Tuesday, October 25, 2016

REMEMBER GEORGE HARBEN?


GEORGE HARBEN

I certainly do.

I remember George Harben as the ring announcer on WBTV's CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING TV program, which was video taped every Wednesday night in Charlotte and broadcast that following Saturday afternoon.

And for a number of those years, the same program was broadcast over WBTV's 'sister station' in FlorenceSouth Carolina.

However, MrHarben's career in the wrestling business went back quite a bit further than announcing on television and at house shows at PARK CENTER and the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM.

Harben was born in Stone MountainGeorgia, a famous historical spot that is still visited by tourists the year round. He broke into the business as a wrestler in 1933 and had an active career until retiring in 1956.

In 1935, George helped train one of the all-time greats of modern wrestling, none other than LOU THESZ, who went on to become WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION six times. THESZ was a young boy of eighteen when he worked with Harben.

In 1940, during the years of World War 2, George Harben made a trip to Australia by boat to wrestle and was on board when the vessel was struck by a mine off the coast of New Zealand.

He also wrestled in Cuba before Fidel Castro took control of that country.

George Harben wrestled with his brother Charlie over most of the United States as a tag team. The two were in the main event that drew the largest crowd to ever witness a wrestling card at the old CHARLOTTE ARMORY. It was in early 1953, and the Harbens' opponents were GEORGE and BOBBY BECKER.

Besides his ring announcing duties for JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONSHarben also assisted in advertising the company's wrestling shows in several other towns besides Charlotte and for a while promoted house shows in HickoryNorth Carolina.

George Harben passed away some years ago, but I can still his voice---
"Good evening Ladies and Gentleman and welcome to another exciting evening of Championship Wrestling on Channel 3."

GEORGE HARBEN during his career as a wrestler.







Jim Harben said...
I remember George Harben. He continued in promotions and advertisement for Jim Crockett promotions until his death. Professional wrestling was is life. He died at my kitchen table of heart failure following a hospital stay and procedure for prostate cancer. He is survived by three sons and one daughter, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

ANOTHER LABOR DAY AT CHARLOTTE'S BIG DOME

September 4, 1961
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
-
55 Years Ago

Eighteen wrestlers, including four girl grapplers, will make up the summer's biggest wrestling card at the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM tonight.

Heading the big LABOR DAY spectacular will be a tag team match that pits two teams noted for rough tactics and no regard for the rule book.
-
No doubt, one of the season's rowdiest bouts will occur when the German brother team of KURT and KARL VON BRAUNER meet THE MASKED MEDICS. 'Gentleman' SAUL WEINEGROFF will be in the corner of the Germans, as usual, displaying his managerial skills. THE MASKED MEDICS, who claim they were both kicked out of medical school for not following 'protocol,' say they will handle WEINEGROFF if he gets out of line. Both teams have cut paths in tag team avenues since coming here, so something's gotta give in the best-of-three falls clash.

The co-main event will also pack a wallop tonight as fan favorite CHIEF BIG HEART meets the rugged JOHNNY VALENTINE, also set for two-out-of-three falls.

Then come the girls as BABS WINGO and LULA MAE PROVO take on PEARL BATES and RAMONA ISABEL in tag team action.
-
Yet another tag encounter has GEORGE BECKER teaming with New Zealander ABE JACOBS against LAVERNE BAXTER and TOMMY O'TOOLE.

'DR.' EDDIE GRAHAM will face Oriental P.Y. CHUNG, and the 8:15 opener sends RAY VILLMER against GYPSY JOE.

Monday, October 17, 2016

BOO THE BAD GUYS

Today, I shine the spotlight on a group of the bad guys of MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING.

When I say 'bad', I don't mean poor wrestlers, but rather, the 'heels' of the business.

These are the guys who broke the rules. They pulled hair, they pulled tights, they double-teamed their opponents, they deliberately got themselves disqualified to save their championships, some even threw fire.

An integral part of the wrestling equation. For every hero, there had to be a villain. Someone to 'acquire the ire' of the wrestling fan. A catalyst to fuel the 'heat' of a match.

In short, someone the public would spend money to buy a wrestling ticket to see get beat and to get beaten.

Here are six such wrestling personalities:

BRONCHO LUBICH

(Best known in JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS for teaming with ALDO BOGNI and managed by HOMER O'DELL, but was later managed by GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS, and later teamed with BRUTE BERNARD or CHRIS MARKOFF.)

FRANK MORRELL

(A bigger star in Tennessee, known as 'The King of Kingsport'. In JCP, FRANK was mostly an undercard scoundrel. His experience was a factor in making MORRELL one of the better jobbers for a number of years.)

PAMPERO FIRPO

(Known as 'The Wild Bull of the Pampas', is best remembered in JCP teaming with THE MISSOURI MAULER a.k.a. LARRY HAMILTON as a main event team. After retiring from the ring, he went to work for the U.S. POSTAL SERVICE--make up your own joke there.)

MIKE YORK

(Mike York formed a tag team with "brother" JAY YORK as THE ALASKANS and later with FRANK MONTE. In JCP, the duo was mostly mid-card status, but did have some main event matches.)

DOC and MIKE GALLAGHER

(A top team throughout the wrestling world in the late 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s. JCP main eventers for a number of years. Around 1973, after retiring from the ring, MIKE formed a short-lived independent wrestling company with GEORGE BECKER, based in Charlotte, N.C.)

'PLAYBOY' GARY HART, RIP HAWK, SWEDE HANSON

(What can I say about these guys that hasn't been said? One of the greatest teams in wrestling histories. RIP and SWEDE were together for about sixteen years, HART joined them as their manager in 1969. They headlined wrestling cards in every territory they worked.)

Saturday, October 15, 2016

CHEER THE GOOD GUYS

Today, I shine the spotlight on a group of the good guys of MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING.

Called 'babyfaces' in the business, these are the wrestlers 'we the people' love to watch carry out the ideals of good, clean living. They live by the creed of wrestling by the rule book (although when provoked, will 'fight fire with fire' to settle a score). No hair pulling, no eye gouging, no low blows.

Although the line between good guys and bad guys is a bit thinner in the business now than in days gone by, we buy wrestling tickets and pull to see these heroes dish out 'truth, justice and the American Way' to the perpetrators of evil.

Here are six such wrestling personalities:

THE MIGHTY IGOR
(Richard Joseph Garza - 1931-2002)

A former AWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, he used the 'gentle giant' gimmick, loved children and puppy dogs. Came to JCP from the IWA. His biggest feud in the MID-ATLANTIC territory came when BORIS MALENKO and THE MASKED SUPERSTAR (Bill Eadie) burned him in the eye with a lit cigar.

RED BASTIEN
(Rolland Bastein -1931-2012)

Top 'babyface' throughout the wrestling world, did several stints in JCP, one during his prime in the early 1960s, then later in the mid-1970s as a mid-card worker.)

SONNY KING
(Larry Johnson)

A boxer-turned wrestler, he enjoyed success as a WWWF Tag Team Champion before coming to JCP in 1974 as a 'relative' of BEARCAT WRIGHT to feud with JOHNNY VALENTINE. In 1982, he was seriously stabbed at the CHARLOTTE COLISEUM.

TINY ANDERSON a.k.a. GRIZZLY SMITH
(Aurelian Smith - 1930-2010)

Father of wrestlers JAKE ROBERTS, SAM HOUSTON and ROCKIN' ROBIN, this man did everything there is to do in the wrestling business. In CROCKETT country, he's best remembered as one of THE KENTUCKIANS (with BIG BOY BROWN), who had monumental battles with THE GREAT BOLO and BOLO, as well as every other top heel team in MID-ATLANTIC WRESTLING. In the late 1960s, he teamed in JCP with MR. WRESTLING (TIM WOODS), and repeated the cycle.

ARGENTINA APOLLO
(Vincente Denigris - 1938-1984)

A professional painter as well as wrestler, APOLLO was a top star in every wrestling territory he worked, holding a vast array of championships. He made his mark in JCP in 1972-1973, becoming the partner of top good guy JOHNNY WEAVER, after decade-long partner GEORGE BECKER left the CROCKETT company.

TONY ATLAS
(Anthony White - born 1944)

Three-time 'MR. U.S.A.' in the field of bodybuilding, he started wrestling in JCP in 1975, had big feuds with both THE IRON SHEIK and KEN PATERA, and became MID-ATLANTIC HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION. Later worked for WORLD CLASS WRESTLING, the AWA and WWF (now WWE).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

LET'S HAVE A BATTLE ROYAL

October 2, 1965
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
---
51 Years Ago

ABE JACOBS

HAYSTACKS CALHOUN

IKE EAKINS

JOHNNY HEIDEMAN
--
JESSE JAMES

'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS
---
A wild type of professional wrestling comes up at the LEXINGTON YMCA tonight when ten heavyweights, including mammoths HAYSTACKS CALHOUN and TWO TON HARRIS collide in an OVER-THE-TOP ROPE BATTLE ROYAL.

The rules stipulate that a wrestler must be thrown over the top rope down to the arena floor to be eliminated from the match. The last man standing in the ring will be declared the winner and shall receive the top paycheck.

The ten wrestlers involved will first be paired up in five singles matches, then shall return for the evening's BATTLE ROYAL finale.

The five matches are as follows:

HAYSTACKS CALHOUN versus GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

ABE JACOBS versus IKE EAKINS

STEVE BOLUS versus PEDRO ZAPATA

JESSE JAMES versus 'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS

PEPPY GOMEZ versus JOHNNY HEIDEMAN

Action begins at 8:15.

GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

THE STARS WERE BRIGHT EVERY NIGHT

The skies may have been cloudy some nights, but when JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS brought MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING to your town, the stars came out every night...


BRONCHO LUBICH

'JUMPIN' JIM BRUNZELL

DINO BRAVO

'CRUSHER' JERRY BLACKWELL

BOB ORTON JR. and SR.

BOBBY SHANE and KLONDIKE BILL

BILLY and JIMMY HINES
(The UNMASKED RED DEMONS)

Friday, October 7, 2016

LONG TIME RIVALS CLASH AGAIN

May 7, 1966
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

A LUMBERJACK MATCH arrangement should keep blonde ruffians RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON in the ring tonight when they are rematched against their long-time nemesis team of GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER in the main event match of the LEXINGTON YMCA wrestling card.

Eight husky grapplers slated for action in the evening's supporting bouts will be stationed around the ring to keep the contestants contained and to avert a runout of the type employed by HAWK and HANSON last Saturday night.

Another tag team contest is on tap when the terrific Texans, TEX McKENZIE and NELSON ROYAL return to meet the German rulebreakers KURT and HENRY VON STROHEIM.

Both tag matches are set for the best two-of-three falls.

Big IKE EAKINS squares off against ROGER KIRBY in singles competition.

In the 8:15 opening match, Mexican GORY GUERRERO faces 'ROWDY RED ROBERTS'.

GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER

RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON

HENRY VON STROHEIM and TEX McKENZIE

NELSON ROYAL

HENRY and KURT VON STROHEIM

'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS

Monday, October 3, 2016

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

During his unparalleled career, RIC FLAIR probably wrestled the largest array of wrestling stars than any other performer in the business.

Here are but a few...

ROCKY JOHNSON

WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION PAT O'CONNOR

THE AVENGER
(REGGIE PARKS)

WAHOO MCDANIEL
(Their feud is what put FLAIR on the radar.)

TIGER CONWAY, JR.

WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION HARLEY RACE

MR. WRESTLING TIM WOODS

BLACKJACK MULLIGAN
What JCP fan can ever forget the hat / robe program...

RUFUS R. JONES

'Cousin' OLE ANDERSON