Monday, December 05, 2011


Angelo Mosca-Tell Me to my Face!

Angelo Mosca is seventy-four years old. He walks with the assistance of a cane, on well-used knees. He has seen his share of pain and suffering in his years, after decades of football and professional wrestling.

Many of us remember Angelo from his days as a fierce player in the Canadian Football League. He began his career with the Hamilton Tiger Cats in 1958, spent seasons with the Ottawa Rough Riders and the Montreal Alouettes, and finished in 1972 with the Tiger Cats.

Along with John Barrow, Mosca was a stellar defensive lineman with the Ticats. He was an all star five times. He participated in nine Grey Cup games, more than any other player. He won a Cup with The Riders in 1960, and four more with the Tiger Cats.

Angelo Mosca filled up a lot of space, standing at six feet, six inches, tipping the scales at three hundred pounds. He was agile when need be, and took few prisoners. He played mean, and often disagreed with referees when they threw flags. On one notable occasion, he stepped over the line.

It was in the Grey Cup game in 1963, when the Tiger Cats were playing the British Columbia Lions. Mosca hit running back Willie Fleming a little late, slightly out of bounds. Fleming did not return to play in that game, and the Ticats went on to win the Cup. Lions fans were incensed, as was their quarterback, Joe Kapp. That wound festered until recently, when Kapp and Mosca appeared on stage at a luncheon prior to this year’s Grey Cup game. The purpose of the meal was to raise awareness of post-concussion syndrome, something experienced by many professional athletes who have played contact sports.

Kapp and Mosca exchanged pleasantries at the luncheon. The powers-that-be thought it would be cute to show a video of Mosca’s hit on Fleming, some forty-eight years ago. One thing led to another when Mosca took a swipe at Kapp, dodged a right cross, then landed in a clump on the stage with Kapp. That has created a media frenzy throughout North America, watched millions of times on all major networks, on countless web sites. Nothing more than a couple of old foes scuffling on a stage.

Kapp has never shied away from controversy, even as a coach. But he was also a fine quarterback, and the only player in history to play in the Rose Bowl game, the Super Bowl, and the Grey Cup.

Mosca went on to the world of professional wrestling following his Hall of Fame football career. When I met him in Toronto, I asked him, slightly tongue-in-cheek, if any of the matches were “pre-arranged”. He scoffed at the notion. “I wrestled all of the greats,” he told me. “In fact, someone recently told me that I went into the ring 117 times with Andre the Giant.”

Steve Milton has covered the sporting scene for the Hamilton Spectator for many years. He sat down with Mosca for several sessions which has resulted in the book about Mosca’s life entitled, “Tell me to my Face”.

Notes from the blurb about the book include: “The intimate and inspiring story of my journey from a hard scrabble upbringing to playing in a record nine Grey Cups, becoming the most hated man in the CFL, and wrestling as the infamous “King Kong” Mosca.” His childhood was not pleasant: his father was racist and abusive, his mother was half-black, (his words), and an alcoholic. “Once I left home, I had no respect for my parents. They didn’t want me, so I didn’t want them.” Pretty tough circumstances.

The telling of his tale was certainly an epiphany for Mosca. “I never even told my best friends some of this stuff. I feel good about doing the book.” There were moments in his sessions with Milton when tears rolled down the old warrior’s cheeks. Understandably so.

The book is available at your local book store, on line, and at your library. Well worth the read.

James Hurst
December 5, 2011

I remember walking into the Rose Boel Lanes in NDG(Montreal)and the place was packed, circa 1970ish,
heard a booming voice from from way over and guess who, Angie...he was not mthe most personable person........

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