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2013 MWR Lifetime Achievement Recipient Karl. K. Lauer

Posted by flairwhoooooo on January 6, 2014

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Karl’s shares time with his mentor and friend Leo and June Garibaldi – The two were friends from 1947 until Leo’s death in 2008.

All photos courtesy of Karl Lauer

Born in Chicago, Illinois on August 1938, Karl. K. Lauer has spent his lifetime touching many people around the world. Lauer’s family moved to Los Angeles California in 1940, where he would make his home until 1994.

His father Karl Lauer Sr. founded Karl’s Equipment Co. in 1947. Lauer Sr. built specialty refrigeration cases under the trade name Flot-Aire (pronounced “Float Air”), which is the system he designed for “Custom” Floral Refrigeration. Karl joined the company in 1962 upon discharge from the Air Force and found success when he took the job of President and CEO of Flot-Aire from 1965-1994, MFG Commercial Refrigeration equipment. The company today is owned and run by his son Wayne Lauer with the main office located in Rolla, Missouri. It is now called Flot-Aire Mid-America

At the age of twenty years old, Lauer would serve his country as a member of the United States Air Force from 1958 to 1962. During that time he would take part in one tour of Greenland North Pole expedition, as well as one tour of Cambodia, assigned guard on the Presidential aircraft the Columbine during the tour at Charleston AFB South Carolina.

For 12 years from 1980-1992, Lauer also served on the United States Congressional Advisory Board under United States Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush. This was a non paid appointment but Lauer said it was an experience and a pleasure to meet President Ronald Reagan, someone he greatly respected and enjoyed learning from him. He does not talk politics very often and said he has never voted a straight ticket but for the candidate.

With a business mind, he had a idea to team up wrestling with stock car racing early on with “Wrestle Race”. Mike LeBell the NWA promoter for So Calif turned down the idea, so Lauer just booked his talent from Mike for a flat fee per wrestler and went on with the plan. During the race night on the half mile track would be a race, and then they would roll out the ring and have a match. This process would then repeat throughout the evening. The attendance crowd increased from 4,000-5,000 to 7,000-8,000 fans from the partnership. The track got 60% and Lauer 40 % of the gate, back then a 12K to 21K was a very respectable gate seeing all tickets were only $3.00, it was not long when the wrestlers started calling him to be booked direct and he paid much more than the $40.00 guarantee they were getting.

The team up with be short-lived team up, but the fact that Karl Lauer had a mind for promoting earned the respect of future partner wrestler Gory Guerrero. Gory was one of the most respected and knowledgeable men I have ever known and was a fantastic mentor for me regarding wrestling. Lauer joined the prestigious Cauliflower Alley Club in 1979 when he was sponsored by two very old friends Leo Garibaldi and Red Bastien, back then the only way for someone that did not have the credentials to be a member to join was at the sponsorship of two members.

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Joe Pulombo, Sam Muchnick and Karl in the front row . In the back is Buddha Kahn, aka the Black Devil pro wrestler 25 years, Roller Derby heel and recording artist with the Medallions, the Penguins and the Coasters.

In January of 1980, the then-President and founder Iron Mike Mazurki of the CAC phoned Karl Lauer and asked him if he would consider become the CAC business manager. “Sure,” Karl said, “how long do you want me to be the business manager?” Mike Mazurki answered: “No time limit.” It has lasted over 30 yrs.

In 1983 Lauer became the business manager until 1988 he was asked to be the Vice President while wrestling great Lou Thesz was the president. In 1988 and Chairman of the board in 1989 until finishing up as the CEO starting in 1989 till the present, a total of 34 years with the club with 24 year tenure as the club CEO.

Though Karl Lauer was very hard working in his responsibilities for the CAC, he continued to promote shows under the promotion California Pro Wrestling that was established in 1979 with Gory Guerrero and four other investors started. Lauer would buy out the five other men in 1982. During that time he ran weekly shows in San Bernardino, San Pedro, Santa Ana and semi- monthly shows at the famous Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. During this time, He took the time to be trained under the watchful eye of Leo Garibaldi and Prof Tora Tanaka. Lauer donned the hood and entered the squared circle under the names the Masked Bossman or Gringo Patrone.

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Though he only worked specialty matches for his promotion mainly to work an angle or get someone over further in the card. He always remembered what Gory had told him “no one comes to see the promoter or the referee, always put the talent over” and he did, and always stayed low keyed to the fans, after all they were paying all the bills.

Lauer would experience a setback for his promotion when he lost the lease on the Olympic, but he was able to have 13 shows that grossed over $100,000.00 in 1988 and 1989, while this was when WWF, NWA and AWA were making 3 or 4 shows a year within 20 miles of the Olympic Auditorium from 1987 thru 1999. Lauer switched to Lucha Libra style shows in the late 80′s featuring the stars of AAA all brought in on a working visa from Mexico City until the closed promotion in 1994 after losing the lease to Able DeLuna who bought the Olympic master lease. He worked for 2 years as advisor for EMLL Americana which was owned by Able Deluna, AKA Luna Music who had bought the lease to the Olympic, and had the EMLL CONTRACT FOR California.

In 1992, Karl Lauer would quit that part of his wrestling career in California when he moved to Rolla, Missouri, where his son Wayne had set up a Flot-Aire factory. The wrestling promoting bug hit him again in 1995, when  he  founded World Legion Wrestling. He would hire the former 8-time NWA World Champion Harley Race to be the booker.

In 2000, he would sell WLW to Race who would change the name to World League Wrestling. A promotion that is still going today.

In 2000 Lauer’s integrity and respect would earn him a part time position with the Missouri Office of Athletics in the year 2000, a job that he still holds to this date.

Karl Lauer has been a positive influence to humanity, pro wrestling around the country for the past sixty plus years. In wrestling he has promoted, ring announced in and out the ring for CPW while on KODC_TV CHANNEL 56 in California and WLW. Lauer even managed pro wrestlers Prof Toa Tanaka, “Wildman” Jack Armstrong , Victor Rivera, John Tolos and Jay York in the ring. When asked about his wrestling career, Lauer stated, “I never consider myself as a wrestler, nor was I ever very good in the ring, but I always felt I was very good on the mic, and I could create, control and excite a crowd very well.”

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Lauer continued, “Wrestling was never my main source of income. Though I has made a lot of money at it, MFG and finance have always been my forte, from a kid who use to watch the greats in the 40’s and 50’s to selling peanuts at the Olympic Auditorium and other arenas around the Los Angeles areas to becoming a successful promoter has been the least to say a fun and a good ride.”

There is no doubt the reason why Karl Lauer was chosen unanimously as a MWR Lifetime Achievement award. During his life Karl Lauer has been a successful business leader, a Military Veteran in the United States Air Force, a wrestler, a manager, a announcer, a promoter and a key component for the success of the Cauliflower Alley Club. When he started with the CAC they had an estimated 368 members, throughout the years a little over 8,000 have been a part of the organization. Today the CAC is honored to boast an active number estimated of members around 2,000 living.

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Outside the ring, Lauer enjoys a successful marriage with his wife Barbara. The two were married on June 7, 1960 after meeting each other while both were in the Air Force. After 53 years the two cherish their time with the family. Karl and Barbara enjoy spending time with his son and daughter in law who also adopted two foster kids on the ranch and his three grandsons and 3 grand-daughters in Missouri. And 4 more in California. Of the 10 grand-kids 2 are engineers, 1 a 3rd year law student, one in the movie industry in California and 6 in high school.

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Karl Lauer’s family celebrates Thanksgiving 2013.

In and out of the ring, Karl Lauer has set the standard by leading by example at every goal that he has set. It is with great excitement that we are to honor Karl Lauer for his positive influence to pro wrestling around the country that has helped the reputation of the sport, while supporting the wrestlers and fans of the sport that we love.

3 Responses to “2013 MWR Lifetime Achievement Recipient Karl. K. Lauer”

  1. Darla said

    Karl is very deserving of this award….. Congratulations, Karl!!

  2. Michelle Starr said

    Thank you Karl for entertaining my phone calls at all hours. I was a 16 year old kid eager to learn about the business. You always had time for me. Congratulations on your achievement.

  3. Brian Blair said

    Karl, Wow you have been an over-achiever my friend! What a Beautiful family and so much more… I’m proud of you for many reasons and I thank you for mentoring me in the CAC… hope I can do at least half of the job you did and continue to do. God Bless and keep on living and loving life my friend!

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