Wrestling Legend & Trainer Dominic DeNucci Passes Away
Dominic DeNucci, a wrestling legend who trained the likes of Mick Foley and Shane Douglas, has passed away. The Cauliflower Alley Club announced on Thursday night that DeNucci passed away at the age of 89. No details as of yet on the circumstances of his passing.
DeNucci is best known to modern wrestling fans as the man who trained Foley, Douglas, Brian Hildebrand, and many others through his wrestling school. Before he was known as a trainer though, DeNucci had a legendary in-ring career in his own right. Born in Italy, DeNucci was an amateur wrestler in his youth and made his wrestling debut in 1958 at the age of 26. He worked his first match as the Masked Marvel against Johnny Rougeau in Montreal. He moved on from that gimmick to play Dominic Bravo, the kayfabe brother of the original Dino Bravo, and tagged together throughout Canada. They came to Calgary and worked for Stampede Wrestling in 1962 and 1963, and after DeNucci left he began wrestling under his own name.
DeNucci had stints in Australia’s World Championship Wrestling in the 1960s, as well as for various promotions like Big Time Wrestling in Detroit, NWA San Francisco, and others. He won multiple titles during this time and also worked several tours in Japan with Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance in the 1970s. DeNucci worked for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (and its successor, the WWF) starting in 1967. He won the WWWF International Tag Team Championship with Bruno Sammartino in June of 1971, holding it for two weeks before they dropped them back to The Mongols, and had two runs with the WWWF World Tag Team Championship. One of those runs was with the second Dino Bravo. He had several matches with Pat Patterson for Patterson’s inaugural Intercontinental Championship reign.
DeNucci left the WWF in 1982 and worked for Montreal’s Lutte Internationale, as well as the AWA. He retired in 1987 after returning to the WWF for a one-night appearance in a legends battle royale.
After DeNucci retired, he opened a wrestling school in Pittsburgh. Mick Foley has spoken often about training under DeNucci, and he was featured prominently in several specials about Foley’s career. DeNucci also didn’t shy away from occasional returns to the ring; his final match saw him team with his former student Shane Douglas to beat Lord Zoltan and Shawn Blanchard in Toronto in April of 2012 at the age of 80. He was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.