This interview was conducted by Crimson Mask in September 2004.
Every wrestling fan of a certain age in Georgia and Florida remembers the era when Buddy Colt was the top heel in the territory, but what
we didn’t realize at the time was that he was simultaneously the top heel in both territories. Come along for the ride as Buddy tells us
about the road he traveled from being a skinny kid in Maryland, watching wrestling on TV and dreaming of flying his own plane, through
becoming one of the top stars in wrestling, a potential future NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion and part owner of the Georgia and
Florida promotions, to the plane crash and subsequent medical complications that ended his active career and very nearly took his life.
The soft-spoken voice and the keen, incisive intelligence are the same as we all remember, and some of Buddy’s insights and straight-
from-the-shoulder opinions are sure to generate at least a bit of controversy… and in fact already have rekindled an old feud---just wait till
you see what happens at the end…
Now, you‘re legitimately a native of Maryland, is that correct?
Now were you a wrestling fan as a kid, or before you got in the business?
No, I wasn‘t a wrestling fan, I… I think I went to the matches one time before I got in the business. I was more of a TV wrestling fan.
What was the promotion, and who were some of the guys you would watch on TV?
Living in Maryland, and then I would have been watching… well, Johnny Valentine… Bob Orton… Buddy Rogers…
So the New York territory, in the late ‘50s.
What was your background, athletically, that ended up leading you in this direction? Did you wrestle amateur… ?
No. When I left high school, I joined the Marine Corps, and the closest I came to wrestling, amateur, while I was stationed in Iwakuni,
Japan. They had a Judo instructor coming on the base from Special Services, and I did take Judo instruction for about a year and a half.
So that’s as close as I came to---…
Did you compete in sport Judo, or was it just for combat?
I did some off-the-base tournaments.
Did you go through the belt tests, and all that stuff?
No. I never got past white belt. That would have been in like 1955, 1956.
And when did you get out of the Marines?
January 13th, 1957.
So the Marine part of the gimmick was legitimate.
Oh, yes. I was a real Marine Sergeant.
Okay, were you a drill instructor? I remember that was part of, that was one thing they said.
Very briefly. That wasn’t my long-term MOS (Military Occupation Specialty).
What was your MOS?
Which is part of what led you into flying… ?
Somewhat. I’d always wanted to be a pilot, I used to lay in the yard when I was a kid, looking at the airplanes in the sky, and just kinda
daydreaming of how great it would be to fly an airplane and to have my own airplane…
So that was the early dream…
That was the dream, yes.
… it wasn’t being a wrestler, it was being a flier.
Well… both. When I was a kid watching, I was a little skinny kid, so I’d look at the wrestlers on TV and I would fantasize about being a
professional wrestler, but think ‘well, I’m too little and too skinny and I’d never be big enough’ and so I … kinda let that fall by the wayside,
then while I was in Japan taking Judo lessons and when I started weightlifting I started bulking up somewhat, then it seemed like, well,
that could be more, you know, more of a reality than I really realized.
And when you were the little skinny kid watching, were the guys you mentioned the guys you made the strongest identification with,
Johnny and Buddy and Bob Orton?
Probably… Buddy Rogers. I remember watching him on television, and he came strutting in, and he seemed a great ring presence, and
his style, and very, you know, very charismatic. And then, of course, I’m sure we’ll get to that later, but I had several matches with him.
Right, and we will, and actually both of the other guys you mentioned, you ended up wrestling I think both against, and with as
Yes. Bob Orton Sr., I still talk to him every week on the telephone. He calls me every Saturday.
And when did you start flying your own plane?
I started flying at first in 1957, about February. I was working at Capitol Airlines---which is now Reagan International Airport---as a
mechanic, and one of the other mechanics there had a little flight service and he had this airplane, a Piper Cub J-3 and I started taking
lessons on that. Wood propeller, you had to crank it by hand, no brakes, canvas-covered body. I stayed there about three months and that’
s when I stopped flying, and I didn’t pick it up again until Atlanta, when I bought into the territory.
Okay, and we‘ll get back to that when we get to that point. So you started lifting in the Marines, and that led, I understand, into your
concentrating somewhat on bodybuilding after you got out?
Well, after I got out of the Marine Corps I was doing a lot of bodybuilding, and I was working out at Vic Tanny’s Gym in Washington, D.C.,
which was right down the street from where the Vince McMahon wrestling promotion was, which was, at the time, was on I Street in
Washington. And at the time I met Johnny Valentine at the gym, and I met Dick Steinborn, at Vic Tanny’s Gym. And later on, of course, I
Did they immediately encourage you to try wrestling?
No. At the time I was working for a car dealership in Washington, DC, Logan Ford, I was selling new cars, I was a new car salesman. And
Johnny Valentine was always kind of aloof, and he was then, but you know, I was pretty well-built at the time, I was getting in physique
contests around there, and so I looked pretty good, but neither of them ‘encouraged’ me to get into wrestling, no. And then when I met
Dick Steinborn, it was one day at the gym that I had cricks in my neck and everything, and, you know, “Let me adjust your neck,” and so I
think that the first time I got an adjustment from a wrestler was from Dick Steinborn, who adjusted my neck in Vic Tanny’s Gym in
downtown Washington, D.C.
But neither of them really recruited you at that point.
Dickie was a very pleasant person. Johnny was, uh… was Johnny. He was very friendly because I was in there working out and I was a
pretty pumped-up guy at the time, but neither of them encouraged me to get into wrestling.
Okay, you know, since you mentioned this, let me explore this a little bit now, about how Johnny was---… were you ever witness to
any of his legendary, or not so legendary, escapades?
Not so much so. I heard more about them than what I was actually witness to. I never really traveled with Johnny.
Did you actually place second in the 1960 Mr. Washington, DC contest?
Yeah. I should have won the trophy that year. And the guy who beat me was a guy from Canada, that had just won Mr. Canada and he had
no business being there, in Washington. So I think, I think it was a fraud. If I was a Canadian I’d have taken first place.
(laughs) So he was a ringer.
Oh yeah, he was a ringer. He came down from Canada. I think he traveled around the country, doing that.
Okay, now, you subsequently moved to Houston, correct?
Did that eventually play at all into the “ ‘Cowboy’ Ron Reed” gimmick?
It played everything into it. I had moved to Houston, Texas, and I started working out at the YMCA. And they needed an instructor so in
return for me being a weightlifting and bodybuilding instructor they gave me free membership in the YMCA. And some of the wrestlers
would come in there to work out, and that’s where I met Joe Mercer, who had wrestled as, um… (pause) … Otto… Von… Krupp, out in
Okay, now, that was my next question, because he’s ID'd on your website as the guy who was ‘Killer Karl Krupp‘…
… he may have later been, but, at that time, he was not Killer Karl Krupp…
… well, that’s the thing, because from what I know the guy I know as Killer Karl Krupp was a guy by the real name of George
Momberg, and if I‘m not mistaken Otto Von Krupp was Boris---Larry Simon---Malenko… are you sure it was the same guy?
You know, this guy that trained me, Joe Mercer, he had worked in Tennessee as Joe Pizzatola. So what his real name was, I really don’t
know. And that he had just recently come back from Oregon, where he had worked as Otto Von Krupp, or maybe Karl Von Krupp, and he
had a partner that he trained and broke in the business, that he took out to Oregon with him---
Okay, do you remember who that guy was?
No… no… but in Houston, Texas, he, the guy I knew as Joe Mercer, drove a wrecker truck, that’s what I was doing when I met him. He had
bought his own wrecker truck, and then Nick Kozak eventually kinda got into that wrecker truck business along with him. This was the
beginning of 1960. So many times when people have different names, I don’t even ask for their real name, just because it really doesn’t
matter. Also, at that time, I was dating this girl Lola Warren, that had just gotten divorced from Billy White Wolfe---you know, Sheik Adnan
… I was introduced to her at a party, and she noticed how well-built I was, and she said, “Do you know Billy White Wolfe?”
I said, “No,” and she told me that he was a professional wrestler, and I told her that I was training to become a professional wrestler, and
one thing led to another, and we dated for the rest of the time I was there in Houston.
But in any case, Joe Mercer was the guy who trained you for the business.
Well, when I first met him there, in the YMCA in Houston, and we got to talkin’ a little bit, he says, “You know, you’d make a hell of a
And I said, ‘What’s a ‘babyface‘?” You know, kind of an insult.
He said, “Well, in wrestling, you have the good guys and the bad guys, and the good guys are the babyfaces,” and he says, “and you’d
really be good at it.”
I said, “Well, what do I have to do to get into it?” So he asked me if I was married and I said, “No.” He said he would train me for four
hundred bucks. I said, “Well, that could be arranged,” and I asked how long it would take me to get into the wrestling business.
And he said, “I’ll have you into a territory in less than six months.” So he trained me there at the YMCA, on the amateur wrestling mats. I
think I was in a ring one time prior to starting in the Nashville territory with Nick Gulas.
Did the training start out with shooting and move on to working, or was it just working right away?
No, he smartened me up right away, ‘cause I was experienced and I was lookin’ ten times better than he did, I think he might have been
afraid I’d kick his ass.
Before we had the first training session he smartened me up. He grabbed me by the wrist and said, “Feel that?”
I said, “Just barely.”
He said, “Well, if you become a great worker in the wrestling business, you shouldn’t feel any more than that,” and he said, “you’ve gotta
protect your opponent.”
Very different from the stories that, like, the guys who broke in with Verne (Gagne), and Hiro (Matsuda)…
Yeah. Actually---really I kinda broke in I guess the easy way ‘cause… he wasn’t really a shooter himself, and when I was starting he and I
were talking and he asked me if I had ever wrestled and I told him no, that I’d just had a year and a half of Judo when I was in Japan, and I
guess he didn’t want to get involved in any kind of a shoot.
Yeah. It’s just funny the things that you’ll hear from like Ole (Anderson), and Ricky Steamboat, you know, up with Verne, and they didn’
t get smartened up till right before their first match…
Yeah. I’ve read stories like that…
… and you wonder how.
It’s hard to believe. How do you train for professional wrestling if you’re not smart to the business?
… Or… okay. This is a hell of a thing: Penny Banner just wrote a book now, and she’s posting on the wrestling message boards to
plug it and all that, and she is swearing up down and sideways that not only were all her matches shoots, that all the girls’ matches
were shoots, and that she didn’t even know the men’s matches were works till she read Ole’s book.
That’s complete absolute horseshit. I dated probably a dozen girl wrestlers and ninety-nine-point-nine percent of ‘em didn’t know a
wristlock from a wristwatch.
It’s just amazing, though, the, the… I mean, she’s so adamant about it, it’s not real easy to tell if she’s kayfabing or if she really
Ten years ago I would have kayfabed you, you know…
… Scott Teal, I was pissed off that he was smart to the business, I treated him like he was a kayfabe, and everybody else. It got to the
point where, you know, watching Vince McMahon, and everybody else, pretty much expose it on TV, it got to the point where I said, “Well,
why make myself look foolish.”
Yeah, I understand. How do you feel about all that, anyway? I mean, the change, and the current product, and all that stuff?
It’s an embarrassment.
Okay. Do you watch it at all?
Well, very very rare. Sometimes I turn it on, and I, I enjoy the, the… some of the matches, the action in the matches, and the athleticism of
some of the athletes, but then it gets into some of these horseshit interviews that Vince McMahon is doing and so forth, and people that
have nothing to do with the wrestling, or they’re having t-back contests and all… I turn it off, I just change the channel. Some of them are
great athletes and I appreciate them and give them a lot of respect, but the antics put on by Vince McMahon are just… too much.
Now you mention interviews, and that was one of the things about you, now I didn‘t see you very much as Ron Reed, but when you
came to Florida as Buddy Colt, one of the immediately impressive to me things was your interview style, because it was so
completely non-bombastic, and soft-spoken, as you are, but just completely convincing, and when you very quietly said, “Tim Woods,
I’m going to break your legs,”, I was watching, I went ’holy shit, he’s gonna do it‘.
It was the arrogant attitude, without screaming, that’s the way I always was. Now everybody has to try to, every interview they try to scream
ten octaves above the last interview, and… it’s---they’re not believable.
Do you… I mean, you look at it, do you go ‘this is what I used to do, it’s just changed’, or do you just think ‘this is not the same thing
that Jack (Brisco), and Dory (Funk Jr.), and Tim (Woods), and Bill Watts and I did’?
Well, it’s not the same thing, and there was no reason for it to change like this, the way it has. There’s a lot of great wrestlers out there
now, like Kurt Angle, a Gold Medal winner, but it’s just the antics that Vince McMahon has come up with and the freak stuff he puts on
there. I don’t mean to disrespect any of the wrestlers, there are a lot of great guys. It’s just what Vince McMahon has done to it, is he’s
made it a sideshow. And that’s what I think is screwed up. I mean, Lou Thesz, he had told me he wouldn’t even watch that bullshit on TV,
Yeah, he told me the same thing. He said that he’d just, sometimes he’d turn it on, and he’d just stare at it for a couple of minutes,
and then just turn it off more in bewilderment, than anything else. Okay, so, lessee, zigzaggin’ back to where we were, you’re going
through the training with Joe Mercer, and you broke in with Gulas.
Now the stories about Gulas abound… was he as penny-pinching with you as---
Oh, even worse. Well, Joe Mercer, he had told me that, he said, “Well, you know, a good place to get started would be Nashville,
Tennessee.” I sent some pictures of myself out to several promoters, I heard back from all of them right away, trying to book me, and Joe
told me, he said, “Start with Gulas,” he said, ‘you’ll probably make fifty bucks a night there, to start out.” So I went to Tennessee and that’s
where I had my first pro match. I had been inside the real ring with ropes one time prior to that. And, God, I was, I stunk as a worker,
‘cause… Joe taught me the moves, but not how to work, there’s a big difference. To learn how to work you have to be in the ring, night
after night. And my first match was in Bowling Green, Kentucky, June of 1962, and my partner was Jim Boggs, who was a fireman---he
worked part-time---against Don and Al Greene. And the payoff that night was ten bucks, you know. They go into this place, and it was a
elementary school gymnasium, and they had the chairs set up along the side. And I remember the (local) promoter’s name, it was Hot
Gilliam, a little, short scrawny guy. And there must have been fifty people there, ‘cause I was thinkin’ ‘God, how the hell are we gonna
make fifty bucks? There‘s only fifty people here‘. And there were six of us on the card, and with six of us we always put on a two-hour
show. And, the---
And that would be… what? Like three singles and then a six-man tag, or…
No, it would be whoever was in the tag match, they usually had four-man tag matches, would go out and work two single matches, what
they call ‘warm-up matches‘, and then the other two people would go in a two-out-of-three falls match with a 45-minute time limit, and
then the ones from the first two matches in a two-out-of-three falls tag, with a one-hour time limit. I’ve done the same thing in towns where
only the four of us, where the four of us would be two single matches, come back in a tag match and then all four come back in a Battle
Royal, where four of us would put on a two-hour show. But that‘s where you learn how to work.
Yeah, Jack told the story in his book about working for Gulas, and the payoffs would be ten-twelve bucks, and he finally went into
Gulas’ office and said, ‘Look, I’m leaving, I can’t afford this any more,” and Gulas threw a roll of hundreds on the table and said,
“Stick around awhile.”
Well, when I was there, in two months, I got myself booked into Alabama with Lee Fields. And I went down there and stayed down there
about a month and a half, and when I gave Gulas my notice, he said, “Come back here, kid, I’ll make you some money when you get
back,” so I went back there, and was still making $15 payoffs.
Was it better with Lee?
No. I was still very green. And with Lee, not too many babyfaces fared well, especially when you looked as good as I did then, because the
Fields brothers looked very… very bad. And I stayed in Nashville about another two months, and then I gave my notice again and went to
Georgia, and Freddie Blassie was booking there at the time.
And this would have been in… late ‘62.
Late ‘62, yes.
And (Don) McIntyre had the towns in north Georgia, and Fred Ward had the towns in the south?
Yes. Well, they were all connected together at the time, this would have been before they had their big split. Ward had Augusta, Macon,
and Columbus, Georgia…
Was Little Eagle doing any booking at the time?
No. He was workin’ the territory, but he was not booking.
I got some matches here with you wrestling Lenny Montana, ‘Luca Brasi‘, and…
Lenny Montana was an asshole.
Just his attitude, arrogant, about like somehow he felt he was over and above a lot of guys. One time he started to get stiff with me in the
ring and I got twice as stiff back and ‘hey, loosen up kid, it’s a work’. And after that he was okay.
Okay, I see, one of those kinda guys. Now I also see some matches with the Russian Crusher, was that Tony Angelo?
It sounds like it. He was a bald guy.
Okay, then probably, he came down to Florida and did the same gimmick teaming with (the Great) Malenko around that time. So was
this about when you got the call from Vince McMahon?
No. After about five weeks there, I called Nick Gulas, and again, he told me the same thing, “Well, if you come back here, this time I’ll
make you a lot of money,” so I went back to Nashville for the third time, and it was the same thing all over again. But during that time I had
sent pictures all over the country, Joe Mercer got me promoters’ addresses, and I had sent pictures and a letter introducing myself to
them, and they had all responded, so then I called Vince and talked to him and he gave me a starting date, and so I told Nick Gulas that I
was leaving and that I was going to Washington, DC, and that I was starting there the next Thursday, and he said, “Well, when you finish
there come back here and we’ll make some money.“
And I said, “Nick, I’m never coming back here again the rest of my life.“ And now this begins quite a story, because he was all pissed off
because I had pretty much told him I was never coming back there.
So a few days later, I go into the office to get my, I had two nights pay coming so that was thirty bucks, and I needed it for gas to get to
Washington, and the girl he had in the outer office told me, “Nick still has your money.”
And I said, “Well, tell him I’m out here.“
So she called him on the phone, “Cowboy Ron Reed is here to get his money,” and I hear, “Tell that prick to get out of here, he’s not
getting a fucking dime.”
So I walked in and walked up to his desk and he says, “Get out of here, you’re not getting your damn money, we don’t need your smartass
shit around here.”
So I stood there, I said, “Nick, I need the money for gas to get out of this damn territory.“
And he said, “Get your ass out of here.“
About that time, it was Pretty Boy Calhoun or Pretty Boy Floyd that later became Luke Graham, he was leaving to go to join up to team up
with Dr. Jerry Graham in Phoenix, so Nick---no. Something happened before that: Nick pulled a gun, a .38-caliber revolver, out of his desk
and he pointed it at me and said, “Get the fuck out of here, or I’ll blow your head off.”
I said, “Well, you might as well shoot me, because I’m not going.” And then the phone rang, some promoter, and I told Nick, “Give me my
He said, “Hey, I’m talking to somebody, shut up.”
And I said, “After I get my money.”
And about that time Luke Graham---of course this was before he was Luke Graham, Pretty Boy Floyd, or Pretty Boy Calhoun, and Nick
turns to him and says, ”Hey, help me, throw this guy out of here.”
Luke goes, “Throw him out yourself.” (laughter) He was leaving, too.
So Nick finally, he pulls out the money from his desk drawer and slams it on top of his desk, it was two envelopes, I went over and picked
it up, two nights‘ pay, thirty bucks, so I left there. And then later when I got up to Washington, DC, I told Vince McMahon what had
happened, and he asked me, “Well, why didn’t you beat his ass when you had the chance when he put the gun down?”
“Well, I was afraid I might get blackballed.”
And he said, “No, nobody likes Nick Gulas anyway.”
But anyway, he actually pulled and was holding a gun on me with Luke Graham standing there watching.
Yeah, that fits...
And then, it was, oh, about two or three years later, when I was in Omaha, Nebraska, I had dropped the ‘Cowboy’ and was just Ron Reed,
and I got a phone call, “This is your Uncle Nick.”
“Nick. Gulas. Why don’t we let bygones be bygones, and you come back, and I’ll really make you some money.”
I said, “I’m doing okay where I‘m at.”
And then when I saw him again was after the big wrestling war in Georgia, I had bought into the territory there, they had a wrestling
convention for wrestling promoters, and now I was one too, and Nick was sitting across the table from me, like we were sitting there
promoter-to-promoter, at this point. So the last time I saw him was at a meeting, and he must have felt kinda… kinda strange, having
pulled a gun on me.
Yeah, I imagine so… so, finally, you get your thirty bucks, put gas in the car, and get to DC?
Well, then I stopped and worked in Kingsport, Tennessee. It was a $25 payoff, and it was a 300-mile trip from Nashville, but it was on my
way to Washington. And I stopped and told Mickey Barnes, who was running the town, what had happened with Gulas and he said, “Well,
I haven’t heard anything about it, so come on and work.” So I worked the house show that Wednesday night in Kingsport, Tennessee,
hopped in the car, and started the next night, Thursday, on TV in Washington.
Now when you started in the business it was right away as Cowboy Ron Reed?
And with all the promo mail coming out of Houston…
So when you finally did get to DC, we’re in, what, December ‘62, January ‘63?
Uh… January ’63. I started the same night as Tim Woods and Pat Barrett.
Was that where you first met Tim?
You guys would be such a total factor in each other’s careers. Today I re-watched your tape, and the matches with Tim were just,
those were just gold.
Yeah, I had a lot of matches with Tim. And I’ve been in easier street fights, but... I had a lot of great matches with Tim. Quite a guy. Class
I never have, but did you ever read Pat Barrett’s book?
No, I haven’t.
Really kinda curious to read it. Understand he tells a lotta the stories that actually happen, just kayfabes the names.
I would also. Pat’s a very smart guy, very quick-witted with words.
So here’s you, Pat, Tim, and I also notice here, another young babyface, you had several matches with Pedro Morales in that stretch.
Well, I was still a babyface, and I had quite a few matches with Pedro.
There were a lot of babyface vs. babyface matches, weren’t there?
That’s… you know, even now, I think that babyface vs.---well, now they’re kind of generic, but there was quite a few babyface matches, that’
s always a good match to put on the underneath card, because at the time I was working underneath as was Pat Barrett and Tim Woods,
and they would always put at least one or two babyface matches on there.
Now would one guy heel a little bit, or were they basically straight clean matches?
And now at this point, you get a few matches with Buddy Rogers.
Yeah. I had been there about three months, and they had put me over every time on TV, and in most of the house matches. You know, just
as a good strong underneath card. And so on Washington TV, I’ve seen I’m working with Buddy Rogers. I was kinda nervous, that he was
the NWA champion at the time. So he comes over and he’s talkin’ to me and he says, “Just, well, you know, kid, just one thing: relax, don’t
We get in the ring and we pretty much work the headlock routine, and Buddy had me lookin’ like the world’s champion. And the match
went about fifteen minutes before he finally beat me. Come back to the dressing room and I said, “God, really, thank you for that match.“ I
said, “You made me look better than I’ve ever looked.”
And he looks at me and says, “Well, kid, the way I look at it, you’re kinda new in the business, and if I can make you look like you damn
near beat me, if I win by a fluke, they’re gonna think when I wrestle Bruno Sammartino that he’s gonna kill me---and that’s how you draw
money.” And that was a philosophy that I always used. You always have to make your opponent, you never guzzle them. The only time I
ever guzzled somebody was if he was a complete absolute jabroni that I felt had no business in the ring.
I see you and Tim not only wrestled each other a few times, you also teamed back then…
We teamed a lot.
… and I see you wrestled the Kangaroos.
Yes. We wrestled the Kangaroos in a semi-final at Madison Square Garden. A great team. They had Wild Red Berry as their manager. Al
Costello and Roy Heffernan.
And I see you in with Kowalski, in that...
Yeah. I worked a semi-final in Madison Square Garden against Killer Kowalski, also.
So you were, at this point, still pretty green, but you were getting in with the top teams, some of the top singles in the business.
They didn’t use me as a total underneath card, they used me very good. Not main event, but the next thing to it. I had less than a year in
And you would be not generally doing total squash jobs, even to the top guys.
No. You know, one thing about the business… when I was still going back to Tennessee, I was living in a little motel on Binghamton
Road, about $25 a week. In the morning I’d leave with my gym bag going to the gym, and the old-timers’d be laying around the pool and
say, “Where you going, kid?”
“I’m going to work out.”
They’d say, “Yeeaah, tonight you’re gonna work Jonesboro for less than seventeen dollars.”
So less than a year later, I’m in Madison Square Garden and they’re still working seventeen-dollar towns. So you get out of it what you put
Yup. Now I see one of your last matches in the territory, you losing to Tim by a DQ. Was that any kind of heel turn on your way out?
Yup, it was. Somewhat, ‘cause they wanted me to put Tim over in the middle of the ring and I refused. I told ‘em I’d get disqualified.
Now I see on your way out you did some fairly short jobs for Gorilla Monsoon.
And this was when they were just bringing him in as the big monster heel?
Hans Mortier, yeah.
… now him I remember as a hell of a worker…
Great worker, yeah. Terrific physique on him.
His grandson recently got in touch with me---said that Hans, well Jacob, Hans’ real name, he’s 80 now, had been having some
medical problems but was now doing really well, and that he is amazed that people still talk about him.
Where is he living?
Back in Holland.
You know, he was amazing. European, he could speak about half a dozen languages fluently, and speaking English he had no accent.
He was a great worker and a great, great ring presence. He’s just a great, intelligent man.
Okay, now here’s something somebody posted in the Guestbook at your website, said they remembered you doing a TV skit with
Skull Murphy and some other boys on the Jackie Gleason show?
At this time Toots Mondt was in the promotion with Vince McMahon. What was the division of labor there?
The running of the promotion was Vince McMahon. I was up there for a year and I think I saw Toots Mondt two or three times.
So he was pretty much just the hookup to New York and MSG?
I believe so, yes.
This was also the time of the whole dropping out of the NWA and the start of the WWWF and the new title.
Buddy Rogers had dropped the NWA title to Lou Thesz in Toronto. Vince McMahon wanted his own champion and the NWA champion
had to fulfill dates for all the other promoters, so they didn’t tell anybody that Rogers had lost the title to Thesz and they started this new
title with Rogers, and then he dropped it to Bruno Sammartino in under a minute. Rogers came out with the old US title belt as the world’s
title and it was just run out of the corner, pickup, bear hugged him and that was that---…
Were you on the card?
No, but I was there. So basically Sammartino was given the title, and I never looked at it as the world’s title because he had never beaten
the world’s champion. Rogers after that was running some towns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for Vince McMahon, and he was using
me and Pedro Morales a lot as his babyfaces, but he never worked on the cards himself, and it was said that he had a heart condition
and wasn’t supposed to work, and that he had started having heart trouble even as far back as the match with Lou Thesz where he lost
That was the next thing I was going to ask---you were around Rogers a lot at that time, do you think it’s credible that he had a heart
condition? Tim Woods said he didn’t believe it.
No. But with a heart condition---ten years ago, I had major heart trouble, and I had an angioplasty and they put the stints in, and now you
wouldn’t know. It’s like a broken arm, when it’s fixed, it’s fixed. Now I know Buddy Rogers never had open-heart surgery, but he said he
had a heart condition and that he wasn’t supposed to work---
Wait---it was Buddy who told you this?
Yes. I spent a lot of time with Buddy when he was running those towns. I can remember, at that time, being out to his house in New
Jersey several times, and his wife and his child at the time were I think multi-racial, and he said he wasn’t supposed to work.
Did you ever hear anything about him being supposed to get the title back?
No. Well, he was the only one who said that. They were drawing such good houses with Bruno. Buddy told me he was supposed to be
getting the title back, but it still would have only been the New York title.
I remember one night in Philadelphia when Buddy was running the town, he came up to me and said, “Well, that’s it. I’ll never work
again.” I thought he was kidding, but he said, “No, I’m never working again.” He had just had some kind of big blow-up on the phone with
Vince McMahon, and…
Did he say what it was about?
No, just that they had had this big blow-up, and very soon after that Buddy was gone from the territory, and that was when they asked me
to do the job on TV for Tim Woods and I refused. It was very political. They had never had me do a job on TV except to the very top guys,
like Rogers, or Gorilla Monsoon when they were bringing him up, but I was seen as one of Rogers’ boys.
Who else were seen as Rogers’ boys? Pedro… ?
Well, and Buddy Killer Austin, Rogers liked to use him as his top heel. He liked to use Bobo Brazil, but he couldn’t always get dates on