Perennial Pacific Northwest star wrestler and promoter Dutch Savage died late on August 3, 2013, at age 78, according to a Facebook posting by his daughter Mitzi. He had been hospitalized for months after being felled by a series of strokes which compounded existing health problems.
Born Frank Lionel Stewart on June 9, 1935, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he debuted in 1962 as Lonnie Brown the older brother of Big Luke Brown in Georgia and traveled the North American territories and Japan as a lanky 6’4″ solid hand with the unique goatee, long tights and kneepads.
In the late 1960s he became well-known in Canada through consecutive stints on hugely rated TV wrestling shows with the nationally syndicated All Star Wrestling show out of Vancouver, then moving to the American Wrestling Association seen in Winnipeg, before returning to homestead the BC/Washington territory through the ’70s, retiring from the ring in 1981 to promote and do TV commentary.
Using the dreaded thumb to the throat jab to debilitate opponents, Savage teamed and feuded on those popular TV shows with top Canadian stars such as Gene Kiniski, Mad Dog Vachon, John Tolos, Don “The Spoiler” Jardine, and Bulldog Bob Brown.
As a tag team partner and promoter in the mid-’70s he helped develop key talents who headlined in the later WWF expansion of the ’80s, including Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, and Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Savage, considered one of the top heroes in the history of the famed Portland, Oregon territory, is also recognized as originator of the “Coal Miner’s Glove Match,” in which a loaded glove was affixed to a pole as a potential weapon on a downed opponent; the feud-ending stipulation was given the mythological history as the way men settled their differences in the coal miners camps of West Virginia.
After departing the wrestling scene Savage was a successful realtor in Washington State and began a televised Christian ministry teaching the King James Bible.