2020 has taken another wrestling luminary as Al Vass, who wrestled as Al Samson before becoming a referee under his real name, has passed away. In a report by SILive, Vass passed away on Friday evening in Staten Island at the age of 86.
Vass was born and raised in Brooklyn and then Queens, eventually working out at Adonis Health Club in Brooklyn. He got to know a wrestler by the name of Dollar Morgan and became interested in the business, training under Ave Coleman and wrestling in the late 1950s. After he became a supervisor for gas company Brooklyn Union, he quit competing in the ring and became a referee through the New York State Athletic Commission.
Vass worked in New York and New Jersey and would referee an afternoon match followed by an evening one, doing shows across the board including in Madison Square Garden for televised events. Bruno Sammartino, then the WWWF Champion, would specifically request him for matches as he was a former in-ring performer.
Vass worked for several promotions including regular work for WWWF and then the WWF. He refereed all the way until 2001 when he retired from the ring and became a security guard for St. George Library in the city. He was laid to rest on Monday morning at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village in Queens.