Leslieville Lives; Stories from the ‘Ville – Sweet Daddy Siki

 

The first time I had heard of Sweet Daddy was in 2011 when I was walking down Queen St. with an old beau – who pointed out the old wrestler pic of Sweet Daddy Siki that was on the side of the Duke, and stopped in his tracks.   Who? What? He was surprised I had no idea who the man was, but I’d lived overseas for nearly 20 years. That’s my excuse, but admit that even if I was here, I don’t think I would’ve known of any wrestlers. It wasn’t until last year when I started attending some fundraisers at the Duke that I saw him. All I knew was that he held court at karoake there every Saturday from 4:00-7:30p.m.  and that he was a well-known wrestler in his past.

When I sat down with him, two of the most soothing voices in the history of mankind came to mind.  Morgan Freeman, waxing on about Zihuatanejo in the classic film Shawshank Redemption, and Barry White, that soothing bass-baritone voice from the 70s disco days. I was transported to both places listening to Sweet Daddy Siki talking in that slow, thoughtful drawl.

A gentle old soul now, Sweet Daddy is, in a word, sweet. When I asked him where he got the nickname, a wry smile snuck out. ‘One night a woman, who was sitting ringside during a match Montreal, called up and sang out,  ‘Sweeeeet Daddy’. He laughs. ‘The next week she was there with some girlfriends, the chorus started up and the name just stuck’.

Born in Montgomery, Texas, Sweet Daddy, aka Regi Siki, was smitten with boxing first, then wrestling as a young boy. At the age of 16 he started training. After two years he was off to war. ‘Which one?’ I’d say. He laughed. You’re not gonna get my age ya know’. I tried several other tricks to find out how old he was, to no avail. He caught me every time. I did guess the Korean War but he gave me that poker face gaze. No tells.  Again a simple search of this widely known icon will tell me everything I need to know, but apparently you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Interweb ;).  I do know for sure he first started spinning disks at the Duke 20 years ago . ‘After I retired’ he said. What year was that? I ask. ‘Ha haaaaa’ he’d reply.

Sweet Daddy Siki was as famous as they come in his heyday. He moved to Toronto in 1961 and made it home. His huge fan base would converge on Maple Leaf Gardens in the 1960s to watch the serious wrestler with a fun side. Nicknamed Mr. Irresistible, he was a true character; sequined vests and all. He laughs about ‘all the ladies’ but his heart belonged to one woman, who he was married to for nearly 50 years. She passed away last year leaving him and two sons behind, both who are in the music business. Needless to say I couldn’t get their names.

‘So, I’m guessing you got pretty banged up out there in the ring?’. ‘Oh yeah. A lot of violence in those days. The game has changed now and it’s more for show but back then, it could get ugly’. His face is partially paralyzed from a hit back in the day, not to mention the many broken bones here and there along the journey.

The king of the ring won many championships, and continued wrestling into the 90s,  also teaching/training the craft. He’s hobnobbed with the likes of Muhammad Ali, Wilt Chamberlain and Charlie Pride. A lover of music – he’s recorded a few albums – as well  as wrestling, Sweet Daddy saw the end of his wrestling career as the beginning of his music one.

The next time you’re at the Duke on a Saturday afternoon, stop by the music machine and say ‘Hi’. He might’ve been a tough guy in his youth, but he is a genuinely Sweet Daddy.

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*Later this year a book and documentary are being released on Sweet Daddy Siki. To learn his ‘whole’ story keep an eye out.

24 Comments
  • Stephen Hinde

    June 13, 2016 at 11:56 am Reply

    1941?

  • Shannon

    June 14, 2016 at 2:10 am Reply

    Wonder why he didn’t want ay one to know his son s names….maybe because he has other kids also.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:06 am Reply

      Hi Shannon – It was kind of a running joke. It’s because a book and documentary are coming out soon and he didn’t want to give too much away :).

  • Lisa Dack

    June 14, 2016 at 10:44 am Reply

    We (my husband Dennis C Dack) and I love Sweet Daddy. We met at the Duke and danced our first dances together while Sweet Daddy spun those LP’s(discs). Thank you for bringing us together almost 23 years ago.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:07 am Reply

      Hi Lisa – You’re welcome! He was such a pleasure to chat with. A really gentle soul. I had no idea! So glad I did this profile of him.

  • Susan Reynolds Crockett

    June 14, 2016 at 1:45 pm Reply

    My mom used to take us to the wrestling matches in Belleville Ontario. He would fight with the Sheik, Billy Red Lyons, Andre the giant. Lots of blood in the ring. Lol Rember the white boots. He lived in Parkdale a few blocks away. Alway a gentleman, always said “hi”. Can’t wait to find out more about his book. Tx for the article.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:08 am Reply

      Thanks Susan! I had no real idea about his life until I sat down with him. I’m learning a lot from these comments and how well liked and known he was in Toronto!

  • GrandPrixWrestling

    June 14, 2016 at 3:22 pm Reply

    awesome read.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:08 am Reply

      Thanks GPW :). He was a pleasure to chat with.

  • Paula

    June 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm Reply

    Very interesting he was actually training my moms ex boyfriend many years ago to be a wrestler.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:09 am Reply

      Wow. I had no idea how interesting, and well know he was until I sat down with him. And all these comments. So great to profile someone from the ‘hood who everyone knows.

  • Jerry Pinksen

    June 14, 2016 at 5:24 pm Reply

    Fantastic story. I too, was pleasantly surprised while visiting my daughter in Leslieville and enjoying a pint at “The Duke”. When she told me that Sweet Daddy Siki ran a karaoke show there on Saturday evenings, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. I was introduced to him, had my picture taken with him, and even had the pleasure of performing a few songs.
    I was just a kid of 10 in the mid 60’s, but remember my mom and dad watching “Maple Leaf Wrestling” with guys like Whipper Billy Watson, The Iron Sheik and Wolfman Farkus. Sweet Daddy was a household name for a lot of years and was always a favorite. I was proud to shake his hand when I met him personally and was delighted to be in the presence of a childhood icon. And yes, he is still the same gentle giant we know and love as Sweet Daddy.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:10 am Reply

      That’s great Jerry. I feel a bit strange not having known about him until a few years ago, but I was ‘away’. I love all these comments. Great to know he was so well liked. And understandably. A sweet gentleman.

  • Kenny Clark

    June 14, 2016 at 10:48 pm Reply

    I seen sweet daddy wrestle many times at Cobo arena…Downtown Detroit MI

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:11 am Reply

      Cool Kenny! I had no idea how popular he was until I sat down with him. The things you discover about people. Great stuff.

  • Paul Stulberg

    June 14, 2016 at 11:02 pm Reply

    Where exactly is The Duke?

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:11 am Reply

      Hi Paul, The Duke is at Leslie and Queen St. East in Leslieville/east end.

  • Roger Shelswell

    June 15, 2016 at 10:24 am Reply

    I had a tequila or 2 with him at the Queens Hotel in Barrie in Oct of 1969 the night before I got married.His band was paying there.He bought.

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:12 am Reply

      Fun Roger. I had no idea he put albums out or sang until I met him/did a bit of research the last few weeks. Great man.

  • Linds

    June 16, 2016 at 5:21 am Reply

    That’s a great article… I remember him well.. Wore big white sunglasses. A favorite of my dads. Thanks for sharing:-)

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:12 am Reply

      Thanks Linds, You’re welcome! He’s quite a character.

  • Pattie Chambers

    June 16, 2016 at 6:24 am Reply

    Wow I remember when he sang in Belleville Ontario and what a great singer

    • diane

      June 26, 2016 at 10:13 am Reply

      Great stuff Pattie. We’ll have to get him up to sing a few karaoke songs one of these Saturday afternoons ;).

  • Pam

    March 20, 2017 at 10:23 pm Reply

    I actually have a record Album of Sweet Daddy and I shall bring it with me to get it signed.. Awesome….

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