Chris Chesselet 12/2012
CAC member and United States Military Veteran Chris Cheeselet passed away recently. At the time of his death Chris resided in Eugene Oregon. Chris was a regular attendee at the annual CAC reunions in Las Vegas and enjoyed talking about the glory day of pro-wrestling. His favorite wrestler of all time was Ed Morretti.
COUNTRY CUZ 12/31/12
Charles Shelby Kidd, who wrestled on independent Georgia cards as Country Cuz, passed away on December 31, 2012 in a Chattanooga area hospital. He was 53.
THE AMAZING ZUMA 12/29/12
Manuel Chaij, an unlikely headliner as The Amazing Zuma who set the Madison Square Garden wrestling business on its cauliflower ear in two matches with Antonino Argentina Rocca more than 50 years ago, passed away on December 29, 2012.
Manuel was born December 15, 1927 in Cordoba, Argentina, where from an early age he displayed his affinity for sports and became a gymnast representing his country Argentina in the 1948 Olympics.
In 1951 Manuel came to the U.S. to pursue and succeed with a Professional Wrestling career, to be known professionally as The Great Zuma and the Amazing Zuma. His career ensued till 1975, which in that time he represented the United States traveling the world with his profession winning numerous Titles and World Championships in his category.
Manuel was married to Mariam in 1961 and had three sons. He returned to his native Argentina in 1975 with his family where he retired from sports and pursued several entrepreneurial endeavors till 1984, where he was joined with his sons in California. He continued with different commercial ventures always accompanied by his wife and sons.
Manuel was predeceased by seven brothers and sisters. He is survived by his wife Mariam, his three sons, Elias, Jorge and Manuel, and nine grandchildren. He is also survived by his only two living siblings, Side and Jose. He was also loved and remembered by all his Cousins, Nephews, Nieces, their children and grandchildren.
Manuel died in Rancho Cucamonga on December 29, 2012 at the age of 85, always a loving Husband, Loving Father, Loving Grandfather and Loving Friend.
LUIGI MACERA 12/29/12
Luigi Macera, a Montreal native and World War II veteran who wrestled for 30 years, passed away in his sleep in Bradenton, Florida on December 29, 2012 at the grand age of 88. Luigi lived a life that most of us could only dream about, read his obituary.
BILL DROMO 12/28/12
Big Bill Dromo, a Canadian who spent virtually his entire career in the U.S., passed away on December 29, 2012 in Carrollton, Georgia. He began as a boxer, but switched to wrestling in his late teens and didn’t leave the grappling mats until more than 25 years later.
EMILIO CHARLES, JR. 12/28/12
Emilio Charles, Jr., one of the most talented wrestlers in the Mexican pantheon of ring stars, passed away at age 56 on December 28, 2012. He had a life-and-death battle in October 2010 when he was bitten by a deadly recluse spider, but survived to fall victim to kidney failure.
AL MANDELL 12/26/12
In its 48 years of existence, the Cauliflower Alley Club has never had a bigger booster than Al Mandell….well, except maybe our founder, Iron Mike Mazurki.
Albert Harry Mandell passed away in the hospital of natural causes in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 26, 2012 at the age of 92.
Al holds the record for getting the most CAC guys to join the club….he has got close to 100 members over the years, reflected Karl Lauer, the long-time CAC executive vice-president.He, up until a few years ago, would attend every indy show in North Carolina and always had a pocketful of membership forms and would pass them out.
He also served on the Board of Directors for over 25 years, and attended every reunion except for the past two when declining health took its toll on him. Ever the optimist, just this past summer he expressed to a board member the hope that he’d be in Las Vegas for the 2013 edition.
Al was born in Barberton, Ohio on May 12, 1920. Taken with wrestling in his teen years, he worked in the Akron wrestling office after school, and though barely 165 pounds had a handful of pro matches as he neared 20. Uncle Sam came calling in 1939, and Al served 29 years in the U.S. Air Force through World War II, The Korean Conflict and the Vietnam War. He retired from the military as a Senior Master Sergeant. Stationed in Britain during the war, he chaired the bases entertainment committee and, no surprise, arranged wrestling cards to help relieve the stresses of war for the troops.
On the civilian side, Al worked for the Mecklenberg County Sheriffs Department for some 25 years, retiring as the head of the county jail facility. At his death was still an active commissioner with the North Carolina Boxing Commission. He also spent many years as chairman of the Charlotte Athletic Commission, served on the state athletic commission, and was a board member of the World Boxing Council.
Wrestling didnt fall by the wayside during those years, though. He did some refereeing, timekeeping and promoting, and was a major figure in the contentious IWA effort at a national ring promotion that had been started by Eddie Einhorn and wound up in the hands of Johnny Powers and Pedro Martinez, who headquartered it in Charlotte. As well, Al often befriended wrestlers in the southern area, lending them a hand in everything from out-of-the-ring employment to house hunting. And, he never slowed his efforts at promoting and supporting CAC, a pure labour of love on behalf of the business he treasured for over 70 years of his life.
As a highly-decorated veteran, Al will be laid to rest with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. He hardly ever spoke of his military career, Karl Lauer recalls, even over the many years that theyve been close friends. Funeral services will be held in Charlotte on January 3, 2013 at Temple Israel.
The Cauliflower Alley Club extends its condolences to his loving wife Jill, whom he met while stationed in Britain and married in 1956, sons Benjamin and Daniel, and the entire family and legion of friends of Al Mandell.
PEPE CISNEROS 12/26/12
Pepe Cisneros, who worked under a half-dozen identities in his native Mexico, passed away of cancer on December 26, 2012. He was 66.
Born Marcos Manuel Vazquez Lopez on April 12, 1946 in Mexico City, he had his first matches in 1966. He was variously El Brujo, El Buitre, El Condor Blanco, Conscripto and El Zorro, as well as Pepe Cisneros. He was the father of Apolo #1 and Tony Cisneros, and the uncle and grand-uncle of several other Mexican wrestlers.
DICK AMNOTTE 12/24/12
Dick Amnotte, a familiar face on southeast U.S. cards from the late 1950s onward, passed away on December 24, 2012 at the age of 75.
Born in Biddeford, Maine on September 19, 1937, he was the son of wrestler Paul Amnotte. He worked until the mid-1970s, primarily on the undercard in Texas, Georgia and Florida.
GOLDEN BOY DAVID HASTINGS 12/22/12
David Brian Hastings, who wrestled in the Ohio area as The Golden Boy, passed away in Dover, Ohio at the age of 50, on December 22, 2012.
The Cauliflower Alley Club extends its condolences to his three children, his large extended family and his friends.
RIP HAWK 12/21/12
Rip The Profile Hawk, an all-time great in the mid-Atlantic area and a veteran of over 30 years in the ring, passed away in Texas on December 21, 2012, at the age of 82.
GORDON NELSON 12/17/12
Gordon Nelson, one of the most respected shooters of the past half-century, passed away of heart failure and pneumonia on December 17, 2012. He wrestled extensively in the United Kingdom in his younger years, and was a long-time star in the Amarillo territory. A full obituary will appear shortly in this space.
RICHARD TROGDON 12/16/12
Richard Trogdon, one of the little people who carved out a part-time career as a midget wrestler, passed away at the age of 39 on December 16, 2012.
Trogdon never did hit the big-time territories in their final days, but he was trained for the ring and worked on the independent level in the northeast U.S. for some time. His major appearances were for the then-WWF in the 1994 Survivor Series in San Antonio. He was part of Doink the Clowns team as Pink, along with Dink and Wink that faced Jerry Lawler and his sidekicks Sleazy, Queasy and Cheesy.
He lived with chronic and major pain for the last number of years, and had to undergo three spinal surgeries that did little to alleviate his condition.
EL FAISAN 12/15/12
El Faisan, a masked luchador active in Mexico in the 1970s and 80s and a trainer following his retirement from the ring, passed away of cancer on December 15, 2012, at age 52.
KING JAMES 12/14/12
James Carroll Avret, Jr., who wrestled as King James, passed away in Georgia on December 14, 2012, at the age of 57.
James wrestled for the Christian Wrestling Association out of Augusta, Georgia. He is survived by a brother and sister, and extended family.
JASON SPEED 12/14/12
Jason Speed, co-owner of independent promotion Pro Wrestling Resurrection, passed away on December 14, 2012 at the age of 29.
He initially operated the TNT promotion of Franklin, North Carolina, then moved to PWR in Clayton, Georgia. Speed recently relocated that promotion to Gainesville, Georgia.
GEORGE THE ANIMAL, JR. 12/08/12
Steve Wallace, an independent Illinois wrestler of the 1990s, passed away on December 8, 2012 at the age of 46.
He was one-half of the tag team The Animals, and also worked under the name George the Animal, Jr. However, he was no relation to Jim Myers, the one and only George The Animal Steele of WWF fame.
IAN ST. JOHN 12/08/12
Ian St. John, a lightweight wrestler from Lancashire, England, passed away on December 8, 2012 at the age of 75.
St. John was well-known throughout the British Isles over many years, and applauded everywhere for his lightning-fast classics with one of the U.K.s all-time greats , Johnny Saint. Its interesting to note that Saint still wrestles pro bouts, at the age of 70.
JERRY LEE RALPH 12/07/12
Jerry Lee Ralph, a man of many masks, passed away in the Nashville, Tennessee area on December 7, 2012 at the age of 53.
He wrestled largely on Tennessee and area independents, almost always under the hood. Among his identities were The Executioner, Intern, Masked Assassin #1, SuperStar and Dungeon Master. Although lacking the height and bulk of the original, he even appeared as King Kong Bundy on a few occasions.
MIKE THE HIPPIE BOYETTE 12/06/12
Mike Boyette, who began his athletic career as an Olympic-calibre judoka and became the well-remembered California Hippie in wrestling rings across the southern U.S., passed away in Alabama on December 6, 2012 at age 69.
EL HIJO DEL ANDY BARROW 12/04/12
Francisco Javier Gutierrez Martinez, who wrestled under a mask in Mexico as El Hijo del Andy Barrow, passed away on December 4, 2012.
It is reported that he suffered a hernia during a match in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico on December 2, which led to an intestinal rupture, followed by a heart attack. He was rushed to hospital, but passed away two days later.
FREEBIRD BUDDY ROBERTS 11/28/12
Buddy Roberts began life as Dale Hey, a young boy in Vancouver, British Columbia fascinated with the wild action of pro wrestling. And on November 28, 2012 that life drew to a close for the man who became known far and wide as Buddy Roberts, the smallest but definitely the scrappiest member of The Fabulous Freebirds.
Born in Vancouver 65 years ago, young Dale translated his fascination into action, training under the guidance of Red McNulty who would not long after become The Russian Bear Ivan Koloff. He debuted in 1965, paying his dues over the next five years with stints in the AWA as Buddy Smith, Stampede Wrestling as Dale Hayes and in other territories, and developing a tearaway style and a rock-solid ring ability.
The year 1970 was pivotal for Dale: he became Buddy Roberts, and allied with veteran Jerry Brown to form the original Hollywood Blondes under the management of old Minneapolis friend John Red Sutton, renamed Sir Oliver Humperdink. The trio tore it up in the Tri-State area, then spent the next seven years as major players in Montreal, the Canadian maritimes, California, Florida, Memphis, and the Mid-Atlantic areas. The team had run its course by 1977, and Roberts went solo, with a short run in Southwest Championship Wrestling as Dale Valentine, brother to the fabled Johnny, among other stops. Tag team opportunity arose again in 1979, when flamboyant Michael Hayes and bulldozing Terry Bam Bam Gordy hooked up with Buddy to become the three-man gang The Fabulous Freebirds. The group caught fire fast, drawing incredible heat wherever they appeared: Texas, Georgia, Florida, California, the UWF, AWA, WCW and WWF. Astute observers note that Buddy Roberts provided the real ring savvy for the trio well into the 80s, and its arguable that they wouldnt have achieved the success they did without his veteran presence.
Roberts took on managerial duties in WCCW in 1988 when the promotion brought in the Samoan Swat Team, Samu and Fatu, the son and nephew respectively of Afa Anoa.
Buddy closed off his career by 1990, and took up residence in Chicago with his family.In later years he battled throat cancer as tenaciously as he’d wrestled, and won that match as well. He was honored by CAC in 2003 with the Mens Wrestling Award.
Perhaps Buddys final personal appearance was at the August 2010 NWA Legends Fanfest in Charlotte, together with Jerry Brown and Sir Oliver, his friends of 40 years, not long before Humps death.
SEAN STOPP 11/27/12
Sean Stopp of Enid , Oklahoma, who wrestled for independent promotions for over 20 years, passed away on November 27, 2012 at the age of 43.
He wrestled under various identities Cy-5, his most popular character, Mr. Ooh-La-La, and The Pentium for Sooner Pro Wrestling, Elote and UWE. He is survived by his wife and four children, his parents, and a sister.
TONY JARONA 11/26/12
Tony Jarona, who wrestled primarily in the mid-west, passed away in Madison, Wisconsin on November 26, 2012, at the age of 87. Born in Madison on October 20, 1925, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the south Pacific during World War II. Nicknamed The Italian Strongman, he showed his wrestling wares in Wisconsin and surrounding states in the 1950s. He is survived by his wife of 64 years and four children and their families, including a great-great-granddaughter.
DON ARNOLD 11/22/12
Don Arnold, who passed away in Hawaii on November 22, 2012, packed a lot of living into his 90 years on this earth. Pro wrestling was only one of his many successful pursuits, and set the stage for later accomplishments as an author, teacher, coach, counselor, hypnotherapist, and staunch backer of nudism as a lifestyle.
Born September 29, 1922 in San Diego, Arnold graduated from San Diego State University and took his years of amateur experience — he was a four-year letter man in wrestling, three-year state champion, and NCAA competitor — into the pro ring in 1950. Basing himself on Santa Monicas Muscle Beach, he successfully toured the U.S., Australia and New Zealand for the next 20 years, pausing along the way to gain a master degree from the University of Arizona in 1959. He later came back to the ring under a mask as the infamous Dr. Death in California, all the while maintaining the high school teaching position he held for a number of years.
He furthered his education with a Ph.D. in human behaviour from LaJolla University in 1984, wrote books on stress management techniques and nudism, and set up a practice of hypnotherapy. Arnold was married four times, and had a son and daughter living in Hawaii.
DWAIN McCULLOUGH 11/17/12
Dwain McCullough, one-half of the huge and hooded Colossal Kongs tag team of the early 1990’s, passed away in LaGrange, Texas on November 17, 2012 at age 54.
Born on January 5, 1958 in Winnsboro, Texas, he was trained in 1990 by Killer Tim Brooks and Gentleman Chris Adams. His early career was under several identities: The Viking, the oddly-named Dewey, and the aptly-named Gorilla. In 1991, McCullough became the the first Awesome Kong not to be confused with Kia Stevens, the widely-known Awesome Kong of TNA fame along with tag team partner Scott Krusher Kong Thompson. The pair resembled massive bulldozers at their combined weight of 800 pounds plus.
They started their run under the masks in GWF, moved on to USWA, and in 1993 invaded WCW. Along the way, McCullough flattened Jerry The King Lawler for the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship in July 1991, though his title run lasted only two weeks.
In WCW, the monstrous pair were managed by legendary Harley Race and appeared on a number of major events, including Clash of the Champions 24, BattleBowl 1993 and Starrcade. The run was short-lived, however, and they disappeared from the ring scene at the end of 1993.
McCullough returned to his home state, and apparently closed off his wrestling career at that point. Little is known of him after that time, other than he served prison time in Texas in the mid-2000’s.
BIG BAD BOB 11/16/12
Joseph Bob Elliott passed away in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on November 16, 2012.
Elliott worked as Big Bad Bob in independent promotions in Tennessee in the 1970’s. He is survived by his wife Linda and a large family.
ROCKIN RICK 11/13/12
Ricky T. Creason, who wrestled as Rockin Rick, passed away on November 13, 2012 at the age of 50. He was active on the independent wrestling scene in the south in the 1980s. Following retirement from the ring, he was a painter and volunteer fireman in Hodge, Louisiana.
SIEGFRIED STANKE 11/12/12
William J. Lehman, who wrestled in the 1970s and early 80s as Siegfried Stanke, passed away on November 12, 2012 in Seguin, Texas at age 74. He played college and pro football, wrestled for 13 years, and coached football and tennis in a 50-year association with sports.
DOUG HANSEN 11/10/12
Doug Hansen, one of the unheralded behind-the-scenes operatives in the wrestling business, passed away on November 10, 2012.
His first foray into wrestling was as a writer for several of the magazines, mainly covering the Roy Shire promotion out of San Francisco in the 1960’s. From there, he promoted briefly in Arizona then returned to the coast to join Red Bastiens fledgling promotion following the close of the Shire operation. He set up television for Red, became his on-air and ring announcer, and provided the ring for area promoters. When Bastien relocated to southern California, Hansen moved to the new Ripper Leone promotion, carrying out similar duties as well as writing the programs, refereeing, or whatever had to be done.
As the 70’s wore on and Leone closed his operation, Doug left the business behind, settling in a small community near the Mexican border. He is survived by brother Geoffrey Hansen, who is well-known to reunion regulars, and his family.
BRONCO BOB 11/08/12
Bronco Bob, a familiar name on independent events in the gulf coast states, passed away suddenly on November 8, 2012 in his home city of Houma, Louisiana. The 40-year old succumbed to a heart attack.
Chad Michael Bonvillian came by his ring name in a novel way. As a young man washing cars at a Ford dealership, he was the only employee who could work the swirls out of the paint when he buffed the Broncos on the lot. His pals at the dealership promptly dubbed him Bronco Bob, and he kept the nickname when he hit the wrestling trail some 17 years ago.
He combined his wrestling exploits with twin careers as a bail bondsman and a bounty hunter, and his immense size 6 foot 7, and nearly 400 pounds undoubtedly kept his bail clients and criminal quarry more than a little cowed. Bonvillian reckoned he had some 1,000 matches in all, and he showed well enough to be the first inductee into the Louisiana Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in October 2010.
Bronco Bob was a hero away from the ring as well as in it in 2000, when he used his brute strength to rip open the jammed door of a burning pick-up truck and save the life of the driver.
BRAD ARMSTRONG 11/01/12
Brad Armstrong, 51, the son of grand veteran Bullet Bob Armstrong and brother to wrestlers Scott, Steve and Brian Armstrong, passed away unexpectedly on November 1, 2012 at his home in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Born Robert Bradley James in Marietta, Georgia on June 15, 1961, the second son of Joseph and Gail James got into the family business just three weeks after graduating high school. Trained by his father, who enjoyed a solid ring reputation across the south as Bob Armstrong, Brad made his first mark in Southeast Championship Wrestling in July 1980. He moved to Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1984, and there developed a lengthy tag team alliance as The Lightning Express, and a close friendship with another rising star, Tim Horner.
Brad joined Jim Crockett Promotions in 1986, then reunited with Horner for a stint in UWF. A brief run in WWF came next, followed by a several-year stretch in WCW where he also worked on occasion under a mask. He toured Japan and worked for nearly a year in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, then returned to WCW for the latter half of the 1990’s. Brad closed off his active career on the independent scene, and with WWE as a trainer and producer.
Beneath a mask, he may have operated under more identities than any other wrestler: Fantasia, Badstreet, Arachnaman, Freedom Fighter, Candyman, Buzzkill, Mr. R, B.A. and one-half of Dos Hombres were all ring names at one time or another.
According to his brothers, he was the cream of the crop in his generation. Brad was the best in our family, all the brothers will tell you that, summed up eldest brother Scott, currently a referee and producer for WWE.
A major factor in closing off his wrestling career was the birth of his daughter Jillian in 2001; devoted to her, Brad much preferred being home and taking an active role in her life, especially when she began school, rather than taking on lengthy ring commitments. He also worked at a health food store in Marietta.
He is survived by his wife Lori, daughter Jillian, brothers Scott, Steve and Brian, and parents Joseph and Gail James.
CHIEF THUNDERCLOUD 10/31/12
Louis Langley, who was one of several wrestlers to use the ring name Chief Thundercloud over the years, passed away on October 31, 2012 at the age of 69.
He wrestled most often on the undercard for promoter Paul Boesch in Houston, Texas, and occasionally in the surrounding states.
DAVID DEATON 10/24/12
The body of David Deaton, 56, was found in the Missouri River near Winnebago, Nebraska on October 24, 2012. His death appears to have been by accidental drowning.
Born David Lawrence Deaton in 1957, he began his wrestling career in 1977 alongside the man who would shortly borrow his name and become his brother in the ring, Joseph Lofton Jones soon to be known as Joel Deaton. Early in his career David used the surnames Bruno and Anderson, and his real name. But it wasn’t long before the two friends formed one of wrestling’s longest-lived tag teams, as the Deaton Brothers, in Leroy McGuirks Tri-State Wrestling promotion in Oklahoma.
Moving on from there, they began appearing under the hood as Thunderfoot #1 (Joel)and #2 (David) across the south-eastern states. Joel had had a couple of other partners under this guise, but none more effective than David over the long run. The pair remained together until David retired from the ring.
MIKE GRAHAM 10/18/12
The tragedy of the Graham family came full circle when Mike Graham, son of legendary wrestler and Championship Wrestling from Florida promoter Eddie Graham, passed away in Daytona Beach, Florida on October 18, 2012 at the age of 61. His death was self-inflicted.
Born Edward Michael Gossett in Tampa on September 20, 1951, he was a star amateur wrestler in high school. He began his professional career in 1972 after training by his father, Hiro Matsuda, and Larry The Great Malenko Simon, taking the name Mike Graham. He spent the majority of his career wrestling in Florida, often getting involved in tag team wars in partnership with his father Eddie, Kevin Sullivan, Barry Windham, Steve Keirn and several others. He was co-holder of the Florida tag team championship on 20 different occasions, along with a number of other titles.
In 1981, Mike moved his base of operations to the AWA’s Minneapolis headquarters. He spent almost two years there, and held the AWA world light-heavyweight crown for much of that time. Returning to Florida in 1983, he resumed his winning ways and held the North American, U.S., Georgia and global tag titles several times.
Following his fathers death by his own hand in January 1985, Mike took over management of CWF but like many others the promotion was failing due to the WWF onslaught. It finally closed in 1991. Mike took a road agent position with WCW, and doubled as a part-time trainer in their Power Plant facility for several years. He surfaced again in the mid-2000s with WWE, assisting with production of their Dusty Rhodes DVD and appearing a number of times on WWE 24/7. His final appearance with the company was at the 2008 Hall of Fame ceremony, where he accepted the induction of his father.
His most recent public presence was a Saturday evening talk radio show, Talking Wrestling with Mike Graham, on a Tampa station.
Mike had reportedly been despondent since the suicide of his only son Steve, 37, in Daytona Beach in December 2010. The three deaths, grandfather, father and son, were by gunshot.
BRAIN DAMAGE 10/18/12
Marvin Lambert, who specialized in hardcore matches under the name of Brain Damage, passed away on October 18, 2012 at age 34. His death was a suicide.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, the 6 4, 270 pound Lambert trained under Toby Klein. He had his first ventures for a small promotion in Detroit, then in 2005 began a lengthy run of ultra-violent matches in IWA Mid-South. He moved on to Combat Zone Wrestling in 2007, and continued there until quietly retiring from the hardcore world in late 2011.
ALEX KARRAS 10/10/12
Alex Karras, the hard-charging Detroit Lions lineman whose wrestling ventures climaxed with a resounding collision with Dick The Bruiser Afflis in 1963, passed away in California on October 10, 2012 at age 77.
Hangman Bobby Jaggers 09/30/12
Bobby Jaggers, a familiar figure for some 20 years on the territorial scene, passed away unexpectedly on September 30, 2012 at the age of 64. His death appears to have been due to a rampaging bacterial blood infection.
Born Robert F. Jeaudoin on January 8, 1948 in Vancouver, Washington, he joined the U.S. Army in December 1966. He saw major action as a member of the 1st Cavalry in the Vietnam War, at Hue, Khe Sahn, Au Shau valley and in the Tet Offensive. On discharge from the service, casting around for a means to earn a living, he chanced to meet Oregon promoter Sandy Barr in 1972. That meeting revived his youthful interest in pro wrestling, and Barr hooked him up with Tito Montez and Kurt Von Steiger in Arizona to commence his training.
Initially adopting the ring name Bobby Mayne in tribute to his all-time hero Lonnie Moondog Mayne, he hit several territories with a tearaway style and a devil-may-care attitude. Then he landed in Florida, where it all came together: he became Bobby Jaggers, a mop-headed blond and bulldozing wildman with a big mouth, and a never-ending stream of promos that issued forth from it. Along with that he became a bumping machine, the perfect foil for the babyface side, and acquired the sobriquet Hangman. Tag team work became his forte, with partners Jerry Brown, Buck Robley, Randy Tyler, Moondog Moretti, pre-Hulk Hogan youngster Sterling Golden, Rip Oliver, and most notably Dirty Dutch Mantell as the lawless Kansas Jayhawks.
Though he never made inroads into the northeast, Jaggers was all over the rest of America, plus made innumerable trips to Puerto Rico, had a brief run in Vancouver, and racked up 18 forays to Japan. He had begun to consider his exit from wrestling after a Carolinas run with Mantell, and as fate would have it, was in the dressing room that night in 1988 when Bruiser Brody was murdered in Puerto Rico. That chilling experience clinched his decision to leave it all behind as soon as possible. By 1991, Bobby Jaggers would be history, and Bobby Jeaudoin would be back with his family in his longtime home in Dunlap, Kansas.
He resumed his education at Kansas State University and at a community college, then worked for the state for a number of years. In 2007 he moved the Department of Homeland Security, as a road and bridge specialist with the federal agency.
Eric Ronald “Stan Pulaski” Pomeroy 09/29/12
2000 CAC Honoree Stan Pulaski who began a pro-wrestling career for the AWA in Toronto, Canada at the age of 18 and wrestled around the world from 1951 until 1974, In 1974, he was in a car accident which forced him to retire from professional wrestling, passed away on September 29, 2012 at the age of 79.
MR. EXCLUSIVE DANNY B. 09/22/12
Daniel Bilski, a wrestler just beginning his ring career, passed away on September 22, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas of natural causes. He was 31 years old.
Born in Erie, Pennsylvania on January 28, 1981, he held a marketing degree from Clarion University and a physical therapy assistant degree from Mercyhurst University in his home state. While working as Director of Rehabilitation at Reliant Rehabilitation in San Antonio, he recently completed his training by River City Wrestling and launched his ring ventures under the identity of Mr. Exclusive Danny B.
DON FIELDS 09/18/12
Don Fields, the last surviving brother of southern wrestling folk heroes The Fields Brothers and a member of perhaps the largest wrestling family in history, passed away at the age of 80 on September 18, 2012.
The Welch-Fields-Fuller-Golden wrestling clan originated in Pawhuska, Oklahoma with the four Welch brothers. The brothers migrated to Tennessee in the 1930s and 40s, and rapidly developed their mat reputations there. Virgil Speedy Hatfield, a skilled referee and brother-in-law to the Welches, relocated there in 1946 with his wife Bonnie and three sons, Lee, Don and Bobby. With their father and four uncles all in the business, it was almost a foregone conclusion that theyd wrestle, and so they all did in the early 1950s.
Trained by old pro Charlie Carr, Donald Wayne Hatfield hit southern rings in 1953 under the pseudonym Don Lane, to avoid a link to his brothers . But it wasnt long before the family connection surfaced, and all three adopted the shortened surname Fields. They tag teamed often, and carried one or another of the regions tag titles frequently.
Don most frequently teamed up with Bobby, or Luke as he was sometimes billed. The pair held the areas world tag belts three times, and the southern tag belts eight times between 1959 and 1963. He also held the Alabama heavyweight title on one occasion.
Dons active career was tragically cut short by injuries sustained in a 1963 car accident , but he remained a force in wrestling, running the office with brother Lee and promoting in Mississippi. He also had a successful ranching operation near Loxley, Alabama. In recent years, Don was a director of the Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion held each year in Mobile, Alabama.
Brother Lee passed away on June 4, 2000, while Bobby left us on August 13, 2011.
ACE ALLCARD 09/15/12
Ronald Allcard, a familiar name to British and German wrestling fans some 30 and more years ago, passed away on September 15, 2012 in England.
Under the moniker of Ace Allcard, the Sheffield native began wrestling in 1968 for Morrell-Beresford Promotions, mainly in Scotland and northern England. In 1976, he moved his base of operations to Germany, working there for two years and then staying on as a referee. He was a regular attendee at the Leeds Wrestlers Reunion in Leeds, England, a sister organization to CAC.
BILL MILLS 09/13/12
William Cooper Bill Mills, a referee and sometime wrestler with the National Wrestling Superstars group in New Jersey, fell victim to cancer on September 13, 2012. He was 49.
MIKE RYCKOFF 09/05/12
Mike Ryckoff, one of the unsung journeyman workers whose job was to make others look good, passed away on September 5, 2012 in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was 81.
He was born Myron Ryckoff on November 21, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York, and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1947 to 1949. Amateur boxing and wrestling dominated his early years, and the latter sport led to a friendship with a young man named Jimmy Wehba when Ryckoff moved to Texas. The pair drove to Amarillo in 1957, intent on getting into professional wrestling. They both made the grade: Mike Ryckoff in undercard matches, and his friend Jimmy Wehba as the notorious General Skandor Akbar.
Mike worked under his own name, and sometimes under a mask as yet another Great Bolo, for some 15 years. His active ring career over, he moved on to refereeing. He also coached boxing, baseball and soccer, and became head official for U.S.A. Boxing. He is survived by his wife Jearldine, one daughter and three sons.
SUPERSTAR RICHARD BYRNE 09/04/12
Richard Byrne, some years back a well-known New England independent wrestler and for most of his life a major martial arts figure, passed away on September 4, 2012 at the age of 62.
Born and raised in Malden, MA, he began his athletic career in the art of Tang Soo Do karate (an empty-handed method of self-defence) in 1969, while stationed in Korea with the U.S. Air Force. He was schooled for the wrestling ring by Walter Kowalski, and billed as Superstar Richard Byrne, largely confined his career to New England. His major wrestling venture abroad was to New Japan, where he ultimately faced Tatsumi Dragon Fujinami in a major match after being pushed as a martial arts outsider.
The claim to martial arts expertise was legitimate, and grew continually over the years. Ultimately, Richard became a Grandmaster, 9th Dan black belt in Tang Soo Do, and also held black belts in Shotokan and Tae Kwan Do. He owned Byrns Tang Soo Do Karate Studios, and in 1973 was the founder of the American Tang Soo Do Association. He frequently competed in high-level shootfighting competitions in Japan and elsewhere, his martial arts reputation carried him into the world of movies and TV, and he authored a book and many articles over the years.
PORTER TINDALE 09/04/12
Ira Tindale, a wrestler and referee, passed away on September 4, 2012 at the age of 79.
He wrestled as Porter Tindale, yet another masked Mr. X, and Hans Nuremberg for Championship Wrestling from Florida, and occasionally did TV matches in Georgia. A veteran of the Florida National Guard and a railroad engineer by profession, he wrestled only part-time. He worked until his retirement with CSX Transportation in the Tampa area.
TOM LOOMIS 09/03/12
Tom Loomis of Galchutt, ND passed away unexpectedly at the age of 44 on September 3, 2012. He promoted events in the North Dakota area under the banner of Top Rope Wrestling Productions and managed under the name Tommy Knoxville. He is survived by a large family that misses him dearly.
BUFFALO BROWN 08/27/12
Granvel Paul Brown passed away on August 27, 2012 in Texas, at the age of 62.He had a brief wrestling career as Buffalo Brown in the 1970’s before moving to his first love, music. Brown was the band leader for country recording star Johnny Duncan for some years, and worked his musical magic on a number of Duncans 17 albums. He later had his own touring band, Macon County.
BUDDY BISON 08/14/12
Buddy Bison, who wrestled in the U.S and Canada under that name and others, suffered a fatal heart attack on August 14, 2012, at the age of 71.
Born Roger D. Kowarko in Buffalo, New York on October 1, 1940, his early athletic years were focussed on judo and jiu jitsu. At 22 years old, he began his ring training with Steve Stanlee, then continued with Bibber McCoy. He made his ring debut in Atlanta, Georgia in early 1962 as one-half of the Bison Brothers tag team. Moving on to Calgary, Alberta in early 1963, he spent several months under the practiced eye of Stu Hart whom he described as master the best pound for pound shooter he ever met.
Returning stateside, Buddy hit several different territories as Bison or Hurricane Chandler, then allied with Charlie Bruce as the masked Executioners. His career was cut short by a recurring neck injury. He spent some time in law enforcement and then bounty hunting, before becoming an outfitter and guide in Idaho.
RED BASTIEN 08/11/12
It is what it was, to employ a slight edit of Red Bastiens favorite phrase, it is what it is. And what it was, was a wonderful life lived by a unique man.
Rolland Bastien Red to his legion of friends, and the uncounted masses who witnessed his ring exploits over the years passed away in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the afternoon of August 11, 2012, at the age of 81.
The genial redhead capped a remarkable and lengthy wrestling career, that spanned carnival AT shows, professional rings from Madison Square Garden on down the list, training of young wrestlers and actively promoting his sport in California, with a seven-year stint as President of the Cauliflower Alley Club. Through it all, he maintained an amazing zest for life, an infinite capacity to relate to people, an endless supply of good humor, and that unforgettable laugh.
Born in Bottineau, North Dakota on January 27, 1931, young Rolland developed an interest in wrestling by his mid-teens. Though a promising swimmer, he forsook the pool for the mat, and bypassed the amateur side of the sport for the rigorous challenge of wrestling in the carnival AT shows against all comers. He was trained well by several old hookers, the masters of submission wrestling, and in his latter teens went through several years on the grueling carny circuit. He was undefeated, depending on his deceptively-small size, rawhide toughness and natural competitiveness to carry him through.
Red, as he soon came to be known, had his first pro match in about 1950, by most accounts. His budding career was interrupted by a stint in the U.S.Navy, attached to a ship repair squad stationed near Naples, Italy. Resuming his mat ventures, he trained further with old pro Joe Pazandak in Minneapolis. He also worked on his aerial game particularly, becoming one of the highest-flying athletes of the day. Reds spectacular flying head scissors was one of a kind, and is said to have never been duplicated.
Tag team wrestling became his forte as the 1960’s dawned. He worked on top at Madison Square Garden with brother Lou (Klein) Bastien, defeating such teams as the Grahams and The Fabulous Kangaroos. Billy Red Lyons allied with him as The Flying Redheads, and Spanish strongman Hercules Cortez was his regular partner until he died in an auto accident in Minnesota on July 23, 1971 that Red miraculously survived.
Red became an exceptional wrestler early in his career. An average-sized man at 5′ 10″ and just over 200 pounds, he transcended his limitations to become one of the best of his era inside the ring, in the almost universal view of his contemporaries.
As Reds active career began to taper off, he worked closely with Big Bill Anderson in training promising new talent in California, including Sting (Steve Borden), Angel of Death (Dave Sheldon), Ultimate Warrior (Jim Hellwig), Steve di Salvo and others. He began promoting as well, in both northern and southern California, and often used smaller men with different styles, such as luchadores, on his cards.
CAC introduced the Red Bastien Award at his retirement from the presidency, to recognize those very special fans who have never worked in any major capacity in the pro wrestling industry or been under contract to a major wrestling promotion, but should have demonstrated by deed and word over time a commitment to the people and the welfare of the industry.
As well as being President of the Cauliflower Alley Club from 2001 to 2007, Red was installed in the WCW Hall of Fame in 1994, and the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame at the Wrestling Museum in Waterloo, Iowa in 2007.
Sadly, Red was stricken with Alzheimers Disease, and spent the last several years of his life in an excellent care facility in Minneapolis. He is survived by the devoted lady in his life for many years, Carol McCutchin, and her daughter Tracy, five children, and a sister.
The Cauliflower Alley Club extends its condolences to Carol and Tracy, and to Reds family and many friends.
Greg Oliver of Slam!Wrestling has a fine retrospective of Reds life at http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Wrestling/2010/05/02/13796526.html , along with an interesting photo gallery.
RITA CORTEZ 07/27/12
Rita Cortez died Friday at the age of 73. Cortez was a 2001 CAC Women’s honoree. During her career, Cortez battled all the big names in women’s wrestling, such as Judy Grable, Fabulous Moolah, Dotty Carter, Peggy Allen, Fran Gravette and Olga Martinez, switching from heel to babyface, often based on where she was working or against whom.
Cortez was married to Buddy Lee of the famous, Buddy Lee Attractions, Inc. which is today Nashville’s oldest and largest privately owned talent agency. Some of the biggest names in country music have been represented by Buddy Lee Attractions, including George Strait, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks. An original partner was Audrey Williams, widow of Hank Williams, Sr., with a teenage Hank Williams, Jr., as the company’s main client, and it was called Aud-Lee Attractions until 1968.
On March 21, 1964, Cortez was involved in the first women’s match in Michigan in 25 years, against Olga Martinez, in Detroit’s at Olympia Stadium. There had been an informal ban on women’s wrestling, not a law outlawing it, like in other states.
Cortez-Lee died on Friday, July 27 in Hermitage, Tennessee.
David “Goldie Rogers” Sherwin 07/20/12
David Sherwin, better known by his ring name Goldie Rogers, was a Canadian professional wrestler born in Cobourg, Ontario and died in Cobourg on July 20, 2012 from complications from a previous stroke. He was 61.
Dave Sherwin trained with Phil Watson in April 1972 and debuted later that summer. He started his career wrestling under various masked gimmicks in multiple small promotions in Ontario, before heading to West Virgina and becoming the Hollywood villain persona ‘Goldie Rogers’. Goldie would work in various territories including Dean Silverstone’s Superstar Championship Wrestling from Washington, Al Tomko’s All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver, Frank Tunney’s Maple Leaf Wrestling in Toronto and in a few promotions in Canada’s Maritimes. He would also wrestle in various televised enhancement matches for the World Wrestling Federation in the early to mid 80’s.
In the mid to late 1980’s, Goldie Rogers became a fixture of Stu Hart’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta and was known for his stalling ring antics, bushy beard, colourful sunglasses, flashy ring attire and ‘Listen up Jack!’ catch phrase with his raspy voice. The promotion closed in December 1989, and Rogers would return to wrestling in the Maritimes, retiring in 1992. After wrestling he started up “Goldie’s Taxi’ service in his hometown of Cobourg.
DARA SINGH 07/12/12
Dara Singh, Indias biggest pro wrestling star for two decades and later in life one of Indias best-known film and TV stars, passed away in Mumbai, India on July 12, 2012 at age 83. He had been admitted to hospital on July 7 after a near-fatal heart attack, and with no hope of survival, was returned home on the evening of July 11 so that he could pass on in the arms of his family.
He was born Dara Singh Randhawa on November 19, 1928 in a village in the state of Amritsar, India, a member of the Jatt sect of the Sikh ethno-religious group. He was initially schooled in wrestling in the Pehlwani style, conducted in sand pits, in the mid-1940’s. Tall, well-built and handsome even as a teenager, his first foray abroad was to Singapore in 1947, and his star rose quickly from there. He toured most of the Far East over the next five years, then returned home to become the Indian champion in 1954. He often wrestled in India in private matches for various maharajahs, the fabulously wealthy rulers of the countrys feudal states, in side-bet bouts where hundred of thousands of dollars were staked on the outcome. Singhs bouts were often attended by Indian prime ministers, from Jawaharlal Nehru onward.
Singh transitioned easily to the western brand of professional wrestling, which led to appearances throughout Europe, the far-flung British Commonwealth and North America. He faced the cream of the ring crop everywhere: Billy Robinson, George Gordienko, John DaSilva, King Kong Czaya, Rikidozan and the peerless Lou Thesz. Singh became the Indian version of world heavyweight champion after a victory over Thesz on May 29, 1968.. Lou, in fact, held him in especially high regard..
Dara Singh was accorded the highest wrestling honors in his homeland by being named Rustam-E-Punjab in 1966, and the even more illustrious Rustam-E-Hind (champion of India) in 1978.
Concurrent with his wrestling career, Singh was a natural for Indias thriving movie industry that came to be known as Bollywood. He had major roles in over 100 movies beginning in 1949. In the 1960’s and 1970’s he most often played the action hero, and starred in many TV shows. His most memorable role was as Hanuman in the epic production of the Hindu classic Ramaya His final acting appearance was in 2007. Singh also added directing and producing to his list of achievements, and in 1980 established the well-equipped Dara Studio in Punjab state.
He is survived by three sons and three daughters, and their families.
LADDIE HOLEK 07/03/12
Laddie Holek, the less well-known member of yet another of wrestling’s brother combinations, passed away on July 3, 2012 are the age of 82.
He was raised on a farm outside Chatham, Ontario, and was the first of the brothers to venture into the professional ring in the late 1940’s. He got his start in Detroit, and confined his career to Ontario and Michigan and surrounding states. In prime condition from his hard work on the farm, and a talented athlete to boot, he soon made his mark in the area.
Laddies younger brother Stan, 3 years his junior, recalled those days for SLAM! Wrestling several years ago. That was in the early days, when TV started,” Stan Holek recalled for SLAM! Wrestling several years ago. “I could see him on TV and I said, ‘Heck, I can get into that.’ I always enjoyed a scrap once in a while.”
Stan, of course, became better known as Stan Lisowski, the brother of Reggie before his Crusher days, and then Stan Neilson, brother of veteran Art Neilson. His career stretched for some 10 years before he changed paths to become a steer bulldogger in the rodeo.
Laddies career was some seven years shorter, and he too altered his path to become a successful businessman in the sheet metal industry. On retiring from that role, he became a real estate agent.
HANS SCHMIDT 05/26/12
Guy LaRose, known the length and breadth of North America in his heyday as The Teutonic Terror Hans Schmidt, passed away in Quebec on May 26, 2012.
He was 87, and had been in hospital for the past several weeks.
THEO EHRET 05/24/12
Theo Ehret was described as an unsung giant of sports photography in the Los Angeles press when he passed away there on May 24, 2012, at the venerable age of 91. But he was far from unsung in the wrestling world, where his crystal clear images of the many stars of southern California rings were reproduced the world over.
Born in Mannheim, Germany on July 7, 1920, he was drafted into the German Navy in World War II, and spent seven months in a prisoner of war camp in Italy. After working in the motor pool for the U.S.Army, he immigrated to America in the early 1950s Settling in Los Angeles, he worked in auto repair, and finally caught on as a photographer for a public relations firm. In 1963, he established his own studio on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, close to Dodger Stadium.
Theo got on well with an early client, Aileen Eaton, the boxing and wrestling promoter at the Grand Olympic Auditorium. It was a short step to becoming the Olympics resident photog for boxing and then wrestling, and from 1964 to the early 1980s his Rolleiflex camera recorded every athlete who passed through the fabled arena. The Olympic was in its heyday, and there were plenty. Theo’s sparkling work, published widely in Japan, was a key to familiarizing fans there with the larger-than-life personalities of the American ring and did much to pave the way for their incredible success in the Far East over many years.
Gorgeous George Jr. 05/12/12
Gorgeous George Jr. passed away from cancer on Saturday, he was 74. He worked with and against several wrestlers through the years. Such as, Bobby Shane, Gary Hart, Jack Brisco, Greg Valentine, Buddy Colt, Jerry Lawler, Jack Brisco, Ken Lucas, Frenchie Bernard, Porkchop Cash, George Gulas, Jerry Kozak, Luke Graham, Miss Brenda, Jerry, Mongolian Stomper. And had Notable Feuds with the likes of George Gulas, Tito Montez, Eddie Sullivan, Mr. Ito, Jerry Miller, Chati Yaluchi, Treach Phillips Sr., Pancho Pico, Jack Brisco, The Assassins, Gary Hart
Jr. was not really the son of the original Gorgeous George. In fact he was sued by widow of the original Gorgeous George to prevent him from using the name of Gorgeous George Jr. in California. As a result, he legally changed his name to George Richard Wagner. His real name before the name change was Richard Phelps.
After retiring from in ring action, he lived in Tennessee driving a truck for a living.
DEL SKINNER 05/10/12
Delmarnet Skinner, who wrestled during the 1970s as Del Skinner, passed away on May 10, 2012 at the age of 70.
An avid bodybuilder before he took to the ring, his relatively brief career was confined to the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
BUDDY DIAMOND 05/04/12
Charles Medford, who wrestled in the 1970s as Buddy Diamond and Private Buddy Diamond, passed away on May 4, 2012 at the age of 67 due to internal bleeding. He was a former police officer. Diamond wrestled mostly in the south, and following his active career, became a referee in the mid-Atlantic area.
Jay Strongbow 04/04/12
Chief Jay Strongbow, the celebrated wrestler from the 60s and 70s, passed away this April 4, 2012 at the age of 83. The news was first reported by WWE broadcast announcer Jim Ross. Strongbow, whose real name was Joe Scarpa, undertook wrestling in the late 40s and lasted until the early 80s. Strongbow then labored for Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation for a brief period in various positions. As Chief Jay Strongbow, the Italian Joe Scarpa hit his stride in the 70s as he choreographed the Native American character. He held several championships, including the WWF Tag Team Championship with Jules Strongbow. The beloved wrestler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994.
Strongbow was one of, if not the most popular Native American wrestling character. He inspired numerous other Native American characters throughout the years. In celebration of Chief Jay Strongbow, here is a list of the three most distinguished Native American wrestlers.
Strongbow also performed for the NWA and acquired the companies prestigious titles. The Chief also held several regional titles across the nation, during a time when the territorial wrestling system was active.
Joe Blanchard 03/22/12
Joseph Edgar Blanchard was born on December 7, 1928 in Haskell, Oklahoma. He was called to spend eternity with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ at 8:00AM on March 22, 2012. Joe is survived by Jackie, his loving and devoted wife of 59 years, Son, Tully; Grandchildren, Taylor, 20, Tanner, 18, Tessa, 16, and Tally, 14, Brother Arthur and wife Louise, Brother Harry and wife Mary, and Sister Nancy.
As the Sports Anchor at KSAT 12 in the late ’60’s, Joe was the first to broadcast The High School Football Highlights Show. Joe wrestled professionally for over 30 years and held numerous championship titles. While attending Kansas State university , Joe played collegiate football and was the Conference Champion for the wrestling team in 1950. Joe, also played professional football in the Canadian Football League with the Edmonton Eskimos. The team played for The Grey Cup Championship in 1952.
After the death of his son,Taylor, in 1978, Joe re-dedicated his life to Jesus Christ. In the mid-80’s he began a dedicated service to the Cornerstone Prayer Line and in the early 90’s, he personally e-mailed his Daily Devotional to readers nation wide. He continued with both of these until October 2011. Joe touched many lives in his walk with the Lord.
TOMMY WEATHERS 03/06/12
Veteran referee Tommy Weathers, a familiar face to older wrestling fans throughout much of the southeastern U.S., passed away at his home in Cleveland, Tennessee on March 6, 2012. He died of cancer at the age of 70.
William Thomas Weathers, Jr. was born on October 11, 1941. He became a referee at a young age, just 17, and spent some 40 years as the third man in the ring. Tommy refereed for the major promotions in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee in the course of his career, handling some of the most memorable matches in the areas long and rich ring history. On August 5, 1994 he was inducted into the National Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame, a most significant recognition of his contributions to the industry.
Tommy set aside his referees stripes for a time in 1981 to manage the red-hot tag team pairing of Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose, The Midnight Express. The change came after he turned on Bob Armstrong during a handcuff match, and resulted in long-running heat on Tommy, Condrey and Rose in subsequent battles with the Armstrong clan.
Away from the ring, he operated Tommys Recycling for 21 years, and was an avid fisherman and baseball fan.
Weathers is survived by his wife Shirley, daughter Cheryl, sons Randall and Jason, step-sons Anthony and Milford, and extended family.
Doug Furnas 03/02/12
Doug Furnas passed away in his sleep in Tucson, Arizona on March 2, 2012, at the age of 50. His death was attributed to atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. Doug had battled early-onset Parkinsons Disease for the past decade, and had other health concerns as well.
Born on December 11, 1961 and raised on a farm in Miami, Oklahoma, Doug and his brother Michael attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and played football there. At the same time, Doug squat, powerful physique and massive legs led him to power lifting, where he established records that have yet to be surpassed. Among them are the men’s collegiate national record and the Tennessee state record in both the squat and the deadlift, the latter an amazing 985 pound squat, just 15 pounds short of today’s world record.
Wrestling captured Furnas attention next, his first venture in the ring taking place in Knoxville in 1986. He earned his journeyman status around the south for several years, then set his sights on Japan in 1989. In a stroke of booking genius, Giant Baba paired him with Canadian speedster Phil Lafon, who worked in Japan under the name Dan Kroffat, borrowed from a retired Stampede Wrestling headliner. Doug developed rapidly in the rugged Japanese setting, combining the offense of a powerhouse wrestler with moves that spotlighted his impressive leaping ability, agility and flexibility. Together, Furnas and Lafon became one of the smoothest-working teams in the world.
The Can-Am Express, as they were dubbed, didnt just catch fire in All Japan rings they exploded, quickly ascending to the top rung of the tandem ladder. They held the AJPW All-Asia Tag Team Championship on five occasions, and in 1992, captured the coveted Wrestling Observer Match of the Year honors for their world-class battle with Kenta Kobashi and Tsuyoshi Kukuchi in Sendai, Japan.
Tag team crowns didnt escape their clutches on this side of the Pacific either. They twice held the UWA World Tag Team championship in Mexico, in 1992 and 1993. The then-WWF had an all-too-brief taste of the Can-Ams brand of action as well in 1996-7, cut short by a serious car accident in June, 1967 that cost them many months of recovery.
Furnas continued wrestling until 2000, including a run in ECW, when wear and tear from the Japanese strong style and injuries caught up with him, and he began to suffer the effects of Parkinson He located in San Diego where he ran a group home for abused boys, and kept a hand in the family business of raising bucking stock rodeo bulls back in Oklahoma.
SONNY MEYERS 02/23/12
Few could generate as much heat in All-Star Wrestling on Canada’s west coast as Sonny Meyers, who passed away on February 23, 2012 after a long bout of throat cancer, at age 53. He had been living in Cheney, Washington, not far from Spokane, and worked for a moving company.
Not to be confused with grand old veteran Sonny Myers of St. Joseph, Missouri, this most recent incarnation of the name was born Robert Clinton Weathers in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He grew up idolizing Cowboy Bob Kelly, then moved with his family to northern California. There he became a close friend of long-time CAC stalwart Ed “Moondog” Moretti. The two faithfully attended shows in the San Francisco area from the age of 12, and were so enthused with the mat sport that they undertook to train themselves for the pro ring. Even without the benefit of professional training, the pair became proficient enough that they landed a spot on Red Bastien’s promotion in 1978.
The athletic young Weathers, though relatively slim in stature, gained raves for his work right from the start. Before long he was booked in the dying southern California promotion, plying his trade under the various names of Bob Patterson, Bob McFay, Bob Adonis and The Champion. After a couple of years in California, Idaho and Hawaii, he headed north to Vancouver and the All-Star promotion, where promoter Al Tomko dubbed him Sonny Meyers.
A tearaway style and smooth ringwork brought Meyers to the forefront there. He became a familiar face on the BCTV All-Star telecasts, which were shown across much of Canada, and at one time or another carried the promotion’s Canadian and International tag team straps, and the Canadian singles title. In the early 1980’s, he made an effective heel turn that propelled his stock even higher until he called it a career in 1988, when Tomko closed the promotion. In between he made several turns back to the face side, one of the few who could carry that off effectively.
The ring beckoned him one more time in 1997, but the comeback didn’t even last a single night. Meyers shattered his hip taking a suplex on the floor, and that was the end of the line.
Sonny Meyers’s ringmates remember him fondly, among them Ed Moretti and Dirty Dan Denton. There was never a quiet moment when the voluble, free-wheeling Meyers was around, and that situation made him even more memorable. Stories abound of his madman shenanigans, in the ring and out, and everyone who knew him could do a good imitation of his unique voice and colorful vocabulary laying out a match as only he could.
“Sonny’s greatest gift was what he gave to fans on a nightly basis”, Dan Denton wrote on the Slam!Wrestling website. “Love him or hate him, he was a person who had the unique ability to positively take people out of their current lives to suspend disbelief and buy into exactly what Sonny was selling them.”
Johnny “The Money Maker” Diamond 02/11/12
Johnny Diamond was a former professional wrestler and manager turned promoter. He had worked for every major promotion in the world during his time and had been affiliated with the biggest names in wrestling history.
He began his wrestling career in 1973 taking on some of the toughest competitors in the sport – (including a BEAR!!!) and became the world’s most famous wrestler of animals in the process. He formed a notable team with Oscar “Crusher” Verdu. As a regular traveling companion Diamond formed a close personal friendship with Andre the Giant and was often jokingly referred to as “Andre’s shadow”. For reasons unknown to Johnny, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was fond of calling him “Fuzzy”. During his career he became the most famous wrestler of animals (a popular attraction back in the day) in the entire world.
As a manager Johnny was often seen in the corner of “Beautiful” Bobby Harmon and Prince Justice who would later go on to bigger fame as The Monster Abyss in TNA. Diamond also served as interim Commissioner of Intense Wrestling Inc. (IWI) in 2004 where he spent a lot of time toying with Brett Michaels (who was trained by Johnny Diamond) putting stipulations on Michaels matches that forced him to dress in women’s clothing or eat dog food if he lost.
As a promoter he founded several independent promotions in the Greater Cincinnati area including, the Northern Wrestling Federation (NWF), in the early 1990s, Dynamic Wrestling Alliance (DWA) in 2008, Classic Championship Wrestling (CCW) in 2009, and World Renown Wrestling (WRW) which is projected to start in 2012. In addition many other (indeed virtually ALL) promotions in the Cincinnati area also had Johnny Diamond influence. Promotions such as Heartland Wrestling Association (HWA), Elite All Pro Wrestling (EAPW), Legends of the Squared Circle (LSC) and Nation of Wrestling (NOW) – just to name a few – grew from promotions run by Johnny Diamond. And he helped develop such major talents as Abyss and Wildcat Chris Harris from Total Nonstop Action (TNA), And Jillian Hall who went on to become a superstar in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), and countless independent wrestling workers all over the Midwest United States. Diamond ran two different wrestling schools out of Cincinnati. Bonecrushers and Stompers Pro Wrestling
Throughout Diamond’s career he worked with many wrestling legends like Hulk Hogan, George “The Animal” Steele, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, The Iron Sheik, “Beautiful” Bobby Harmon, and was a close friend to the late Andre The Giant having traveled with him on the road working events. Diamond had built up a reputation early in his career for wrestling large animals in the ring like grizzly bears. And even later went on to ring announce for the World Wrestling Federation (WWE). Diamond is also the man responsible for bringing the WWF to the Cincinnati area.
Johnny’s life came to a tragic end on February 11, 2012. While his death was originally reported to be from head injuries suffered from a fall, doctors later said that he died from a heart attack while in his wheelchair BEFORE the fall. He was found by his wife Gen at 11:10 pm.
SAVANNAH JACK 01/17/12
Jim Brunzell may not know it, but as the 1980’s neared their mid-point, he may have saved a life by simply being who he was, a professional wrestler. Climbing on a city bus in Minneapolis, Jim was surprised to find the man behind the wheel was Teddy Russell, whom he’d played football with on the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers team years earlier. The chance meeting got Teddy Russell thinking seriously; if Jim Brunzell could become a wrestler, so could he!
Teddy – born Savannah Svatma Russell in St. Paul in 1948 – was at a crossroads. He’d had youthful problems with the law, felt he was in a dead-end job, and saw no way out of his situation. Taking the bull by the horns, he managed to attract the attention of Verne Gagne and Eddie Sharkey, and showed well enough – he’d practiced tae kwon do for some time – that he had the stuff to make it in the ring. After his apprenticeship, Bills Watts spotted him. Searching for a substitute for Junkyard Dog, who’d moved to the WWF, Watts gave him the spotlight, including the UWF World TV Championship.
Savannah held the title for nearly six months, but unfortunately couldn’t duplicate JYD’s magical fan attraction. Later in 1987, his body began to betray him.Â His strength was failing, his timing was off, he had breathing problems. Physicians advised him to undergo a heart biopsy, but the no-insurance situation most wrestlers faced precluded that. He soldiered on until one night in Texas, when he coughed up a huge blood clot just before his match.
That sealed Savannah Jack’s fate. He drove straight home to Minneapolis, where he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, heart muscle disease. Exertion put him in danger of sudden death; wrestling was but a memory now. He worked as a blackjack dealer and pitboss at Mystic Lake Casino in Minnesota, drove a cab, and finally had to retire completely after a stroke in 2001. Two more strokes followed, then a major cardiac arrest. Life slowed to a crawl, with Russell able to do very little for the past number of years.
Interviewed by a Minneapolis newspaper three years ago, Teddy Russell exhibited no bitterness about his plight. “That’s life,” he told the reporter. “It’s what life dealt for me. I could be dead right now.” He showed an old publicity picture, posed against a white background, flexing his fists. Pointing at the picture, he smiled broadly. “I had the time of my life,” he says. “I can say I’m the luckiest man.”
He is survived by his life partner, Juli Grage, sons Peyton and Kai Russell, grandsons Daesk and Rowan, and two sisters.
JACK BARNES 01/15/12
Jack Spencer Barnes, who wrestled for a short time under a mask, passed away as a result of an ATV accident in Oklahoma on January 15, 012. He was 73 years of age.
Born in 1938 and raised in Muskogee, OK, he went to work for his father’s repossession firm following high school and eventually took over the business. In the 1960’s, he took a flyer at becoming a wrestler and had a short career under the mask as The Great Bolo and as one of the many Dr. X clones active all across the U.S.Â He also wrestled bears on a few occasions.
Barnes packed an amazing array of skills and accomplishments into his lifetime. A lifelong entrepreneur, he was also an author, speaker, advertising executive, cowboy, soldier, racehorse owner, pilot and certified flight instructor (fixed wing and rotary) and diver. His personal life was no less packed with interests: marksman, photographer, karaoke singer, fisherman, hunter and skier.
He and his wife Brenda raised two daughters and two sons, and counted among their extended family nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Lucha libre legend MS-1, one of the most respected luchadores in Mexico in the final two decades of the twentieth century, passed away as a result of an auto accident on January 12, 2012. He died in Huamantla, Tlaxcala, about 100 miles east of Mexico City.
Born in Salvatierra, Guanajuato on December 31, 1956, Pablo Fuentes Reina made his professional wrestling debut on July 12, 1978, bare-faced and under his own name. EMLL, the forerunner of CMLL, signed him the following year and gave him a masked identity. He became MS-1, which is the highest rank in a Mexican anti-terrorist corps, and was initially tagged up with a clone, MS-2. Fuentes’s talent shone through quickly, though, and he was soon featured as a singles wrestler. He maintained the masked persona for nearly four years, finally losing a “bet match” where each man wagered his mask, to Rayo de Jalisco, Jr. on July 2, 1982.
The unmasking didn’t undermine Fuentes’s popularity as a rudo idol; a very handsome man, he maintained a high profile in lucha circles, and developed a huge following. He became a prime mover in the trios concept, three-man teams that swept the Mexican mat world in the mid-1980’s, heading up a team known as Los Infernales. MS-1, Pirata Morgan and El Satanico, one of the most successful combinations of all time, held the World and Mexican National Trios Championships.
The mid-1980’s saw MS-1 ascend to the NWA World Light-Heavyweight Championship on two occasions, defeating Ringo Mendoza in 1985 and his long-time rival Rayo de Jalisco Jr. in 1987. His two world title reigns lasted a total of eight months.
His career continued well into the 1990’s. He parted company with CMLL in 1996, then later appeared as Kripter and later Alienigena II in AAA, and on the independent circuit. Fuentes also promoted in the area around Naucalpan, and even resurrected the Los Infernales magic, triple teaming with his son who worked as MS-1 Jr. or MS-2 and another local wrestler. He quietly retired from active wrestling and promotion as the century closed, though he continued to train aspiring luchadores in Huamantla.
AUNT KITTY 01/08/12
Kitty Burke, who managed the “bad girls” of GLOW for several years, passed away on January 8, 2012.
The matronly figure of “Aunt Kitty”, frilly umbrella in hand, patrolled ringside during her girls’ matches in the novel promotion that debuted in 1986. Though she wasn’t an in-ring competitor, she managed to insinuate herself into the thick of the action in many a match. Her opposite number was Jackie Stallone, the mother of actor Sylvester Stallone, who managed the “good girls” of GLOW.
Kitty was no stranger to the show business spotlight. She had appeared off-Broadway for two years, toured with actress Jayne Mansfield, and had a part in the movie “She Devil” in the course of her career.
“(It was) a true honor to know the sweetest, most lovable bad girl manager in the business,” said fellow GLOW performer Little Egypt, on hearing of her passing.
Chotu, an Indian wrestler with the new Ring Ka King promotion in that country, passed away on January 7, 2012. He reportedly died of cardiac arrest.
He was born Dharam Prakash Bhojwani 29 years ago, and was known to his family and friends as “Babu”. A tall youngster, he grew to a legitimate height of seven feet two inches during his high school years, though others in his family were of normal size. Aware of the success that his mammoth, though slightly shorter, countryman The Great Khali had achieved in North America, Babu recently embarked on a ring career as Chotu. He was scheduled to debut for Ring Ka King, the new Indian venture backed by American promotion TNA.