiser Bedlam, and Taras Bulba. He competed in several Canadian wrestling promotions, including Stampede Wrestling, and later wrestled for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). He wrestled as a jobber in the WWF, but he was booked to win titles in several other promotions.

Croitoru was also known for his history of legal problems. He was a member of Satan's Choice, a biker gang. He was convicted of assault, trafficking cocaine and bombing a police station. In 2005, Croitoru was arrested for the murder of lawyer Lynn Gilbank and her husband Fred. After a lengthy investigation, the charges were dropped in June 2006 because of insufficient evidence. He worked as a security guard in Vancouver, British Columbia, until being arrested in May 2009 for conspiracy to commit murder. On January 24, 2011, Croitoru was charged with first degree murder in connection with the 2008 killing of Jonathan Barber in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Professional wrestling career

Early career

Croitoru trained with Nick DeCarlo and Vic Rossitini before debuting in Stampede Wrestling in 1984.[1][3] Bruce Hart gave Croitoru the ring name Orhan Turgedan, The Terrible Turk, a name Croitoru only wrestled under for a short time after leaving the promotion.[1] He continued to wrestle in Canadian independent promotions, such as Grand Prix Wrestling in the Maritimes and Superstars of Wrestling in Windsor, Ontario.[1]

In 1985 Croitoru wrestled for the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he received a push and was given a reign as AWA Southern Heavyweight champion. He defeated Jerry Lawler to win the belt on August 16, but dropped it back to Lawler in a rematch on September 6.[4] The following month, Croitoru joined the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as Johnny K-9, where he competed until 1989. Croitoru claimed that he decided on this name while being arrested after a fight. He saw "K-9" written on a paddywagon and decided on the ring name.[1] He worked as a jobber to the stars, putting over such wrestlers as Pedro Morales, Tito Santana and Paul Orndorff.[5][6][7][8] He wrestled in many tag team matches and formed a short-lived team with Barry O in 1986,[6] but his biggest match in the WWF was a televised match against Hulk Hogan.[2] After leaving the WWF, he wrestled on a tour of Japan for New Japan Pro Wrestling;[1] he later returned to Japan to compete for Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling and Wrestle Association R.[1] In the late 1980s, Croitoru also worked as a promoter along with Mike Kelly and Bob Clarke, operating the short-lived Canadian International Championship Wrestling in Hamilton, Ontario.[1][2]

Smoky Mountain Wrestling

Croitoru joined Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) in 1994, where he was given the ring name Bruiser Bedlam. According to the storyline, he was brought in by manager Jim Cornette to help settle Cornette's feud with Bob Armstrong.[9] Bedlam and Cornette combined for a victory in a two-on-one handicap match over Armstrong at SMW's Blue Grass Brawl II show on April 1.[10] That year, he wrestled many tag team and six-man matches while teaming with Cornette.[11][12]

Bedlam was booked for one title reign with the SMW Beat the Champ Television Championship during his stint in SMW. The kayfabe rules behind the title state that any wrestler winning five consecutive matches as champion would win $5,000 but be forced to vacate the title.[13] He won a match against Mike Furnas on April 4, 1994 to win the title, and he defended it over the following month.[14] Bedlam won his fifth match on May 2 with a victory over Anthony Michaels, and the storyline saw him forced to give up the title.[10] On May 20, he defeated Randy Savage with help from Dory Funk, Jr. He went on to feud with Tracy Smothers, and the two wrestled in a lengthy series of matches, including several Coalminer's glove matches, in which a glove is available for the wrestlers to use as a weapon.[10] Later that year, Bedlam wrestled several matches against "Dirty White Boy" Tony Anthony. The series consisted of several steel cage matches in which Bedlam put Anthony over, as well as tag team matches where Bedlam teamed with Cornette and Anthony teamed with Ron Wright.[11]

Later career

In 1994, Croitoru also began wrestling in Midwest Territorial Wrestling, an independent promotion based in Michigan. He continued using the ring name Taras Bulba and proclaimed himself "King of Chain matches".[2] He competed in a tournament to determine the promotion's first heavyweight champion, but Al Snow defeated him in the final round.[15] Bulba was pushed for a run with the belt, however, defeating Mickey Doyle on January 21, 1995 to win the vacant title.[15] He held the championship for almost four months before dropping it to Marty Jannetty.[15]

As Johnny K-9, Croitoru returned to the WWF for one match where he defeated Gary Scott in a dark match on January 23, 1995.[16] He then competed briefly in Cleveland All Pro Wrestling, where he wrestled against Cactus Jack in a booked loss on March 23.[17] Croitoru also wrestled in Border City Wrestling (BCW) and was pushed to win the BCW Can-Am Heavyweight Championship by defeating Scott D'Amore on May 21, 1995.[18] He held the title for a little over a month before dropping it back to D'Amore.[18]

Once again using the ring name Bruiser Beldam, he wrestled for Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) for a short time in 1996. While there, he competed in a barbed wire baseball bat match against Ian Rotten; Bedlam was booked for the victory in the match.[19] He also wrestled New Jack at ICW's Holiday Hell supercard in a match that ended in a double countout.[20] He wrestled on World Championship Wrestling's first annual Ilio DiPaolo tribute show, teaming with Cowboy Johnson in a loss to Tony Parisi and Dominic DeNucci.[21] In the late 1990s, Croitoru wrestled in Cambridge, Ontario-based International Championship Wrestling. He feuded with Greg Valentine, and the two wrestled in a series of matches. Bedlam won the ICW Heavyweight Championship from Valentine and used heel tactics such as brass knuckles to defend the belt.[2][22]

Croitoru has also trained several wrestlers, including Pure Wrestling Association's Eddie Osbourne and Melissa Maughn, who competes under the ring name 21st Century Fox.[23][24]

Legal trouble

Satan's Choice motorcycle gang

Croitoru had a history of run-ins with the police. Many of his legal problems came while he was president of the Hamilton, Ontario chapter of the Satan's Choice Outlaw motorcycle club.[25] He was arrested for trafficking cocaine and served ten months in prison.[1][26] Soon after, he was convicted of assault and was given a sentence of seven months.[1] He encountered more problems on December 15, 1996 when he and several friends from Satan's Choice were kicked out of a strip club for wearing their gang's colors.[26] To get revenge, Croitoru and his friends planned to blow up the strip club. They changed their minds, however, and decided to bomb the local police station instead.[26] The bomb caused $133,000 in damages to the Sudbury, Ontario police station and a nearby bank and injured a police officer.[27] Croitoru and two friends were arrested and charged, but the trial did not begin until almost two years later.[28]

While Croitoru was awaiting trial for the bombing, the Hamilton branch of Satan's Choice was shut down after an informant gave the police information about the gang's involvement with drug dealing and extortion.[26] The gang's clubhouse was confiscated and the club's national leadership decided to disband the Hamilton chapter.[27] Croitoru got in a fight in Hamilton with another former Satan's Choice member on January 13, 1998. A police officer saw Croitoru punch the other man in the face and arrested Croitoru for assault.[27] In addition to the assault charge, Croitoru was charged with extortion from an unrelated incident as well as carrying a concealed weapon and breaking the conditions of his release following the police station bombing.[27][29] In September 1998, Croitoru was brought to trial for his role in the bombing.[28] He was convicted and sentenced to 33 months in prison.[26]

Kenneth Murdock, a hitman, has claimed he was hired by the Musitano crime family to kill Croitoru but instead chose to spare his life.[30][31]

Murder accusations

Croitoru's most famous encounter with the law occurred on January 6, 2005 when he was charged with the November 16, 1998 murders of Lynn and Fred Gilbank.[32] The couple was shot execution-style with a shotgun.[33] Police suspect that the murders were in response to Lynn Gilbank's assistance in getting William and Angie Smith into a witness protection program after William Smith gave the police information about the Gravelle crime family.[34] Croitoru, who had several contacts within the Gravelle family (including a contract to kill police inspector Rick Wills, who was investigating the Gravelles),[35] was a suspect in the investigation and had his phones tapped during the investigation.[36]

After an investigation that lasted six years and cost $6 million, police laid charges against Croitoru and Andre Gravelle.[36] Croitoru was charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.[25] After spending seven months in prison, Croitoru was released on $100,000 bail.[37] He was arrested on December 2, 2005 for violating his bail terms, and police filed another extortion charge against him.[29]

Evidence against Croitoru and Gravelle was presented over the course of eight weeks in 2006, but the judge stated that the case against the two accused was not strong.[38] Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant withdrew the charges on June 12, 2006.[39] Following this action by the attorney general, both Croitoru and Andre Gravelle announced plans to file lawsuits against people involved with the prosecution. Gravelle is suing for $25 million, and Croitoru is seeking $15 million for wrongful imprisonment and malicious prosecution.[25][38] Hamilton Police Services was ordered to pay Gravelle $10,000 for court costs.[40] In June 2006, Croitoru also pleaded guilty to the charges of extortion and violating the terms of his bail. As a result, he was forced to forfeit $10,000 of the bail money.[37]

United Nations gang

On May 15, 2009, Croitoru was arrested, along with seven other members of the United Nations gang. They were charged with conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly plotting to kill the Bacon Brothers and other members of the Red Scorpions gang.[41][42] On January 24, 2011, Croitoru was charged with first degree murder in connection with the execution of Jonathan Barber [43] and the attempted murder of Barber's girlfriend Vicky King, then 17, in Burnaby on May 9, 2008.[44] In July 2013, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, and the murder charges were stayed. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, which was reduced to four years and eight months after factoring in time served.[45][46] In January 2015, he applied for parole, stating that he had agreed to help with the murders to impress members of the United Nations gang, but that he did not intend to kill anyone. The application was denied.[46] On September 1, 2016, Croitoru was released to live in a halfway house and was ordered not to have any contact with gangsters or criminals.[47]

Personal life

Before entering professional wrestling, Croitoru played junior hockey for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League.[25] He was not drafted to the National Hockey League, however, and he decided to pursue professional wrestling instead. He was an accomplished weightlifter, and he once bench pressed 625 pounds.[29] While awaiting his murder trial, he ran a home renovation business until he was unable to secure a bank loan to cover business expenses.[37] After closing the business, he supported himself by working as a used car salesman.[37]

Croitoru lived in Vancouver, British Columbia with his common-law wife Tracy Edwards.[25] He had most recently worked as a bodyguard for Lion's Gate Entertainment, providing protection for such entertainers as Jack Nicholson and Cyndi Lauper.[25][37] He also had a brief acting career, appearing in a movie titled Oklahoma Smugglers, in which he portrayed a wrestler, and such television shows as Reaper.[42][48]

Croitoru had three children: Johnny, Blaise, and Tia.[49]

Death

Croitoru died on February 21, 2017, at a federal halfway house in Toronto at the age of 53.[49][50]

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Oliver, Greg. "SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Bruiser Bedlam". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Wrestler Profiles: Bruiser Bedlam". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Profil von Bruiser Bedlam". Cagematch: The Internet Wrestling Database (in German). Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b "NWA/AWA Southern Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Ring Results: 1985". The History of WWE. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Ring Results: 1986". The History of WWE. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Ring Results: 1987". The History of WWE. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Ring Results: 1988". The History of WWE. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Regional Territories: Smoky Mountain Wrestling #14". Kayfabe Memories. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  10. ^ a b c "Smoky Mountain Wrestling: April–June 1994". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  11. ^ a b "Smoky Mountain Wrestling: July–September 1994". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Smoky Mountain Wrestling: October–December 1994". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  13. ^ Duncan, Royal; Gary Will (2006). Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  14. ^ a b "Smoky Mountain Wrestling "Beat the Champ" Television Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c d "Midwest Territorial Wrestling Title Histories". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  16. ^ "Ring Results: 1995". The History of WWE. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  17. ^ "Cleveland All Pro Wrestling". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  18. ^ a b c "BCW Can-Am Heayweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Insane Championship Wrestling: August 11, 1996". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  20. ^ "Holiday Hell". Pro Wrestling History. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  21. ^ "WCW Ring Results: 1996". The History of WWE. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  22. ^ Powell, John. "Valentine still "hammering" away". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Singles Wrestlers". Great Lakes Championship Wrestling. Archived from the original on June 30, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  24. ^ "Women Wrestler Profiles: 21st Century Fox". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  25. ^ a b c d e f Oliver, Greg (February 6, 2007). "Johnny K-9 starts a new life". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  26. ^ a b c d e Kelvin, T.A. (2007). Headless Man in Topless Bar: Studies of 725 Cases of Strip Club Related Criminal Homicides. Dog Ear Publishing. p. 505. ISBN 1-59858-324-7. 
  27. ^ a b c d e Dunphy, Bill. "Bruiser Bedlam arrested on street". SLAM! Wrestling. Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  28. ^ a b "Explosion au quartier général des policiers". Radio Canada (in French). September 16, 1998. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  29. ^ a b c Mooneyham, Mike (December 18, 2005). "Wrestlers in Jail for the Holidays". The Wrestling Gospel. Archived from the original on April 17, 2008. Retrieved December 5, 2009. 
  30. ^ Edwards, Peter (August 13, 2010). "Mafia hitman reveals his code for killings". The Toronto Star. 
  31. ^ "Hamilton wrestler ‘Johnny K-9’ a member of B.C. gang". thestar.com. August 29, 2011. Retrieved December 11, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Johnny K-9 held in double slaying". SLAM! Wrestling. January 7, 2005. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  33. ^ Clairmont, Susan (March 10, 2007). "Gilbanks say it's corruption". Canadian Crime Victim Foundation. Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  34. ^ "The Police File on the Gravelle Family". Media Awareness Project. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  35. ^ Clairmont, Susan (May 15, 2009). "From top cop ... to $20,000 bail". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved May 15, 2009. 
  36. ^ a b Mitchell, Brett (March 10, 2007). "A Tale of Two Families". CTV. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  37. ^ a b c d e Legall, Paul (December 19, 2007). "Unruly wrestler must pay crown $10,000". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved June 14, 2010. 
  38. ^ a b Kari, Shannon (May 24, 2007). "Murder mystery deepens as $25M lawsuit filed". National Post. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  39. ^ "A complicated path". Hamilton Spectator. May 25, 2007. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  40. ^ "Hamilton Police Ordered to Pay Convicted Drug Smuggler Andre Gravelle $10K". CBC. February 10, 2015. Retrieved August 25, 2015. 
  41. ^ "8 alleged UN gang members charged". CBC. May 15, 2009. Retrieved May 15, 2009. 
  42. ^ a b Bolan, Kim (May 15, 2009). "Eight UN gangsters now charged with conspiracy to murder Bacon brothers". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved May 15, 2009. 
  43. ^ "Johnny K-9 faces murder charge". January 25, 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2011. 
  44. ^ Edwards, Peter (August 29, 2011). "Hamilton wrestler ‘Johnny K-9’ a member of B.C. gang". Toronto Star. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 
  45. ^ "Former Hamilton biker boss Johnny K-9 guilty in BC drug gang murder plot". Hamilton Spectator. July 9, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2015. 
  46. ^ a b Dolan, Kim (January 30, 2015). "Ex-wrestler who was part of UN gang plot to kill Bacon brothers is denied parole". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  47. ^ Bolan, Kim (August 31, 2016). "Two Men with UN Links to Be Released from Prison". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  48. ^ "Oklahoma Smugglers (1988): Acting Credits". New York Times. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  49. ^ a b Clairmont, Susan (February 22, 2017). "Johnny K-9, Suspect in Ancaster Murder, Found Dead at Toronto Halfway House". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  50. ^ Humphreys, Adrian (February 22, 2017). "Natural Causes Succeed where Mob Hit Men and Gangsters Failed — Johnny K-9 Is Dead". National Post. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  51. ^ a b c "Bruiser Bedlam: Fakten". Genickbruch: Die Wrestlingseite des alten Europa. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  52. ^ Conner, Floyd (2001). Wrestling's Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Pro Wrestling's Outrageous Performers, Punishing Piledrivers, and Other Oddities. Brassey's. p. 51. ISBN 1-57488-308-9. 
  53. ^ "Smoky Mountain Television from Mid-July/Mid-August 1994". Kayfabe Memories. Retrieved February 18, 2008. 
  54. ^ The Wrestler, May 1995 issue, pp. 6–7

External links

  • A Complicated Path (Hamilton Spectator timeline of the Gilbank murders and investigation)
  • Ion Croitoru profile at SLAM! Wrestling
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