Share This Page

Wrestler Baron Scicluna's evil persona belied gentle nature

Baron Mikel Scicluna, a quiet, reserved man in real life, had a successful career as a villainous professional wrestler who fans loved to hate.

Michael J. Scicluna of Ross, who entered the ring wearing a long, burgundy cape during his heyday on television and at countless wrestling shows at high school gyms and fire halls throughout the region, died Sunday, March 21, 2010, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

"He was nothing like his wrestling character. To the fans, he was the mean, wicked Baron Scicluna. That was just his ring persona," said his son, Michael V. Scicluna of Millvale. "He was rather reserved and quiet. I remember as a kid going to the store and people would be standing in line saying, 'There's that dirty, no-good, so and so.' But he was just a laid back, gentle giant. Everybody loved him."

Mr. Scicluna, who would be introduced in the ring as being "from the Isle of Malta," actually was a native of Malta. He was in his early 20s when he immigrated and settled in Toronto, where he began his professional wrestling career as "Mike Valentino" in the early 1950s.

He wrestled throughout Canada and the United States before joining what was then known as The World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1965 to make life miserable for fan favorites Bruno Sammartino and Dominic DeNucci.

He was a staple on Channel 11's "Studio Wrestling," hosted by Bill Cardille.

"He loved it when they booed him, to him that was applause," Cardille said with a laugh. "He was a villain, but you knew when you talked to him that he was a gentleman. He treated everyone with respect. Anybody that crossed his path and got to know him even a little bit knows Baron Scicluna as an outstanding person and gentle man."

Mr. Scicluna, who retired from the ring in 1984 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, spent some time as a delivery driver for the New York Times before coming back in Pittsburgh nearly 20 years ago to watch his two grandsons grow.

In addition to his son and grandsons, Scicluna is survived by his wife of 52 years, Gloria Clifton Scicluna, and a sister, Teresa Longstaff of England.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the T.B. Devlin Funeral Home, 806 Perry Highway, Ross, where a blessing service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.