Grant Keltner

Tough Tony Borne

“Tough Tony Borne” By Grant Keltner

One of the funnier times I had growing up in Northwest Portland was when a very famous local wrestler by the name of Tony Borne visited my family one night.

Tony Borne was a famous local celebrity, a professional wrestler in Portland. Every Saturday night Tony would grapple with the likes of Lonnie Main, Dutch Savage, Shag Thomas and many other local wrestlers out of the Pacific Northwest. The matches were televised live every Saturday night. Growing up as a kid, it was the best show on television. I would watch the show with my friends, sometimes with my grandma. We loved it. My friends and I would wrestle in the living room, the bedroom, and out in the yard. Atomic drops, full nelsons and head butts were landed. Many a night I would go to bed with bumps and bruises.

Now and then, my mom use to dine at the Ringside restaurant. It’s located on Northwest Burnside and is famous for its steaks.  Local sport celebrities use to stop in and have a bite at the Ringside.

One night Mom was dining with her friends. It was raining and she brought her rain coat, she handed it to the head waiter when she arrived, he hung it up on the coat rack for her, and she went on to enjoy her meal. It just so happens that Tony Borne was eating at the Ringside that night. About half way through her meal, Tony Borne finished his dinner and walked over to the coat rack to get his rain coat. He had a rain coat very similar to my mother’s. They handed him my mother’s coat and he walked out the door.

When finished with her meal, my mother went to the coat rack and asked for her coat. When they returned they hadn’t found it. Mom left her phone number and asked that they call her when they located it.

The next day, she received a phone call from the Ringside. “Mrs. Keltner, we’ve found your rain coat.” It was the waiter from the Ringside.

“Where is it?” inquired my mother.

“Well Mrs. Keltner, Tony Borne was given your rain coat by mistake. He would like to stop by your place and return it.”

Tony Borne use to eat drinking glasses on television, hit guys in the head with chairs, and looked like a bloody mess half the time he wrestled. I think he was missing a few teeth. Now, he was going to stop in and give my mom her rain coat. Would he want to wrestle her for the coat, I thought to myself.

He called my mother that night and it was decided he would stop in the next day, around dinner time. “Hello Mrs. Keltner this is Tough Tony Borne. I’ll be stoppin’ by tomorrow night to drop off your rain coat,” said Tony on the other end of the phone.

“Well Mr. Borne that will be fine,” replied my mother. I didn’t know what to think. I told everybody at school about Tony Borne stopping in to visit.

The next day, about twenty kids met me after school to make sure they could see Tony. Around dinner time all the kids gathered out in the front of my mother’s place. A car pulled up and Tony Borne got out. All of my friends went nuts; they screamed, yelled, and hyperventilated just to get a glimpse of Tough Tony. They ran over to his car and begged him for his autograph. It was wild! He talked with the kids and walked up to the front door and knocked. One of my friends was actually hanging from his coat sleeve. My mother answered the door. “Mrs. Keltner, I’m Tony Bourne!” He exclaimed.

“Well Mr. Bourne, it’s very nice to meet you!” said my mother. I hid behind my mother trying to get a glimpse of this amazing icon. He was fairly short, maybe 5’6″, and wide as a Mack truck. His arms were huge and his face looked like a worn catcher’s mitt.

“I guess I grabbed da wrong coat,” said Tony.

“Well yes, it appears that you did,” said my mother.

He handed my mother her coat and smiled. “Well, I need to go. Tanks!” replied Tony. He got in his car and drove off, with all of my friends running after his car.

My mom could have run for mayor and won in a landslide that night. All of my friends treated her like a queen; it was great. She served ice cream to all of them. I had new friends that never gave me the time of day, up until being invited to see this amazing wrestler. I have his autograph tucked away in a box of memories. It was one of the best nights in my life.

Leave a Reply