Wrestling announcer is his second job
By ELIZABETH BLOOM
The night before the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance’s FanFest last month, Thomas Leturgey couldn’t sleep.
Leturgey, a bespectacled, 50-year-old, self-described former superhero kid, does not wrestle with the KSWA, Pittsburgh’s professional wrestling promotion. But like many wrestlers, he leads a couple of lives.
By day, he works for a magistrate. By day and night, he works game-day security for the Pirates at PNC Park. And by night — well, at least one night a month — he is Trapper Tom, the ring announcer for the KSWA.
Like larger promotions, the KSWA features predetermined fights between heels (bad guys) and faces (good guys), with names such as BROhemoth, “Big Country” Matt McGraw, Justin Sane and YINZA, the Pittsburgh luchador.
For Leturgey, FanFest isn’t just any wrestling event.
“It’s like Christmas Day to me,” he said. “My wife said, ‘Really?’”
FanFest was held at Spirit, a converted Moose Lodge in the city’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. The room had two-toned gray flooring and smelled faintly of a high-school gym. Around 550 KSWA fans, called Krazies, arrived early to find seats, enter the 50/50 raffle and buy $1 hot dogs.
In this space, every chair is ringside, and that’s by design. The KSWA is the heir apparent to Pittsburgh’s Studio Wrestling show, which toured the region from the 1950s to 1970s, Leturgey said.
“First and foremost, the KSWA to me is a tribute, a throwback to wrestling, the way it was in the days of old as compared to how it is nowadays,” said KSWA owner Bob Orkwis, known to Krazies as “Bobby O.”
Growing up in Cambria County, Leturgey didn’t have cable TV, but he watched “The Incredible Hulk,” devoured comic books, played Wiffle ball and fell in love with the 1979 Pirates.
He met Orkwis while working on the radio station at California University of Pennsylvania, and they bonded over their shared love of the Pirates, wrestling and music. In 2005, when Orkwis bought the KSWA and was looking for a new announcer, he turned to Leturgey, who has appeared at more than 200 KSWA events.
In 2007, after a divorce, Leturgey was looking for a way to supplement his then-day job as a real-estate agent, so he started working game-day security at PNC Park. It’s turned out well for Leturgey, who met his wife, Marion, an Aramark supervisor, at the ballpark.
The wrestlers also have regular jobs, as Uber drivers and steelworkers and union carpenters. At KWSA events, though, they transform into Joey Cuervo (“The Drunken Luchador”), T-Rantula and Lord Zoltan. Before their fights, they wait behind a red curtain. Then, Leturgey’s clarion voice announces their arrivals: “First, the challenger. He weighs in at 320 pounds. He is BROhemoth!”