I got the sad news via mass email from Lanny Poffo that he'd just received a call Monday from Bunny "Burmeister" Christerson. Her longtime partner in the ring and life was gone in husband and fellow CAC Honoree, Paul "Golden Boy" Christy(Paul Christerson). "My very dear friend Paul Christy passed away at the age of 82." As Bunny Love, she'd shared in Paul's wrestling career as his beautiful manager/valet beginning in early 1979 and lasting over ten years.
Paul Christy was a longtime CAC member and attendee, who gave a great speech on-stage, looking back at all the fun and friends he had in the business. In 2006, they were the first husband and wife duo given co-awards at CAC. Bunny's speech was also memorable and she recounted some of the survival tactics that got them through life as a real-life couple who "always looked out for each other and had so much fun along the way." Their love and unity as a couple was unmistakable, with each paying tribute and respect to the other.
They also got married that year in Vegas "after a very long engagement," Bunny "Bunny Love" Burmeister said at the time. She was a fan at WWA Bruiser/Snyder promoted shows and told CAC's Bill Kociaba "I was around 18 when I met Chris (Paul's nickname) for the very first time. I saw him just hanging around and thought he was gorgeous. We started talking and I gave him my number. It took him a few months to call, but once he did, we became inseparable."
She managed him and several of his tag partners from 1979 through 1989 but in real life they were never apart as a legit couple. They were trailblazers after legends like Gorgeous George and valet/wife Cherie Dupree, Sheik and Princess Salima(his wife Joyce Farhat), Hustler Rip Rogers and Brenda Britton and of course Adrian Street and Miss Linda, who also got married at CAC a few years later with "Father" Don Leo Jonathon famously presiding.
During his career, besides holding the WWA World Tag Titles three times, Paul also held the ICW World Title and the ICW United States championship twice. In his NWA forays, he'd held the Southern Tag Titles/Gulf Coast version a record four times with Kenny Lucas besides the Gulf Coast Tag Championships also with Ken.
Paul told me he grew up as a tough kid just outside Chicago, attending Mt. Carmel Catholic High School("where I really had to shape up and behave!")thanks to a swimming scholarship but later transferred to Harper High where he then also excelled at amateur grappling. Several years after graduation, Paul was introduced to the wrestling industry by occasional pro wrestler Jack Thornton(his boss at the time at the local health club) who liked his look and said he saw potential in him as a possible wrestler himself.
"Jack convinced me to at least give it "a one-match-try." Paul later debuted in 1959 after "some hellacious training," winning his first match at his favorite arena, historic Marigold Arena. "I won, caught the bug and never looked back. It just felt right," he told me in 2004.
I made so many friends who also helped me along the way. Bruiser, Snyder, Art Thomas, Bobo, Moose Cholak, Ernie Ladd, Jimmy Raschke, Jerry Graham, Chris Markoff and my brother Angelo Poffo and his family. And I got to see the world with my friends and of course my love Bunny. How great a life is that? We had the most fun ever, non-stop."
Paul might be best known for his WWA/Dick the Bruiser promotion heel work both in WWA homebase of Indianapolis but also when Bruiser challenged Sheik in Detroit in that major early to mid 70's territory war. He was WWA tag champs with co-promotion owner Wilbur Snyder, later his roadmates Moose Cholak and Roger "Rip" Kirby(CAC attendee). But Paul worked other territories before and after including in Amarillo for Dory Funk Sr. And an incredible run in the Poffo family promotion, the early 80's ICW culminating in an World Title run after beating Randy Savage(who he later would serve as best man when Randy married Liz Heulette aka Miss Elizabeth). "Angelo's ICW may have been the greatest outlaw promotion of all time, Paul told me. Look at all the talent that came through there. Bob Orton Jr, Ronnie Garvin, guys who started there like Crusher Broomfeld who later became big stars like One Man Gang."
Paul also told me some great stories at CAC about working for Iron Mike DiBiase in Phoenix, Arizona("they had their own Madison Square Garden there! But it didn't look like the more famous one.") and for Dory Sr in Amarillo("the fans demanded excellence there and were really rough on the heels."). When I started a good run for Dick(The Bruiser)in the WWA, I convinced him to let me have Bunny also work with me as my manager. We really clicked and she could cut a promo, let me tell you!" Bruiser wasn't sure initially, but soon said 'she's terrific.' And he let her do more things. She really knew the business and loved it 150%." In the Poffo ICW, they were even billed as "Wrestling's Bonnie and Clyde" with their own unique entrance music.
Paul shared a daytime vendor table several times at the CAC's he attended in the early 2000's, selling his self-published autobiography next to longtime midwest friends like Jimmy Valiant and Ox Baker. Paul kept calling Ox "the quiet one" which was hilarious as Ox might've been the loudest wrestler ever. "Never needed a mike, did you" he said jokingly while also calling Ox "the human boombox." Bobby Heenan "mock-refused" to share the table "with that rogue's gallery" and sold his books across from that motley Midwest, Bruiser WWA crew. "I moved as far as possible from you guys as I could but it's not far enough," Bobby joked. "I wanted some peace and quiet." Ox said that day "Paul still looks like Adam West(TV's Batman) to me."
Paul and I also loved performing magic and at the 2005 CAC, we tried to outdo each other with card and coin tricks at his table. He was very impressive at even the most difficult sleight of hand like The Faro Shuffle and also cutting two decks of cards, one in each hand, simultaniously. During his brief 1986 stint with WWF, he even performed some of that magic on a famous Tuesday Night Titans tv show for hosts Vince McMahon and Lord Al Hayes(both later CAC attendees). Each time at the '05 CAC, whenever Paul would spot someone from his past, he'd stop what he was doing and race up to hug them. He was certainly a highlight that year we honored him in Vegas, showing great affection for so many friends he and Bunny hadn't seen in years.
Besides her passion for tigers on her online sites, Bunny also has pictures posted all over of she and Paul in Vegas for CAC beyond photos of them through their years together. Always together as a real team, so happily in love. And her remarkable posted quote: "I love the person I've become, because I fought to become her." She certainly "fought" in the wrestling biz, and always with Paul at her side.
We deeply regret the loss of our brother Paul.
*Lanny Poffo on Paul Christy: "Paul was very patient with me when I was just learning to wrestle. He was always a lot of fun!"