President Brian Blair named to Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame

By Andy Warrener, Times Correspondent: Tampa native Brian Blair will receive a pair of honors July 10 and 11 in Waterloo, Ind.  Blair was unanimously voted into the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and will be receiving the Lou Thesz Award.

“To be unanimously picked by the board to receive the Lou Thesz Award and become an inductee is humbling and it’s the epitome of my sports career,” said Blair, who was a Hillsborough County commissioner from 2004-08. “I’m very thankful, and I know I will be at a loss for words July 11.”

The 2015 class includes current and former professional wrestlers Kurt Angle and the Great Wojo (Greg Wojciechowski). Blair joins Larry “the Axe” Hennig (2014 class) as the only wrestlers inducted into the Hall of Fame and awarded the Lou Thesz, which is presented to individuals who have taken the skills of the mat into the realm of public service. Thesz, a six-time world champion who enjoyed an almost 60-year career, was part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2002.

Blair is best known for his role as a member of the Killer Bees tag team, along with partner “Jumpin’ ” Jim Brunzell during the former WWF and current WWE’s heyday. Blair competed as part of the Killer Bees during Wrestlemania III, which set an indoor attendance record that stood for 23 years.

In his 38-year career, Blair wrestled in 6,000-plus matches in more than 50 countries. What stands out even more than Blair’s wrestling credentials is his public service.

Blair started the first Police Athletic League amateur wrestling tournament in Tampa in 1985 and was a volunteer Little League coach for more than 20 years. Blair ran twice for the Hillsborough County Commission, defeating current Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn during his second run. He also has more than 7,000 documented hours of community service with more than 20 different organizations.

“I probably have double the community service hours than anyone sitting in the county office, ever,” Blair said.

Recently, Blair became president and CEO of the nonprofit Cauliflower Alley Club. The club helps current and former pro and amateur wrestlers with financial challenges, and Blair has been a member since 2001.

Blair’s roots in wrestling and in Tampa run deep. He moved here from Gary, Ind., at age 11 and attended Egypt Lake Elementary. Wrestling, both amateur and pro, was always on his mind.

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