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Point Roberts bar celebrating B.C. Sports Hall of Fame induction

Nick and Kelly Kiniski's pro wrestling legend father part of 2021 class

Nick Kiniski figures it would have been one heck of a party at his Point Roberts bar if the current U.S. border closure didn’t get in the way.

His father Gene Kiniski is part of the 2021 B.C. Sports Hall of Fame induction class, selected in the Pioneer category. The pro wrestling legend was known as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete” during a career that spanned decades.

Gene lost his battle to cancer in 2010 at the age of 81. The Blaine resident was a regular at Kiniski’s Reef Tavern where a special section has been dedicated to his career, along with his sons Nick and Kelly, who also went on to become pro wrestlers. The Kiniski collection includes photos, championship belts, trophies and press articles.

Nick and Kelly represented their dad at the induction announcement held earlier this month.

“I am very proud of him and he would be very proud if he was still here to see all his friends and stuff. A quote he always used was there are steamships, sailing ships and battleships, but there is no ship like friendship and he had a lot of friends out there,” said Nick.

Gene grew up in Edmonton and thrived as an amateur wrestler and football player. He went on to earn a football scholarship to the University of Arizona and eventually returned to his hometown to play in the CFL. A serious knee injury cut short his football career and that’s when he turned full-time to pro wrestling, making his debut south of the border with matches in California and Texas.

He then headed to Eastern Canada before coming to Vancouver to join NWA All-Star Wrestling where he established himself as a world champion, earning global fame with appearances throughout North America and Japan.

Nick said his dad’s athleticism and colourful personality made him a perfect fit for the wild world of professional wrestling, while he and his brother tagged along.

“I was very fortunate to live that kind of lifestyle,” recalled Nick who recently wrapped up his career in emergency services where he was based out of Orcas Island. “He was a character that a lot people knew. Some people just have the charisma. I could tell the same joke Johnny Carson tells and it’s just not the same. That’s what it was like with my dad. Even after he retired, he stayed in amazing shape with a lot of running and swimming.”

Nick thanks the efforts of Bernie Pascall, Moray Keith and Greg Keith who spearheaded the letter campaign to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame to get his dad considered for induction.

The banquet and induction ceremony will take place sometime next spring.