APW owner passes away

Roland AlexanderRoland Alexander, the owner of California-based All Pro Wrestling, passed away yesterday at the age of 59.

The Wrestling Observer reports that while the cause of death is not known, he has been in poor health in recent years with heart and diabetes issues.

While Alexander – who promoted shows in the state for 22 years – is probably best known for his appearance in 1999 documentary Beyond The Mat, he also has had a profound effect on the women’s wrestling scene, and is partly responsible for getting it to the size that it is today.

APW was where Sara Del Rey began her training back in 2001, and also was one of the main promotions where Cheerleader Melissa worked during the early years of her career, and also was the venue for all-women shows from October 29, 2004 – when the APW Garage in Hayward hosted the first ChickFight tournament which was won by Princesa Sugheit, defeating Candice LeRae, Nikki Roxx and Melissa to take the title.

ChickFight would be held at the APW Garage for the next year, until it was moved to larger buildings for ChickFights IV-VI, when it crossed the Atlantic to the UK. While it came after the critically-acclaimed IWA: Mid-South Volcano Girls show, it preceded the launch of SHIMMER, and allowed US grapplers to mix with luchadoras like Sugey and Tiffany, and joshi talent like Mariko Yoshida. Without Alexander’s support, there’s no telling what would have happened to women’s wrestling – SHIMMER would probably have still existed, though ChickFight helped to grab the attention of many wrestling fans to show them what women could do – and that includes this writer.

Our thoughts are with Alexander’s family and friends at this time.

– Lee Burton

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