By Brian Webster
There are no words to describe the tremendous loss the world of professional wrestling endured on Friday September 20, 2013. On that beautiful late-summer day, Mario “Angelo Savoldi” Fornini passed away, surrounded by his loving family.
In the history of professional wrestling, no other individual made more contributions to the industry than the patriarch of the legendary Savoldi family, Angelo Savoldi.
Angelo was more than a promoter. He was a pioneer. Back in his heyday, when wrestling was much less ( VERY much less) glitz and glamour, and more “rasslin’”, Angelo wrestled the best of the best, and quickly-and often-became a champion. Because of his work ethic and drawing power, Angelo was the first American professional wrestler to travel to Puerto Rico to compete against the island nation’s biggest stars. Very early in his career, Angelo Savoldi became a household name.
Mr. Savoldi wasn’t just a pioneer of professional wrestling. He was just as big a star when he wasn’t bumping and bruising inside the squared circle. Angelo’s in-ring persona was the complete opposite of his life outside the ring. At the sound of the bell, Savoldi became one of the meanest, most hated villains fans of the squared circle had ever seen. But when the arena emptied, the lights dimmed and the fans filed out….Angelo would head home to his loving wife Mary and adoring children Mario, John, Albert, and Robert “Jumpin’ Joe”, and become a champion in their minds and hearts. Ask anyone, from today’s stars to the legends of yesteryear, neighbors and friends…and they will all speak of Angelo’s impeccable manners, and gentlemanly conduct. A down-to-earth, likeable guy who loved to talk wrestling history, memories of his heyday,proudly discuss his family and immeasurable love of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and gab for hours about his beloved New York Yankees.
When the sun was beginning to set on Angelo’s in-ring career, he was offered a position in the front office of Vince McMahon Senior’s WWWF. Angelo was a logical choice for the job. He had the experience of being an in-ring performer, and because of his personality, had a great rapport with the other talent as well as behind-the-scenes management. Part of Savoldi’s duties included promoting towns throughout the northeast, like Providence, Hartford, Boston, Worcester, Manchester, NH, Portland, Bangor, Augusta in Maine, and Montpelier and Burlington Vermont. Month after month, Angelo’s efforts would result in sellouts of every arena, as top names like Gorilla Monsoon, Andre The Giant, Bruno Sammartino, and Pedro Morales would battle for supremacy.
When the WWWF began moving in a new and exciting direction, Angelo began to think about how he could further contribute to the success of a business that had given so much to him during his earlier years. With his sons, Mario and Jumpin’ Joe, and nephew Tom, Angelo formed International Championship Wrestling. Through many years of solid relationships with wrestling’s finest, all the top names came flocking to ICW. Many will say ICW was ahead of its time. It was new, exciting, in-your-face no-nonsense professional wrestling with upgraded production values and something unheard of at the time for so-called independent promotions: a world-wide audience. What ICW presented is remembered fondly, and still talked about today by fans throughout the country and around the world. And it’s all due to the hard work and dedication of one man, Angelo Savoldi.
After many years as a top star in the NWA, wrestler and promoter in WWWF, top promoter in the Northeast, devoted husband, dedicated father, grandfather, uncle, mentor, and friend, Mario Fornini will forever be cherished as a man who was, is, and always will be his family’s and professional wrestling’s King, Giant, and Superstar all rolled into one.