Valerie Boesch | Celebrating Wrestling’s Longtime Heart

I was totally floored today, as many were just learning today about Valerie Boesch’s death. She passed away on March 23rd, 2020. None of us knew until now, which is heartbreaking. I would’ve Zoomed to Texas to pay love and respect forward for this Great Wrestling Lady. Many others, upon hearing the sad news, soon began grieving her passing online. As we’re celebrating wrestling’s longtime heart, Valerie Boesch.

Since her husband Paul’s death in 1989 at their adopted longtime home of Sugar Land, Texas, she had devoted her life to taking care of their son Joey. Val and Paul were already semi-regular Cauliflower Alley Club presences in the mid-’80s when our reunions were just luncheons in downtown Los Angelos. They took place at the Old Spaghetti Factory and other spots near wrestling palace since the 1932 Olympic Games in the Olympic Auditorium.

Until we morphed those informal CAC “no heat, just breaking bread events into annual one night(Saturdays) big-time award banquets at the Sportsman’s Lodge Lodge and Garden in the L.A. Valley. Our CAC founder Mike Mazurki(wrestling great, even greater Hollywood legend), according to Val, “was especially fond of Paul and vice versa, and they talked back in the day often.”

Valerie Boesch

But wrestling’s Valerie Boesch was more than just a legendary wrestler and promoter’s widow. More than just a counterpart to the Rock’s mom Ata Maivia Johnson, attending CAClub and most other wrestling reunions and functions each year. And more than just the loving caretaker of her son Joey with Paul, who had special needs.

Joey was born blind and partially deaf and needed his parents’ constant attention since birth. But he was also a music prodigy or “savant.” He could listen to a complex song just once (one of his first was Flight of the Bumblebee,” Val told me) and then play(as well as sing if there were lyrics)it perfectly note for note. He had many local and national tv news networks, newspapers, magazines, and more records and alerted the public of his genius gift.

When Paul died, Valerie Boesch continued bringing Joey each year to CAC, both in Los Angeles. Then when we moved things to Vegas (the Strip’s Riviera Hotel our first home there) in 2000 where Jason Sanderson and others helped us morph once again into a 3+ day extravaganza annual event with vendor rooms, eventual lectures, and panels, there were two affiliated nights of wrestling by some of the top indie stars and veterans, and two nights of awards.

After Paul’s Passing

And something that began just as a semi-private club for those involved in wrestling to then includes fans from all over the globe. Val was never formally on our board, but when I was on the board in the ’90s, she at times attended and spoke when she felt passionate about things. Starting in 1991, Joey began playing piano on our stage before our award nights began and often during breaks and intermissions. Meaning he’d forgo eating like everyone else to entertain us with classical music, show, and popular tunes, and more. When he had a documentary and album released I believe in 1999, Val helped him even more on stage by holding the mike while he sang standards, covers, and his compositions.

Valerie Boesch was regarded at times with the same kind of industry respect as female promoters like Ann Gunkel and ‘Miss Christine’ Jarrett, total legends. Always dressed to the nines(especially her famous “Dynasty and Dallas sequined ball gowns just for our CAC awards banquets” as she called them), but entirely down to Earth. She carried on donating her time to Paul’s many charities like The Boys Clubs of Texas besides her new-found ones, never afraid to “get my hands dirty.”

She’d volunteered to help build Habitat For Humanity homes for the homeless, for example, near where she lived. After years of nagging, I finally got Jim Ross to attend his first CAC. He didn’t let Val or I down bringing his pal Stone Cold(Steve Williams, aka Austin) with him that year. But Jim made a beeline to talk with Val when he first entered our second-floor banquet room, spotting her fairly quickly. Steve Williams did the same when we first got him to CAC as well.

A Legend’s Legend

Paul was, of course, the legend’s legend, but Val herself was a helluva lady and “champeen” in her own right. We’ve called her one of the hearts and souls of CAC along with fellow CAC regulars Tiger and Inita Conway Senior, “my two best Houston friends,” as she called them.

When Moolah/Lil and Johnnie Mae Young took over the Ladies International Wrestling Association/LIWA about late 1993, they were the first to hold their annual reunions in Vegas(but over on Fremont Street at the Union Plaza Hotel). CAC held two annual Vegas reunions there years later before finally moving things permanently to the Gold Coast. Tiger, Karl Lauer, and others, including myself, were on Lil and Mae’s LIWA board, and we all nagged Valerie to lend her brilliant, bright smile to one of them.

She, in turn, bugged Buddy Rogers widow Debbie and son to come all the way in as well from their Florida home (just weeks after Buddy died in that freak hospital accident as he was to have been honored). Valerie not only was put on the LIWA board but also managed Moolah and Mae as heel “Vicious Valerie” on their annual show, taking on some of the top young indie women on the planet like HOFamers Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto from All Japan Women, LIWA Board Member Britney Brown, and a young short red-haired Joanie Lauer who’d later become WWE’s Chyna and many others.

The World’s Biggest Heart

Valerie Boesch
Photo / Dr. Mike Lano
Val, with the world’s biggest heart, gave playing heel her best shot but wrestling’s very first Nature Boy, Bud-Ro as we called him, would say she was just too sweetheart of a lady to ever get booed.” Valerie Boesch did get a standing ovation and even interfered and handed some “international, foreign” objects to still Women’s Champ, Moolah. Plus a loaded queen’s crown to “Johnnie” Mae Young during their bouts. Joey just grinned at the piano in the back of the ballroom, having been told what his mom was “up to.”
Possibly the most beloved(amongst the athletes in this business) American-based promoter ever(and that covers a lot of “territory”) was Val’s husband Paul Max Boesch who we lost March 7 in 1989. Paul was a decorated pro wrestler himself, helped introduce Helen to Stu Hart in Long Beach, NY along with Lord James Blears, but best known as Houston Wrestling’s Promoter/Announcer. As with his peer, Giant Shohei Baba; Paul treated talent with dignity, respect and fair to fantastic paychecks.
Army-enlisted and decorated Paul began as a pro in the 1930’s and it’s said his draw on 11/25/38 with Pat Meehan in Calgary(where Paul of course stayed at Stu’s home) was perhaps his best match while he was still a greenhorn. He put his in-ring career on hold when his 8th Army Infantry Division deployed him to Europe immediately after the D-Day landings and invasion. Paul was right in the thick of the U.S. offensive against Hitler and Nazi Germany as a Company G Commanding Officer.

The Battle Of Hurtgen Forest

Leading his company into one of the reported “bloodiest and most desperate battles on the Western Front (The Battle Of Hurtgen Forest),” Paul was seriously injured by a German shell and his unit took heavy casualties. But he kept fighting hard. Paul was later awarded The Purple Heart, upper-tier Silver and Bronze Stars, the French Crooix de Guerrer with Stars, Distinguished Unit Citation and Combat Infantryman Badge and more after the Allies won WW2.
In short, Val’s husband was a major hero and not just in wrestling. CAC’s own Jim Ross and Bill Watts have stated publicly that they believe Boesch should be enshrined in WWE’s HOFame as well as all others. Iowa’s Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted him in 2005 besides citing him deservedly as the “face of Texas and Professional Wrestling.” In 1996, he was also elected into Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame as a charter member.
But most important to Paul, was the love and respect from all the wrestlers who worked for him and considered him as family as stated in his 1966 poetry book “Much Of Me In Each Of These” as well as his own autobio, “Hey Boy, Where’d You Get Them Ears?” published in 2001. Paul also wrote two other books. Road To Huertgen: Forest In Hell in 1962 about his time as a WW2 soldier and commander and The Career of Paul Boesch-One Man, One Sport, One Lifetime in 1981, his first autobio. I need to get ahold of old pals and fellow Houstonites “Dr” Tom and his “WWE Booking Doctor”. He is the brother of Bruce Pritchard to see if they have any copies of these classics.

A Protector and Loving Caretaker

Valerie was son Joey’s protector and loving caretaker. “It’s my number one job in life and I’m privileged to be doing it,” as Val often said.  Many of us who’d been to their home now worry what will happen to Joey. We also don’t worry how he’s handling this devastating loss to us all.


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