Friday, August 16, 2019

THE SIZZLING SIXTIES

From West Virginia to South Carolina, JCP fans had no trouble finding great wrestling entertainment...


ABE JACOBS
---
CHARLESTON, W.V. - 1969

ABE JACOBSGEORGE and SANDY SCOTT topped LARSGENE and OLE ANDERSON in six man action.

LITTLE BRUISER pinned COWBOY LANG.

PAUL DEMARCO and BOB RAMSTEAD lost to THE RED DEMONS.

LES WOLFE toppled TINKER TODD.

GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT
---
LYNCHBURG, VA. - 1968

GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT bested HARU SASAKI and P.Y. CHUNG.

BOBBY RED CLOUD and CHIEF LITTLE EAGLE won over THE INFERNOS with J.C. DYKES via DQ.

CHUCK CONLEY topped THE MATADOR.

ROGER KIRBY pinned ALEX MEDINA.

JOHN and CHRIS TOLOS
---
GREENVILLE, S.C. - 1966

JOHNNY WEAVER defeated JOHN and CHRIS TOLOS in a Handicap Match.

GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT bested MIKE GALLAGHER and PEDRO ZAPATA.

'THE BIG O' BOB ORTON stopped RON REED*

LUTHER LINDSAY pinned 'ROWDY' RED ROBERTS.

'THE BIG O' BOB ORTON
---
RICHMOND, VA. - 1966

KURT and HENRY VON STROHEIM beat GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT.

GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER won from 'THE BIG O' BOB ORTON and THE GREAT MALENKO.

IKE EAKINS topped JIM GRABMIRE.

DON CHUY pinned MIKE PAIDOUSIS.

TEX McKENZIE
---
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - 1966

ALDO BOGNI and BRONCHO LUBICH with HOMER O'DELL lost to TEX McKENZIE and NELSON ROYAL.

RIP HAWK and SWEDE HANSON defeated ABE JACOBS and RUDY KAYE.

PAUL DEMARCO topped GENE ANDERSON.

GEORGE 'CATALINA' DRAKE pinned GORY GUERRERO.

JESSE JAMES
---
ROANOKE, VA. - 1969

ALDO BOGNIBRONCHO LUBICH and GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS won over GEORGE and SANDY SCOTT and LES WOLFE in six man action.

GREG PETERSON and JESSE JAMES bested TOM BRADLEY and JOHNNY HEIDEMAN.

RANDY CURTIS defeated GEORGE GRANT.

EL GAUCHO topped RON CHARLES.
---
RON REED later wrestled as BUDDY COLT.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

BECKER'S BACK IN LEXINGTON


May 6, 1961
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

P.Y. CHUNG *

GEORGE BECKER

BOB NANDOR

FRAN GRAVETTE

TERRY GARVIN


RITA CORTEZ
---
Fan favorite GEORGE BECKER will face the crafty Oriental bully, P.Y. CHUNG, in a special challenge match that headlines tonight's wrestling card at the LEXINGTON YMCA.

BECKER asked for the match himself after he and SANDY SCOTT defeated CHUNG and partner MIKE PAIDOUSIS in tag action last Saturday night.

Following last week's match, CHUNG rammed BECKER into the ring post, splitting his head open. GEORGE declared revenge and asked the promoter for a one-on-one contest with CHUNG.

The match has been signed and will be fought under two-out-of-three falls and one hour time limit stipulations.

A girls tag team match supports the main event with the diabolical duo of SLAVE GIRL MOOLAH and the lovely-but-deadly RITA CORTEZ meeting popular FRAN GRAVETTE and the amazing JUDY GRABLE.

Bullies KEN COOPER and JACK BENARD meet in one preliminary, and European champion BOB NANDOR squares off against tough TERRY GARVIN in the 8:15 opener.
---
P.Y. CHUNG wrestled in other territories as Tojo Yamamoto.

Monday, August 12, 2019

THE 1966 STATESVILLE SUMMER OF WRESTLING - PART THREE

September 2, 1966
STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA




CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


Time for one more outdoor wrestling card before Jack Frost starts to appear.

The third and final JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS wrestling show of the summer, again sponsored by the COMMUNITY BASEBALL CLUB, came to town Labor Day weekend.

And what a treat for the locals...a true legend in all sports...LOU THESZ, multiple-time WORLD'S HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION.

On this night, THESZ, then fifty years of age, showed those of us in attendance, that he could still go at full throttle.

And he and partner ABE "Kiwi Roll" JACOBS would have their hands full, as their opponents this night were two devious ruffians in THE MISSOURI MAULER and THE GREAT MALENKO, one of the top heel teams at the time.

Not surprisingly, the two combos split the first and second falls. Jacobs took the loss for his team--no way Thesz is going to lose a fall clean. At the climax of the third fall, just as Thesz took the "hot tag" and was cleaning up the ring with the "M & M" boys, Malenko pulled the referee in front of him, and Thesz dropkicked the referee, causing an immediate disqualification.

MAULER and MALENKO made a fast exit through their dugout to their dressing room, and I assume, spun out of the Statesville Senior High School parking lot heading back for Charlotte on that pre-Interstate 77 highway night.

Earlier in the evening, KLONDIKE BILL, getting a major push by JCP, took the toll of GEORGE "TWO TON" HARRIS in what was billed as a BATTLE OF THE MAT GIANTS by big-splashing "Bunk" before "Bunk" could big splash him. Oh well, "do unto others..."

Veteran IKE EAKINS crushed KEN HOLLIS and a young BOBBY SHANE (just getting started in the wrestling business) pinned a much-larger "BIG BOY" BLONDELL.

Another great crowd...another great night...another great summer of wrestling in my home town.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

THE 1966 STATESVILLE SUMMER OF WRESTLING - PART TWO

August 12, 1966
STATESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA


CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE


Just three weeks after drawing a crowd of nearly 1400 fans, Statesville, North Carolina, hosted it's second of three JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS wrestling cards of the summer.


There was a minimum of two objects which would be at the baseball park behind Statesville Senior High School this night...a wrestling ring at home plate and...me.

Fortunately, I had lots of company. Another large crowd was in attendance this night to add to the coffers of both JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS and the COMMUNITY BASEBALL CLUB, which sponsored the event.

The SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP was up for grabs (we thought) this night. Of course, a key championship was not going to change hands in a hamlet the size of Statesville, but the participants had us all believing that it could happen.

Champions BOGNI and LUBICH and challengers McKENZIE and ROYAL were in the third and deciding fall. TEX and NELLIE were on the verge of capturing the titles when that low-down, unscrupulous manager HOMER O'DELL wacked ROYAL with his cane (in the referee's vision), causing his team to be disqualified, thus enabling BRONCHO and ALDO to leave the "City of Progress" with the belts which had accompanied them to our fair town.

Disappointment? Sure, but we had definitely witnessed a great match which made us all "believe" - something rare in today's "sports entertainment."

The MINNESOTA WRECKING CREW, i.e., the original incarnation of the name, wrestled separately this night. LARS took the toll of ABE JACOBS, and GENE toppled youngster PAUL DEMARCO.

KEN HOLLIS pinned CORSICA JEAN to open the show, but this was not a big deal as my grandmother probably could have pinned CORSICA JEAN.

Regardless, any time "many of the top TV wrestling stars" came to town was worth plopping down the two bucks to sit two hours in a hard-on-the-bottom steel chair in the infield dirt of the ball park.

And in just three more weeks, the stars of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS would return again.

THE 1966 STATESVILLE SUMMER OF WRESTLING - PART ONE

Statesville, North Carolina wrestling fans (and I was one) were treated to THREE nights of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS wrestling shows during the summer of 1966.

A perfect location for wrestling during the summer months...the wooden grandstand ball park similar to that in the movie BULL DURHAM. Sponsored by the COMMUNITY BASEBALL CLUB, who also gave us DOUBLE A BASEBALL at the same site. The ring was set up at home plate, surrounded by metal ringside seat chairs all around. The grandstand served as the General Admission area. The wrestlers entered the ring from the two dugouts.

No rainouts during the summer of 1966. THREE shows in TWO months.

As a fifteen-year old 'rasslin' fan, I found myself at all three shows parked in my $2.00 ringside seat.

This was the first card of the 1966 summer...



CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE





The match results are shown above.
-
For whatever reasons (maybe analysis would reveal why), two memories come back to me about this night.

(1) My cousin, who attended with me, spilled a cup of Coca-Cola on himself during the matches.

(2) One of The Masked Red Demons (either Billy or Jimmy Hines) came out of the dugout for the main event smoking a cigarette (through the mask), discarding it as he approached the ring. I thought to myself - "Athletes aren't supposed to smoke." Give me a break, I was a naive fifteen year-old who was reading FAMOUS MONSTERS and wrestling magazines, instead of PLAYBOY, at the time. (Don't worry, the PLAYBOYs came later.)

Regardless of my mental stability, I remember the evening fondly.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

NELSON ROYAL


Ricky Ferrara is at Nelson's mercy as Royal works on his opponent's arm.

A familiar sight in Virginia and the Carolinas...Nelson has his hand raised.

Cowboy Nelson Royal looks over his Mooresville, N.C. ranch.

Fellow wrestlers Tiger Conway Jr. and Ed Wiskowski (later Colonel DeBeers) enjoy one of the many charity rodeo events Nelson sponsored at his ranch.


He lived on a twenty acre tract of land in Mooresville, North Carolina and was one of the town's most outstanding citizens at the time.
He devoted countless hours of his life helping those less fortunate. He organized numerous benefit rodeo shows at his arena for many charitable organizations as well as putting together softball games and the like for community purposes.
Besides being a good citizen and a friend to many, the man in question was by profession a heavyweight wrestler named NELSON ROYAL.

Nelson began his in-ring career around 1961 and came to JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS a few years later. 'Nellie' actually wrestled as a heel upon his arrival (using the name SIR NELSON ROYAL) and often teamed with THE VIKING.

He soon 'switched' to babyface and his incredible JCP career took off. The front office teamed Nelson with the tall, lanky TEX McKENZIE, and they quickly became one of the territory's top 'good guy' teams, alongside BECKER & WEAVER and the FLYING SCOTTS.

After several years, TEX left the area, and ROYAL was then paired with JCP newcomer PAUL JONES. Nelson and Paul were as popular as Nelson and Tex, and the 'Royal Run' continued.

Later, Nelson teamed with greats such as Sandy Scott, Les Thatcher and The Amazing Zuma and worked as a single.

Royal 'feuded' with all of the 'heel' teams that made their way through JCP for nearly twenty years and was always a favorite of the fans, in and out of the ring.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Buddy Colt before he was Buddy Colt

August 21, 1965
LEXINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

HAYSTACKS CALHOUN

SKULL MURPHY and BRUTE BERNARD

ABE JACOBS

GEORGE 'CATALINA' DRAKE

GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS

MIKE GALLAGHER

RON REED
(later BUDDY COLT)

GORY GUERRERO

TINKER TODD

The Mighty HAYSTACKS CALHOUN and speedy ABE JACOBS join forces as a tag team tonight and will face the rowdy skinhead duo of BRUTE BERNARD and SKULL MURPHY in the evening's main event wrestling bout at the LEXINGTON YMCA.

CALHOUN, the "world's biggest wrestler" and JACOBS, known for his "kee-wee roll" should give their rule-breaking opponents plenty of competition in the best two-out-of-three falls contest.

Another big operator, GEORGE 'TWO TON' HARRIS meets the very popular GEORGE 'CATALINA' DRAKE' in the co-main event, scheduled for the best-of-three falls.

Three top preliminaries are also on tap with big stars involved.

RON REED will face off against rowdy MIKE GALLAGHER.

RAY DURAN will meet young OMAR ATLAS.

Two veterans will compete when GORY GUERRERO challenges TINKER TODD.

Friday, August 2, 2019

GREAT WHILE IT LASTED

All good things must come to an end, and JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS was one of those things, but wasn't it great when we could get in our cars and journey to nearby towns and experience the wrestling matches in person...

GREG VALENTINE and RIC FLAIR

SILENTO RODRIGUEZ and RANDY CURTIS

DARLING DAGMAR and THE KENTUCKIAN TINY ANDERSON

TONI ROSE

JIMMY SNUKA and RICKY STEAMBOAT

FRANK MORRELL and BILLY HINES
(At one time, HINES was one of THE MASKED RED DEMONS.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

FROM CHARLOTTE AND BROOKLYN




Southern wrestling audiences heard many times, during his ring introductions, that GEORGE BECKER was born in Brooklyn, New York. And that was true. He became interested in amateur wrestling, going to the Cooper Athletic Club in the same city. Training long and hard, he excelled in the sport during the Great Depression. During one tournament, BECKER wrestled eight matches in one day, winning the first seven and dropping the eighth to a more experienced competitor.

BECKER's place of employment, an aquarium in New York City, went out of business during the difficult economic times, so the young GEORGE decided to turn professional, making his debut at the Ridgewood Grove Arena in 1934.

In the later years of his long career, George often told the story that he had to laugh when some of the new wrestlers complained that they were not getting paid what they thought they should. "One night in 1938, while I was in Alabama, I wrestled four times in one night and was paid a total of $3.40. And while I was taking a shower after the matches, somebody stole the $3.40 out of my pants."

In 1936, BECKER had one of the most important matches of his young career at the Ridgewood Grove in hometown Brooklyn. His opponent was a highly-touted lad by the name of Lou Thesz, who soon became the World Heavyweight Champion. "I learned a lot about wrestling that night," George told folks.

BECKER was in Philadelphia when World War 2 broke out, so he joined the Coast Guard, but continued to wrestle when he could get any leave time. When the war ended, GEORGE headed to California to wrestle full-time, becoming a big hit in the Golden State. It was out on the west coast where he teamed up with 'brother' BOBBY BECKER, and the two became the tag team champions.

The wrestling matches from California were being filmed and soon were being shown all over the country, including the Carolinas and Virginia, on that new device called television. The demand for the BECKER brothers was so intense that Bill Lewis, then wrestling promoter of Richmond, Virginia, convinced the two to leave California and come to the east coast in 1951, where they began wrestling under the banner of JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS.

They immediately became the top drawing wrestlers in the then twenty-year history of JCP, which was established back around 1932. But tragedy struck in 1954 when BOBBY BECKER (real name John Emmerling) died of leukemia.


GEORGE with 'brother' BOBBY BECKER.



GEORGE with frequent mid-1950's tag partner JACK WITZIG. In 1956, they were the SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS.



GEORGE with DICK STEINBORN. The two often teamed in the late 1950s and early 1960s.



GEORGE in a posed publicity shot - 1951.




They were at their peak, the toast of the wrestling world. BOBBY had been sick for some time, but other than GEORGE and his immediate family, nobody in the business knew anything of his illness. During the middle of November, 1954, GEORGE and BOBBY wrestled a match with HANS SCHNABEL and MRMOTO in Greenville, S.C. The next day, BOBBY went to his Charlotte doctor, who transferred him to a New York hospital. Two days later, he passed away.

BOBBY's final Charlotte match was during the previous month, at Griffith Park, with boxing legend JACK DEMPSEY as special referee.



In the early 1970s, BECKER poses with his son, CRAIG, then two years of age.
During his career as a student at CLEMSON UNIVERSITYCRAIG would be a three-time All-American swimmer. Becker had three other children with his first wife, who died of cancer.



The team of GEORGE BECKER and JOHNNY WEAVER was idolized by the wrestling fans.



Mr. and Mrs. GEORGE BECKER with wrestler VICKI WILLIAMS.
JOYCE BECKER teamed with WILLIAMS when she was JOYCE GRABLE before her marriage to GEORGE.



'Big' JIM CROCKETT (the man who built a wrestling empire) and his top wrestler for twenty years.


GEORGE stopped wrestling for a while after BOBBY died. "It just didn't feel right without him."

After some time, GEORGE returned to the ring. He had found a young college student from Wisconsin named JACK WITZIG, who had turned professional and was doing well as a single. The two teamed up, and during their run as a combo, GEORGE and JACK won the SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP and were recognized as WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS as well. Out of nowhere, WITZIG decided to quit the business and go back to school. He became a dentist.

It was, at this point, that GEORGE began teaming with young DICK STEINBORN, the son of wrestler / promoter MILO STEINBORN. For about two years, the BECKER / STEINBORN team was the top combo in the territory.

BECKER then worked with a number of partners off and on, including SANDY SCOTT (the two were SOUTHERN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS), ENRIQUE TORRES,
BOBBY RED CLOUDARGENTINA ROCCA and BILLY TWO RIVERS. Quite an impressive list.

Another milestone in BECKER's career occurred in 1962. A youngster named JOHNNY WEAVER came to JIM CROCKETT PROMOTIONS (we can thank RIP HAWK for it happening). GEORGE and JOHNNY soon began to work together, and this relationship blossomed into a decade-long run in the MID-ATLANTIC territory. GEORGE and JOHNNY were the top team in the company, hands down. The fans loved them (and that is putting it mildly). Any 'heel' team of the 1960s and early 1970s, to succeed in JCP, had to go through BECKER and WEAVER. The two were the yardsticks for which everyone else was measured.

GEORGE BECKER left CROCKETT PROMOTIONS in 1971, ending an incredible twenty-year run that was never equaled by any other wrestler. He briefly started his own wrestling promotion and then retired.

He passed away at the age of 85 on October 25, 1998, in Florida, where he had lived for the last twenty-five years of his life. Death was due to Alzheimer's Disease, which he had suffered from its effects for seven years.

Mike Mooneyham had this to say at the time of BECKER's passing, "No wrestler in the pre-Flair era was more popular in the Carolinas than GEORGE BECKER. He was a wrestling icon before the word became commonplace and overused."