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Las Vegas/Calumet City, IL - Francis Edward Zela, (known as "Frank" or "Butch") better known to 1960's wrestling fans as Boris Volkoff, died October 15, 2003 (of heart disease) during his retirement in Las Vegas. Born in the South Chicago suburb of Calumet City to Francis and Katherine Zela on May 9, 1927; Zela rose to fame on the professional wrestling circuit. Along with "brother" Nikolai, the Volkoff Brothers held the world tag team titles twice (1956 & 1958) out of Chicago/Milwaukee and held tag team titles in Indiana during 1965.

While serving in the Merchant Marines during WWII, Frank Zela was introduced to bodybuilding by Jack LaLanne in Venice Beach, CA. Until late 1970's, Zela owned and operated health clubs throughout the south suburbs including the All-American Health Club and the Acres Health Club in Calumet City. Until weight-lifting equipment became readily available, the weights in Zela's clubs were custom made by his brother-in-law, John Koscielniak. Believed to be one of the first public gyms, wrestling legends "Dick the Bruiser", "Bobo Brazil", "Sammy the Mongol", "Golden Moose Cholak" and Ray Schafer a.k.a. "Mr. Universe 1958" were often seen training at Zela's Club. The club was also known for its wild Hawaiian Luau parties. Zela was also a General Contractor ("Empire Construction"), restaurateur, among many other occupations.

Zela is survived by his children Frankalene and Johnny; nephews Dennis (Linda) and James Koscielniak and great nieces Rebecca, Alison (Nate Lundy) and Kristen Koscielniak. He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Marge and Milly and niece Sandie. Frank was known by many for his boisterous personality and his wrestling stories (that we all heard over and over again and never became tired of.) Frank made friends everywhere he went, he had an amazing life and he will be missed terribly.

Frank Zela's memorial will be held on Saturday, October 25th, (starting at 4:00 pm) at the family home of James Koscielniak in Calumet City, IL. For further details, please phone Jimmy at 708-862-3042. In lieu of flowers, please send any donations to the following Hospice Home (a nationwide organization): Odyssey Health Care, 4011 McLeod, Las Vegas, NV 89121. (702)693-4904.

** From The Times (Northwest Indiana), 10/22/03 **