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Leo Nomellini
American football player and professional wrestler

Leo Nomellini

Leo Nomellini
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American football player and professional wrestler
A.K.A. Leo "The Lion" Nomellini
Was Athlete American football player Wrestler
From Italy
Field Sports
Gender male
Birth 19 June 1924, Lucca
Death 17 October 2000, Stanford (aged 76 years)
Star sign Gemini
The details (from wikipedia)


Leo Joseph Nomellini (June 19, 1924 – October 17, 2000) was a Hall of Fame American football offensive and defensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers and professional wrestler. He played college football for Minnesota.

Early life

Nomellini was born at Lucca, Tuscany, Italy, and immigrated to the United States as an infant to Minnesota, before later moving to Chicago, Illinois where he attended Crane High School. After high school, he joined the Marine Corps. It was there that in 1942, he first started playing football.

After the war, he received a football scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where be became a two-time All-American and the 49ers' first-ever NFL draft choice in 1950.

Professional career

Nomellini was selected in the 1st round (11th overall) of the 1950 NFL draft, the first draft pick in the history of the San Francisco 49ers. As a professional, he appeared in 174 regular-season games and 266 games in total for his 14-year career.

While with the 49ers, he played both offensive and defensive tackle, winning All-Pro honors at both positions. He was selected to the All-NFL team six times: two years on offense and four years on defense. "He was as strong as three bulls," said 49ers teammate Joe Perry. "He'd slap you on the back and knock you twenty feet." Nomellini was named to the NFL's all-time team as a defensive tackle. In 1969, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and in 1977, the College Football Hall of Fame.

Professional wrestling

NWA San Francisco

During the off-season Nomellini often wrestled professionally as Leo "The Lion" Nomellini debuting in Minnesota in 1950. For his career, he was a 10 tag team champion. He won his first tag team championship on March 14, 1952 when he teamed Hombre Montana. The duo defeated Mike Sharpe and Ben Sharpe for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) . Four months later, Nomelini and Gino Garibaldi won the NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Championship. In April 1953, Nomellini regained the NWA Pacific Coast Tag Team Championship while teaming with Enrique Torres when they defeated Fred and Ray Atkins. Nomellini and Torres defeated the Mike and Ben Sharpe on May 6, 1953 for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version). On May 11, 1954 Nomellini teamed with Rocky Brown to defeat the Sharpes and win the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version). In 1957, Nomellini, again teaming with Torres, defeated Lord James Blears and Ben Sharpe for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version).

While working for the National Wrestling Alliance, Nomellini once defeated Lou Thesz in a two-out-of-three falls match, but was not awarded the NWA World Heavyweight Championship because the first fall was a disqualification.

NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club/American Wrestling Association

Nomellini would leave NWA San Francisco to head to Minnesota to work for Verne Gagne and the NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club.

On May 15, 1958, Nomellini, teaming with Verne Gange defeated Mike and Doc Gallagher for the NWA World Tag Team Championship (Minneapolis version). He would win the title again on July 14, 1959 while teaming with Butch Levy and defeated Karol and Ivan Kalmikoff. He would win it for the last time on July 19, 1960, once again teaming with Gagne and defeating Stan Kowalski and Tiny Mills.

Nomellini won his final professional wrestling championship on May 23, 1961 when he and Wilbur Snyder defeated Gene Kiniski and Hard Boiled Haggerty for the AWA World Tag Team Championship.


Nomellini died on October 17, 2000 after suffering a stroke.

In wrestling

  • Finishing moves
    • Flying tackle

Championships and accomplishments

  • NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club - American Wrestling Association
  • AWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Wilbur Snyder
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship (Minneapolis version) (3 times) - with Verne Gagne (2) and Butch Levy (1)
  • NWA San Francisco
  • NWA World Tag Team Championship (San Francisco version) (4 times) - with Hombre Montana (1), Enrique Torres (2), and Rocky Brown (1)

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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