Todd Oly Olsen came into my life in the 1980s as we both broke into the wrestling business. Oly was the most humble, kindest, soft-hearted human being alive. I don’t ever recall a day were he was mad or upset about anything. Oly was always one to jump in and lend a hand for up-and-coming wrestlers, giving advice and training wrestling holds. My personal time with Oly was always magically funny – his sense of humour was incredible.

Oly Olsen does push-ups in the ring in 2012.

With my goal in the business to became better and healthier, Oly the gentleman he was, said, “Tanner, follow me. Do as I say and you will prevail.” I was nervous but very eager to be all I could be, as I was the first female referee to enter the squared circle and I needed to prove women belong in wrestling other than as a wrestler or manager.

The next day I followed Oly’s advice, and headed to Everett, Washington, to Oly’s local gym. For three days straight, he got me on a program and the work began. Oly’s work ethic was incredible and his knowledge was outstanding

But through it all, we laughed as he told stories of past road trips that had us both with tears in our eyes from laughing so much. His imitation of Al Tomko was priceless and right on mark. I still laugh about it to this day.

After a few months of training on my own at a Gold’s Gym and bouncing down to Oly’s home gym, the funniest thing happened. I started my workout, and Oly started pressing weights, glances at me, and drops the weights.

And bursts out laughing.

“What you laughing at?” I demand.

Between the tears of laughter, he spits out, “Sh–, Tanner, your arms are as big as mine!”

While I told him to shut up, the fact is that I loved it, and had earned the compliment. I had bulked up like crazy thanks to his guidance. We came to the conclusion that I should stop going to the Gold’s Gym, where I would only embarrass the wannabes.

Oly was a great friend, a dedicated wrestler, and a devoted family man who was loved by all.

Oly we all love you, and we are shocked and extremely saddened that you left this world too young.

But as you entered the ring leaving your wrestling family and fans speechless, you left this world the same way.

My you find yourself at peace, happy, and squaring off with the other greats who have passed.

It’s my honor to have know and loved you. The ring bell rings for the last time my friend.

R.I.P. Ole.


Suzie Tanner


Suzie Tanner was a referee in Al Tomko’s All-Star Wrestling promotion in the mid-1980s.