WATCH: Squire Barnes profiles Jim Vilvang, the wrestler turned lawyer.
Jim Vilvang has been fighting for clients as a Vancouver lawyer for decades.
But in an earlier life, he doled out justice in an entirely different way.
Known as “Jim Dimitri”, he was a professional wrestler across British Columbia in the 1970s. By day, he was a young lawyer, but by night, he was fighting alongside stars like Jesse “The Body” Ventura or Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Every month he would compete in towns large and small – including in Global BC’s Burnaby studios, where a weekly show was taped.
Vilvang said the pay wasn’t that good – $15 for a TV taping, and a percentage of ticket sales for non-televised “house” shows. But for a while, it was enough to keep the dream alive.
“I could have been a serviceable wrestler, maybe at that time making a living. That was the maximum of my potential. Which may have been a real career option. I was just starting out in law, and wasn’t necessarily committed to it.”
However, Vilvang didn’t fully commit to the ring and still was practicing law. Promoters soon decided that Vilvang didn’t have what it took to be a star.
“When I first started I got my share of wins in the out of town non-televised matches,” he said. “They were thinking of developing me. But they realized I wouldn’t be working regularly…and so I was made into a jobber.”
In wrestling terms, a “jobber” is designated to lose most of his matches, in order to make other talent look good. Vilvang didn’t mind though.
“It didn’t bother me, I had fun,” he said, joking that he forgot what he finishing move was because he got to use it so rarely.
“If I would have said [I'm not losing], my phone would have stopped ringing. I could threaten to move to a different territory, and see if I could get a better shot. But I wasn’t going anywhere, and they knew I didn’t have any bargaining power.”
Later in his career, Vilvang in Western Canada may also know him as Tyrone MacBeth, the villainous commissioner in Stampede Wrestling during the 1980’s. Eventually, he gave up the profession entirely, but he still keeps a soft spot the squared circle.
“In both law and wrestling there’s a real sense of congeniality.”
© Shaw Media, 2014