In the late 1950s, JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS was virtually built around one guy, a really 'bad guy'...THE GREAT BOLO.
He wore a yellow gold mask with matching attire. No wrestling fan knew his true identity, and according to a lengthy interview by the man under the hood himself (TOM RENESTO), the other wrestlers didn't, at the time, know either. This idea, he said, was designed by JIM CROCKETT himself. BIG JIM felt that keeping the wrestler's identity a real secret made for a more realistic approach to the storyline.
THE GREAT BOLO had his own private dressing room, and he wore the mask into the building upon arrival and out of the building when he left.
(I'm not sure if I really buy into that, but true or not, it makes a great story.)
THE GREAT BOLO was BIG! Fans laid out their money every night in some city hoping to find out who the guy really was. All of the top wrestlers ('babyfaces' and 'heels') in the territory worked the masked man.
I experienced my first LIVE wrestling event fifty-seven years ago at the old semi-pro baseball park one summer night in Statesville, North Carolina. The main event was Indian star BILLY TWO RIVERS VERSUS THE GREAT BOLO. Next to GEORGE BECKER, BILLY was the top 'good guy' in JCP at the time.
Most of us tikes in the neighborhood went. We lived in a black and white world in the late Fifties, and when THE GREAT BOLO stepped out of one of the dugouts and made his way towards the ring, we were stunned by the bright gold colors. Up to that point, we could only guess what colors he wore. On black and white TV, it could have been most any shade.
My group, along with some other local kids, made a dash towards the masked man, whopping it up and trying to taunt him. A threatening move and a loud growl-like sound scattered us all back to our grandstand seats in record-setting speed.
Several years later, with tag team wrestling becoming extremely popular, THE GREAT BOLO brought in a partner BOLO (JODY HAMILTON). From this point on, the duo was billed as THE GREAT BOLO and BOLO, or simply THE BOLOS.
Either way, they were just as hot as RENESTO had been as a single.
In one of the hottest and biggest JCP feuds of all time, a bloodied BOLO (ripped mask and all) battles BIG BOY BROWN of THE KENTUCKIANS.
It's going to be a long way down anytime TINY ANDERSON of THE KENTUCKIANS gives you a body slam.
BOLO makes a bumpy landing in this non-JCP photo.
Had this been in the MID-ATLANTIC area, the bleachers would have been packed with fans.
The BOLO applies a chin lock to ABE JACOBS.
For the full story of the history of THE BOLOS (later THE ASSASSINS), every wrestling fan should read JODY HAMILTON's fantastic book, ASSASSIN: THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK, co-written by SCOTT TEAL.