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Celebrating legendary wrestler 'The Crusher's' legacy in South Milwaukee

Posted at 3:54 PM, Jun 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-06 16:54:59-04

SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Hey ya turkey necks! Do you know who is probably the most famous person to ever come from the city of South Milwaukee? It has to be Reggie "The Crusher" Lisowski.

This icon, who once flew of the ropes in the wrestling ring, is now enshrined in bronze as a symbol of South Milwaukee. In fact, the city has held multiple festivals in this famous wrestlers honor. They call it Crusherfest. It will return the first weekend of June 2023 after being canceled in 2022.

“All I can tell you right now is it’s going to be bigger and better than ever," Peggy Clark, the chairperson of Crusherfest, said.

The Crusher's exploits are well known, but it's always good to re-introduce this South Milwaukee legend in case you forgot what he did or if you haven't heard of him before.

“He is something that synonymous with South Milwaukee, and everywhere you go, everyone you talk to has something to say. They went to school with him. They were his mailman. They had coffee at Lloyd’s Lunch," Clark said.

The Crusher was born in South Milwaukee in July 1926. He served in the army during World War II and was stationed in Germany. That's where he first took up wrestling. To fund his early career, he worked as a meatpacker and bricklayer to make ends met.

He began to see success as a tag team wrestler. However, it was once he went solo and began wrestling in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in the 1960's that his popularity skyrocketed. He won three AWA heavy weight championships and America fell in love with him - particularly the middle class.

In the mid-1980's, he switched over to the World Wrestling Federation when other wrestlers like Hulk Hogan also switched over. His last official match was in 1988.

“So it was just something really obtainable for everybody. The Crusher was obtainable, you know. Nowadays the wrestlers aren’t obtainable. The Crusher lived and breathed in this community. He was about being real," Clark said.

He was often introduced with the saying ‘The Man Who Made Milwaukee Famous’ a play on the old Schlitz beer slogan ‘The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous.’ But it was South Milwaukee that he called home.

"His family roots. His loyalty. It was always about his family, whether it be about his family or his wrestling family. He was a family guy," Clark said.

The Crusher lived to be 79 until he died from a brain tumor in 2005. Now he is cast in bronze. Since 2019, the city has celebrated him during Crusherfest. It was postponed for the second year but will be back the first weekend of June 2023.

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