Jonnie Stewart

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Jonnie Stewart
Born (1967-03-04) March 4, 1967 (age 55)[1][2]
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.[1][2]
ResidenceDeerfield, Illinois, U.S.[2]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)"The Illustrious" Jonnie Stewart[1]
Billed height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)[2]
Billed weight262 lb (119 kg)[2]
Billed fromPacific Pallisades, California
Trained byBuddy Wayne[1][2]
Jerry Bryant[1]
DebutApril 23, 1986[1][2]
Retired2012[1][2] Logo.png Search Jonnie Stewart on Amazon.

Jonnie Stewart is a retired American professional wrestler. He is best known for competing in the American Wrestling Association on ESPN, World Wrestling Association (WWA) and AWA Superstars of Wrestling / Wrestling Superstars Live. Despite his almost 30 year wrestling career, Stewart is probably best known for being mistaken for the Comedy Central Jon Stewart in 2006 when he was accidentally hired to appear and host a gala charity event at a charter high school in Ogden, Utah.[3]

Professional wrestling career[edit]

In the Winter of 1986, while playing for the University of Memphis football team, Stewart quit during the Spring practice session to begin training under Memphis legend, Buddy Wayne. After three months of training, Stewart made his professional wrestling debut on April 23, 1986 at the Tad Smith Coliseum in Oxford, MS, for Jerry Jarrett and his Mid-South Wrestling in Memphis, TN. He was part of a tag-team named the Beach Boys with Van Van Horne. In the Winter of 1987 Stewart moved on to the Indianapolis area's WWA.

After a Summer working for Dick the Bruiser Stewart helped former AWA worker Sam DeCero start Windy City Pro Wrestling.

In 1989, he was offered a multi-year, six-figure contract with WCW but the deal was rescinded by Ric Flair and in 1989 he was then signed to a two-year contract with the American Wrestling Association on ESPN.

Using the gimmick of a spoiled rich brat heel Stewart quickly rose to main event status and worked with stars Kokina Maximus, Sgt. Slaughter and Paul Diamond and quickly became one of the Verne Gagne's top heels.[4] His final match for Gagne was on August 11, 1990 for the AWA World Light Heavyweight Championship against Buck Zumhofe. Gagne awarded Zumhofe the championship when he learned that Stewart had enrolled to played football for the 1990 season for North Park University.

Independent circuit and championship success (1996 –2012)[edit]

In 1996, Stewart and former AWA employee Dale Gagne started AWA Superstars of Wrestling / Wrestling Superstars Live[4] In June 1996, he defeated Larry Gilgorovich at the Mayo Field in Rochester, MN for the AWA Superstars World Heavyweight Championship, losing it three years later to King Kong Bundy.[4]

On August 18, 2012, Stewart officially retired from pro wrestling when doctors deemed him PUP, physically unable to perform, just days before a World Heavyweight title match with The Honky Tonk Man at a show in Rockford, IL.[5]

Political career[edit]

Stewart was approached by the Illinois Republican Party in 1996 about entering politics. He then entered the 1998 political race for the Illinois House of Representatives in Chicago's Gold Coast 11th District. Stewart's campaign consultant was Kellyanne Conway, who eventually became the campaign manager of President Donald Trump.

In 1999, Stewart ran unsuccessfully for the United States Congress in the Illinois' 10th congressional district in an eleven-way race. In what national newspapers called, one of the dirtiest congressional primaries in modern history, Stewart lost to later United States Senator Mark Kirk.[6] Feature stories on Stewart's campaign ran in the: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times. In what shocked many wrestling journalists, the New York Times ran a full feature article on Stewart and wrestler Bob Backlund who was also running for Congress in Connecticut. The two also appeared together on the Hannity & Colmes cable news show.

He ran again in 2005 during in a special election for the vacated seat of Rahm Emanuel in the Illinois' 5th congressional district, losing that race as well.[7]

Stewart unsuccessfully ran for the Libertarian nomination for Governor of Illinois in 2018.[8][9]

Jon Stewart mixup[edit]

In 2006 Stewart was mistakenly hired to appear and host a charity gala at a charter school in Ogden, Utah. When a local intrepid reporter uncovered that the school might have booked the wrong Jon Stewart (rather than the comedian of the same name), the news story broke nationwide. Because of a slow news cycle, the story became the national news for three days with every major media outlet covering the mix up. Besides the story running in every major newspaper and radio station, Stewart appeared on CBS, CBS This Morning, Fox News and Inside Edition and was the splash page for an entire afternoon on AOL.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Stewart is married to well known, North Shore wedding/event coordinator, Joann Janelli-Stewart. The couple has three children.

Stewart has produced two different reality show pilots, one involving his families auto dealership and one about rescuing independent wrestling organizations, but both have been put into "Turn Around" by his affiliated Hollywood production companies.[11]


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 "King Kong Bundy profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
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  8. Janssen, Kim (June 21, 2017). "Former pro-wrestler with ties to Kellyanne Conway seeks Illinois governor nod". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  10. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named UPI
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named TVWritersVault

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