Nicholas Tom Gulas (born December 3, 1923 in Birmingham died January 21, 1991 in Nashville, Tennessee) operated what was once the largest wrestling promotion in the South. Of Greek descent, he was born into an entrepreneurial family. Family members owned Gulas Supper Club, a well-known Birmingham restaurant. A brother owned hot dog stands in Birmingham well into the 1980s.
Gulas was the son of Tom and Evelyn Skevis Gulas. He began working for Birmingham wrestling promoter Chris Jordan in the 1930s, running errands and doing chores for management and the wrestlers. He also worked with Jordan's successor, Joe Gunther.
He moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1947 and married the former Katherine Bushulen. With the encouragement of sportswriter Raymond Johnson and a sponsorship deal with 7-Up, he began promoting wrestling cards at the Hippodrome skating rink on Tuesday nights, while also booking big name dance bands like Benny Goodman, Xavier Cugat, Harry James and Sonny Dunham on weekends.
Soon Gulas partnered with veteran wrestler and promoter Roy Welch. In January 1953 they purchased half-interest in Joe Gunther's business and Gulas began commuting back to Birmingham to manage Monday night cards at Municipal Auditorium. He occasionally appeared at ring side, or even in the ring, during bouts.
Gulas was the first promoter to make professional wrestling a live television event, organizing "Live Studio Wrestling" on Saturday nights, first on Channel 13 and later WBMG-42. Wrestlers like the Jackie and Don Fargo, Tex Riley, Len Rossi, Bearcat Brown and Tojo Yamamoto became local celebrities. Sterling Brewer, the announcer at Boutwell and Live Studio Wrestling, was also locally famous.
Though Welch was the senior partner, Gulas, "The Matchmaker", served as the public face of the business while Welch still appeared as a performer. Later Gulas/Welch Enterprises, Inc became a charter member of the National Wrestling Alliance, a federation of wrestling promoters that exchanged talent and supported a unified Heavyweight Wrestling Champion. At one point Gulas was promoting wrestling events in 48 southern cities.
The wrestling business began to pass by Nick Gulas in the mid to late 1970s. WTBS out of Atlanta began airing wrestling to a national audience and fans began to fall away from their local promotions.
By the summer of 1980, Gulas had retired from full-time work, but still put on a few events. His wife, Katherine, died in 1986. Gulas died in January 1991 at Bordeaux Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He was survived by his son, George and five siblings. He is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery there.
- "Wrestling promoter Gulas dies." (January 22, 1991) Nashville Tennessean
- "Multi-use Hippodrome Was No Rinky-dink Arena" (November 8, 2006) Nashville Tennessean