The Pacific Northwest wrestling world was rocked late on Wednesday by the passing of Todd “Oly” Olsen. He’d been in hospital in recent weeks for tests on his heart. It was determined that he would need a heart replacement, but he died before a suitable donor could be found. He was 58.
Olsen wrestled professionally from 1984 to 1999, primarily in British Columbia, Alberta, Washington state, and Oregon. He also did a couple of tours, including New Zealand, Hawaii and the Canadian Maritimes.
He also trained wrestlers and promoted under the Ringside Pro Wrestling name in Washington State, and ran a website (now offline), blackbootwrestling.com, that aimed to “demonstrate wrestling holds. Real, legitimate wrestling holds.”
Olsen detailed much of his career in a 2007 interview with SLAM! Wrestling: Tradition still important to Oly Olsen.
“After days of symptoms, testing, and finally open heart surgery, it’s been determined that Todd needs a new heart. To help him survive until a new heart becomes available, he now has a total artificial heart in place,” reads a Gofundme crowdfunding site that was raising money to support Olsen and his wife, Tina Pavelic-Olsen, during his health battle. They lived in Marysville, Washington.
Mark Vellios, who wrestled as Michelle Starr, was one of the first to learn the news, and his post to Facebook quickly spread to other wrestlers: “Just got some very sad news. A fellow wrestler that I have had the privilege to call a friend passed away today. I met him when I was 19 years old and had countless matches with this man. I can’t believe he is gone. Rest in Peace Todd Oly Olsen. You will be missed by my family and the fans of All Star Wrestling.”
The rest of the Pacific Northwest wrestling family shared Vellios’ feelings.
“Very saddened this evening by the passing of our Brother Todd Oly Olsen,” posted Raven Lake. “Oly was the kindest man you will ever meet, I first met Oly in 1993 when I first broke into the business, he was always there to give advice to us rookies. It was a great privledge and honor to work beside such a wonderful man. To his family I send my deepest condolences and prayers. RIP Oly you are missed.”
“Sadly another one of my peers from the wrestling game has passed on to the ring in the heavens,” wrote Moondog Manson. “Todd Oly Olsen you were always a kind and soft spoken person. While the past 15 years has been mostly sporadic meetings usually years apart, It always brought joy to me when I saw your smile and got to shake your hand. RIP Champ.”
“Dirty” Dan Denton, an occasional columnist for this site, sent out an Instagram note under his real name of Dan Turner. “Many years ago in another world I was a pro wrestler. I had many brothers and through a million adventures, I loved them dearly. Sadly we lost one. Oly Olson was a sweetheart. Thank you Oly for all the wonderful memories. See you down the road….”
Olsen was always willing to share his knowledge, as posts from younger wrestlers attest.
“I not only got the chance to sit down with Todd Oly Olsen and hear a few of his stories and gave me lots of great advice BUT I got to share the same ring with him and have our hands raised high,” wrote Matt Xstatic (Matthew A Desrocher). “We will miss you Mr Oly Olsen, R.I.P My friend.”
“I remember my very first ECCW show when I was going to be meeting Mark a.k.a. Starr to learn the craft. On that card was you Oly,” wrote Disco Fury (Nathan Burke). “You were the complete package of a showman. That was in 1997 fast forward to several years later when I had the honor of working with you in the squared circle. I was giddy at the opportunity to be in there with you. I mean you were a legend and I really was eager to learn something from you. On that night you pinned me with a very old school finish and I had the biggest smile on my face. So today it’s with great sadness that we lost part of our wrestling family. May your wings spread far and your soul be free. God speed Oly RIP”
Jason Cage also talked about being in the ring with a veteran that could still bring it. “I had one occasion to face ‘Oldschool’ Oly Olsen in Feb. 2014 for the Legends Championship,” he wrote. “Oly was a true professional in and out of the ring, and will be sadly missed by all. I chuckle when thinking of our match. While Oly was booked to ‘do the honours’ in passing the championship that night, without needing to say a word he subtly let me know mid-match that he could still easily snap my arm like a twig using his tremendous strength, if he so desired…. yet Oly never left me with so much as a bruise.
Much respect sir… I’ll see u one day in the big squared-circle in the sky.”
Funeral arrangements are not known at this time.
OLY OLSEN STORIES
- Nov. 20, 2015: Suzie Tanner: Working out with Oly; BC’s female ref remembers
- Nov. 20, 2015: Dan Denton: B.C.’s wrestling family will miss Oly Olsen’s laughter and his heart
- June 7, 2007: Tradition still important to Oly Olsen
- Jan. 31, 2006: Returning vets revel in ECCW anniversary