Saskatchewan's wrestling community is mourning the loss of one of its favourite bad guys.
John Cozman "Principal Richard Pound", lost his long battle with cancer on Monday, Nov. 28. He was 52.
Over the course of his over 20-year career, Cozman wrestled for many promotions including both Stampede Wrestling and Regina-based wrestling promotion High Impact Wrestling.
Wavell Starr has known Cozman for almost 20 years and had the opportunity to step in the ring with him on more than one occasion.
"He was an awesome worker and I think he was really good at making people believe," Starr said.
Cozman got his start in the business in the 1980s and was trained by Stampede Wrestling legend Archie (The Stomper) Gouldie.
The “Principal” name would essentially be given to him in the late 90s by Bruce Hart, member of the famous Hart wrestling family, when Cozman was working for Stampede Wrestling.
Starr said he always enjoyed watching Cozman perform.
"Just a very believable villain character, he really had that ability to get people to take notice of him," he said.
Behind the curtain, Starr said Cozman was a very different man, describing him as gentle, soft spoken and very polite. Cozman came from a different generation of wrestlers and often kept to himself but would offer advice when asked.
Starr and Cozman travelled together on many occasions to various towns and cities, and Starr feels they had a special bond.
"As the years went by, we tended to only see each other at the times when we were working together but like they say in the business of professional wresting, you can go a long time without seeing somebody and the time you see them you can pick it up right where you left off," Starr said.
Cozman's passing comes almost 11 months after the death of HIW promoter and announcer Bob Leonard.
Starr said the loss of both men is tremendous and both unfortunate.
HIW Owner Mike Roberts posted an emotional statement on Facebook after hearing of Cozman’s passing.
Here is an excerpt from that posting:
"I learned a lot from John over the many years we knew each other. Not only in-ring lessons, but how to carry yourself in the locker room. It's been said over and over again, John was one of the few true gentlemen in an industry full of hustlers and carnies,” he wrote.
Speaking with paNOW, Roberts said Cozman was a real mentor to him and modeled much of his own career after what he had learned from Cozman. Roberts recalled one of his early matches with Cozman, when he still very fresh to the business and Cozman was known as a "grizzled veteran."
"To my surprise, Principal Pound took care of me throughout the match that night. In fact, he made me look like a million bucks. Like a deserving champion that managed to hold the vastly experienced challenger at bay long enough to score the crucial victory to retain the title. There were a number of times throughout that he could have taken advantage of my obvious inexperience and made me look like the fresh meat I was, but instead, took a rookie with a belt and turned him into a legitimate champion. He did exactly what a professional would do in the name of good business and progressing the product and program."
A celebration of life for friends and family of Cozman will be held in Regina at the Italian Club Dec. 7.
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell
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