Some names just go together. Abbott and Costello. Burns and Allen. Manning and Harrison. Bonnie and Clyde. When it comes to wrestling, there are plenty too, like Flair-Steamboat, Hogan-Piper, or Blanchard and Anderson. But if I go more specific, when I think of the wrestling scene in Saskatchewan, it was always Bob Leonard and John “Principal Pound” Cozman. With John’s death Monday, just months after we lost Bob, well, it hurts.
Based in Regina, they were best of friends. The best.
I always was in awe of their epic road trips, which barely seemed like anything to them, but to me, who has never owned a car, it was incomprehensible. Perched up high in Bob’s red van, seemingly straight out of the shag carpet era of the 1970s, they’d drive the 22-or-so hours from Regina down to Las Vegas for the annual Cauliflower Alley Club reunions. Their stops along the way were part of the journey, two buddies enjoying time together. They’d also make the trips to Iowa for the Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame induction weekends on occasion too.
The wrestling accomplishments of both Bob Leonard and Principal Pound have been covered before here on SLAM! Wrestling, deservedly so, and both are a part of our Canadian Hall of Fame. They were both key contributors to professional wrestling in Saskatchewan and throughout the Prairies.
You won’t hear a bad word spoken about either man, though there will be some ribbing. Bob smoked too much, and his low, raspy voice took its time getting to the point … yep.
Like Bob, John knew how to listen, avoiding a young man’s instinct to fill time with mindless blather. He was quiet and friendly, a big man, yet always approachable. Nothing was in a hurry with John though, and from what I know about his Principal Pound character, that translated into the ring too. Let’s just say that he wasn’t a highspot guy.
Since so much of our common time together through the years was in Vegas at the CAC, usually a beverage of choice was involved, sometimes in the wee hours; other times, it was as simple as Bob and John driving me to a grocery store to stock up on some supplies to keep my costs down while on the road, and the marvel at the wealth of American supermarkets.
Other times through the years, I’d get in touch with them for leads on people to talk to, or secondary quotes. They stayed tuned into both the current scene in Regina to a degree as well as keeping in touch with older colleagues.
Kudos to High Impact Wrestling, the well-entrenched promotion in their home province, for honouring both Bob and John at an event last October. As they say, it’s best to honour someone before it’s too late.
News of John’s battles with cancer had circulated for a while, so his appearance at the CAC reunion in April, just a short while after Bob died in January, was such a pleasant surprise. It was great to sit and chat with him, which I did, and which I am so glad that I did. But you never think it’ll be the last time, not with someone so young. With Bob, his health battles were so much more evident than John’s; Bob ended up losing part of his foot and having to get around with a walker and then in a motorized scooter. With John, he was just a little less lively in Vegas; he genuinely seemed to love being there, surrounded my friends he’d made through the years.
Then a couple of days ago, news broke that John was going downhill. Fast. He died today, November 28, at just 52 years of age. Damn cancer.
The only bright side that I can take away from this is that I know that somewhere John and Bob are together again, and no doubt some other common pals, like Archie “The Stomper” Gouldie are there too, sharing a laugh and telling stories.