The Sheik (Ed Farhat) with Sam Muchnick. Photo by Dave Drason Burzynski

Wrestling has lost one of its legendary promoters.

Sam Muchnick, who was the St. Louis promoter for 40 years, passed away Wednesday morning at 93 of internal bleeding.

Muchnick was instrumental in the foundation of the National Wrestling Alliance in 1948, and was president of the NWA for two terms — 1950-60 and 1963-75.

Just about every big star that ever wrestled went through St. Louis at one point or another. Think Lou Thesz, Harley Race, Gene Kiniski, Bruiser Brody.

“Sam was a very straightforward promoter,” said former world champion and friend Lou Thesz to the The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He paid you right on the barrel head, even if the house wasn’t that good that night. He was the most liked and loved promoter in the world.”

Muchnick was born in 1905 in the Ukraine and moved to the U.S. in 1911. He was a sportswriter before getting involved with wrestling, covering the Cardinals and even interviewing Babe Ruth.

He promoted his last card in 1982. Ric Flair battled Dusty Rhodes in the main event.

“Sam was probably the dean of professional wrestling,” said former world champion Harley Race to the The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He was a brilliant promoter and all-around decent guy.”

Sam and wife Helen, who died in 1981, raised three children.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Buddy Fund, 190 Ladue Pines, St. Louis, Mo. 63141.