Tom Packs Circus, in St. Louis, United States.
Tom Packs (1894-1964) was among the preeminent professional wrestling promoters during the first half of the 20th century. Moreover, he was also responsible for single-handedly building one of the nation’s most prestigious regions, while giving rise to two of the sport’s central figures. Anthanasios Pakiotis was originally born in Greece on August 15, 1894, though he would eventually become part of the flood of turn-of-the-century Eastern European immigrants when his parents brought him to the United States in 1907. Upon entering the country, his name was anglicized to Thomas Nicholas Packs; and his family then settled in Chicago, which subsequently played host to a pro wrestling boom period during his teenage years (as Packs thus witnessed the sport’s two high-profile encounters between Georg Hackenschmidt and Frank Gotch). Moreover, one of Packs’ relatives, John Contos, had begun promoting wrestling matches in St. Louis during the early 1920s, and Packs subsequently joined him in 1922 as a partner at age 28.
Following World War II, Packs was eventually forced to relinquish his promotion after losing $350,000 in the stock market. And so, in 1947, he sold Tom Packs Sport Enterprises, Inc. to the Mississippi Valley Sports Club, which was headed by Lou Thesz and his father, Martin. In subsequent years, Thesz would eventually merge the operation with Sam Muchnick’s group after the formation of the National Wrestling Alliance; and the two Packs protégés would eventually go on to rule the sport for the next three decades while establishing St. Louis as the capital of the wrestling world. Meanwhile, Packs continued to stay involved in event promotions as he ran the Thrill Circus throughout the 1950s before he died in October 1964. Though his name is not well-known amongst today’s fans, his place in history remains secure as the foremost pioneer of wrestling’s celebrated St. Louis territory. Packs was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 2007.