Rocket, letâ€™s start off with when and where you were born.
Memphis, Tennessee in 1941.
Did you grow up there?
Oh, yeah. I lived in the Memphis area all the way through school.
I understand you were a star football player in high school, and were offered a scholarship to Memphis State University.
Thatâ€™s right. I blew out my knee in my senior year, though. So they cut the scholarship in half.
Did you still go to college?
So what did you do after graduating high school?
I just went to work. I worked a bunch of places â€“ just a bunch of different types of jobs to make money.
Wasnâ€™t your first break in the wrestling business working for Jim Holly?
Yeah, I went to work with him and won the Arkansas State Title.
Who trained you?
I had a friend who was a wrestler â€“ Johnny Alexander. He convinced me to start working out with those guys. I spent a week getting
beat up by him and Billy Wicks. They worked me like a yard dog because they wanted to see how tough I was. It was rough, but after
awhile they loosened up on me.
You worked as Rocky Montez then, right?
Other than Montez and Rocket Monroe, did you ever work under any other names?
What exactly led to you becoming Rocket Monroe?
There was already a guy who worked with that name â€“ Bill Fletcher. He had started working with Sputnik, but they werenâ€™t working
together anymore. I went to work in Mobile and Rocky McGuire gave me that name, and it stuck for the rest of my career.
Sputnik wasnâ€™t in Mobile at that time, though, right?
No, he was in Florida, and he called and told Rocky he wanted me to come down and start working down there with him. So I went and
we became the World Tag Team Champions down there. We were managed by Saul Weingeroff down there.
Did you like having a manager?
Not him. He thought he was better than everybody.
What was Sputnik like as a partner?
He was a great worker, and a good guy when he was sober. When he was drinking it was a different story. I got tired of being around
him because he got to where he was always drinking, so I left and went out on my own. It also made me mad that Saul would sit around
and do nothing and draw the same money I was getting for working my butt off. I had made enough of a name for myself by then that I
knew I could do it without them. It wasnâ€™t too long before I started working with Gene Dundee â€“ he was Flash Monroe.
Right. What was it like to work with him?
Oh, man â€“ he was great. We worked together for about eleven years and never had a problem.
You won the Gulf Coast Heavyweight Title from Mario Galento in 1968. Did you enjoy working with Mario?
Mario was a guy who was from a different world. He was good.
During that run in Gulf Coast, you had Dr. Ken Ramey as a manager. Iâ€™ve never heard anything negative about him. What did you
think of him?
Oh, he was a super nice guy. I was real good friends with him.
You and Flash won the Gulf Coast Tag Team Title five times around 1968 and 1969, and had a long program at that time with Ken and
Chris Lucas. Did you enjoy working with them?
Ken was a better worker than Chris, but yeah, we had a good time in the ring with them all over the territory.
You first came into Georgia in 1968 with Flash for a one-shot appearance against Roberto and Cyclone Soto. In the summer of 1970,
you came in and worked with Rip Tyler.
It was great, man â€“ Rip was super. I trained Rip in Memphis. Weâ€™d take a mattress of the bed and put it in the carport. (Laughs)
Thatâ€™s what we took bumps on. I didnâ€™t work out but a few times with Rip. We wrestled one another for his first match and he
never looked back. We got to be great friends. We were real close. Rip had an outstanding career.
After that summer, I guess you headed right back to Mobile, right?
Yeah, Iâ€™d always go out for awhile then go back to Mobile.
You wanted to stay fresh.
I think that was when I came back and I was the only wrestler that was drawing. I had Ken Lucas and Arman Hussein to work with. Iâ
€™d go with one all over the territory and then the other all over the territory. Norvell Austin called wanting to come in. He had teamed
with Sputnik down in Florida and here in Georgia. And some of the TV was overlapping so the fans knew it.
They called me in the office and asked me what I thought and I told them it was a dream come true. I told them to bring him in and put
the streak back in his hair. So I got on TV and told everybody that Sputnik and I had adopted him and raised him â€“ you talk about heat.
(Laughs) We went all over the territory building up a thing between him and Arman Hussein, then we put the two of them working single
They packed every house we went to. Then we went back into teaming together, and for some reason â€“ he never said nothing â€“ he
just walked out one night. I havenâ€™t seen him since then.
I was asked to ask you about a riot that broke out in a match between you and Karl Krauser in 1970 in Mobile. Do you remember
It was his son who asked.
Oh, really? Well, Iâ€™ll be doggone. I sure do remember it. It was a rough one. We had one in Mobile in the armory every time we
wrestled there â€“ it didnâ€™t matter who was my partner. Me and Rip Tyler wrestled Bobby Fields and Joe Scarpa there one night, and
me and Rip won and we had to fight for our lives to get back to the dressing room. All these scars and knots you see on my head â€“
theyâ€™re for real. (Laughs)
When you and Flash came back to Georgia in 1971, you worked a heel versus heel angle against the Assassins, Jody Hamilton and
That was a dream.
I imagine you packed the houses all over the state on that run.
We sold out everywhere. We beat them probably as many times as they beat us.
Who got the fan support?
We did. I donâ€™t know if it was the masks or what, but weâ€™d go into the same towns the next week against some clean guys, and
youâ€™d think we were the worst guys in the world. We wrestled Jody and Tom one night in Griffin and there was this little guy sitting
there. He had one tooth in his mouth. (Laughs) He cussed me like you wouldnâ€™t believe.
Well, me and Flash beat Tom and Jody that night, and he got the police to bring him back to the dressing room. He shook my hand and
said, â€œRocket, Iâ€™m so glad you beat those boys that Iâ€™ll never cuss you again.â€� His name was Gene.
The next week we were back down in Griffin and there he was cussing me. (Laughs) I left the ring and said, â€œlast week you told me
youâ€™d never cuss me again.â€� He said, â€œthatâ€™s right, Rocket, and Iâ€™m not.â€� I didnâ€™t get in the ring good and he
was cussing me again. (Laughs)
Tell me about the woman in Pensacola with the liquor bottle.
Oh, yeah. She was a big woman. She had always wanted to take a shot at me, so one night I told her to go ahead and do it. She had it
in her pocketbook, and told me sheâ€™d been wanting to hit me in the head so many times. I said, â€œhoney, just come on over and
take you a poke.â€� (Laughs) And she did. (Laughs) It hurt, but it didnâ€™t bother me too long.
And I hear she went flying as a result.
Yeah, she landed a couple rows back. (Laughs)
You and Sputnik got back together and teamed here right after Ann Gunkel broke off from the NWA office.
Yeah, after Sputnik got away from Saul, we teamed up for awhile, but it was the same thing again.
Had he changed at all?
No. He was still hitting the juice â€“ probably worse then. It didnâ€™t last very long and I went back to Mobile again. If he couldâ€™ve
kept the juice out of his mouth, thereâ€™s no telling how far we could have gone together. When we had the World Tag Title down in
Florida, Lou Thesz and Sam Steamboat wanted to work with us. Sputnik was probably one of the best performers in and out of the ring
that there ever was, but he let the juice and his mouth ruin him. It got to where no one would book him.
And you guys won the US Tag Team Title together, and then you won it again with Bob Kelly.
Thatâ€™s right. Me and Kelly have been in any kind of match there is except a Scaffold Match. They was going to put us in one of them,
but I wasnâ€™t going for it because I was scared of heights. Iâ€™ll tell you what â€“ I had some of my best matches with Kelly.
We had one in Laurel, Mississippi, where the Chief of Police came in the ring to stop the match. He said it was too brutal. We was
working somewhere else one time and the police came in to stop it because we were bleeding like crazy. I told him I wasnâ€™t
stopping. (Laughs) We kept going. They were trying to hit us with their night sticks and I told them again that I wasnâ€™t stopping, and
then one of them hit me with mace. I said, â€œKelly, letâ€™s stop.â€� (Laughs)
In 1975, you went up to work with Nick Gulas, and teamed with Randy Tyler.
Yeah, but that didnâ€™t get over too well. He asked me to come in and team with him, but it just didnâ€™t click.
You won the Mid-American Tag Team Title with him, but as the Masked Godfathers.
How long did that last?
Not very long. I couldnâ€™t stand being under a mask. I couldnâ€™t breathe and I couldnâ€™t see. It was too much like wearing a
suit. If I wear a suit, Iâ€™ve got to have the tie loose or I canâ€™t breathe. We worked in Mobile one time in a Loser Leaves Match, and I
lost. Well, I came back with a mask on. The first night I came in under the mask in Mobile â€“ the first person I saw was a little seven
year old kid. He said, â€œRocket Monroe, I thought you was supposed to leave town.â€� (Laughs)
I went back in there and told Rocky McGuire to either take the mask off me or I will. He told me that it would get over. I said, â€œno, it
wonâ€™t â€“ the first person I saw was a seven year old boy that told me I was supposed to have left town.â€� (Laughs) I said, â€œwe
ainâ€™t fooling nobody.â€� (Laughs)
You made brief appearances in Georgia in 1976, and then again in 1979 and 1980. I guess you were working in Mobile throughout
Yeah, Iâ€™d ease into Tennessee for short times, but I always went back to Mobile. I loved Pensacola â€“ thatâ€™s where I lived. It
was beautiful. I didnâ€™t want to burn myself out there, so Iâ€™d leave for a few months and then come back home.
I love that area.
Oh, man, I hated to leave down there. I met a girl from Atlanta while I was here, and we got married and had four kids. Weâ€™ve been
separated for about nine years now, but I decided to make this my home. I love it here.
When did you actually retire from the business?
I actually retired full time about seventeen years ago. I wanted to get out and get me a job and get some retirement and benefits started.
You didnâ€™t have any of that in wrestling. So I got out and went to work with the City of Riverdale as the Public Works Director. I did that
for a while and kept wrestling pretty regular â€“ four or five nights a week. Me and the City Manager didnâ€™t hit it off too well, so I left
and went to work for the county.
When I went to work there I stopped wrestling altogether. Iâ€™ve been there seventeen years, and after two more I can retire. Then if I
donâ€™t want to and the Lordâ€™s willing, I wonâ€™t have to do nothing. Thatâ€™s what I worked towards back then. I didnâ€™t
want to end up like the people who canâ€™t get out of bed or canâ€™t walk. I didnâ€™t want to get too old to get a good job and earn
some retirement, so I got out while I was still in good shape. Iâ€™ve got a little over two years to go and then Iâ€™ll be okay.
So did you regret getting into the business?
No, I sure donâ€™t. In fact, I loved it. I met a lot of folks â€“ a lot of great folks. I made some really good friends. The best friend I got out
of it was Bobby Simmons. I came to Georgia and met Bobby while he was a sophomore in high school, and he kind of took up with me.
He used to come to my house and spend the whole weekend, and weâ€™ve been friends ever since.
I got out of the wrestling business and started umpiring baseball and softball and he got into that, too. When Bobby got out of the
business he came and did some umpiring with me. He ended up getting into the church, and I was going to another one. I wasnâ€™t
happy there so one Sunday I went to Bobbyâ€™s church and have been there ever since.
Iâ€™m going to throw out ten names and I want you to tell me the first thing that you think about when you hear them.
Jim was a super man. He was the one who got me into the wrestling business. The first time I ever wrestled Jim he just about killed
me. He was a fat man and he got me in a headlock, and I had to blow bubbles in the fat just to catch my breath. (Laughs)
Thatâ€™s an answer I was not quite prepared for. (Laughs) Dr. Ken Ramey.
Ramey was a great guy. We got to be good friends and I hope he still thinks of me as a friend.
I tell you what â€“ I loved Nick. I have nothing against Nick whatsoever. He was as good as he could be to me. I heard a lot of bad stuff
about him, but he was as good as he could be. He called me one time after I retired and begged me to come up there and all I had to do
was tell him the guarantee I wanted and we would sign on it, but I had already told my wife I was finished and I didnâ€™t want to go back
on my word. I have nothing against Nick Gulas.
Now, he was a super guy. Iâ€™ll never forget the first time somebody bodyslammed me. It was Buddy. He scared me to death
because he was so tall and I didnâ€™t think I was ever going to hit the floor. (Laughs) It was in Jackson, Mississippi.
And your eyes were probably bugging out because of your fear of heights, I imagine.
I was reaching for anything I could grab onto, but all I was getting was air. (Laughs)
He was okay, but I wasnâ€™t very fond of him at all. I donâ€™t have much of anything nice to say about Saul. In his mind, he was so far
above everybody else.
Rocky was a nice fellow. Me and Rocky wasnâ€™t as close as I was with some other bookers and promoters, but he was a good guy.
Super. Super wrestler. Me and him probably had a hundred thousand matches, and I donâ€™t think we ever had a bad one.
When he was sober, he was like a brother to me. When he was drinking, the devil couldnâ€™t get along with him.
Do you ever speak to him anymore?
I saw him at the reunions in Mobile up until the last couple of years. Of course, heâ€™s in bad shape now and hasnâ€™t made the last
Were there any hard feelings when you guys saw each other there?
No because he was sober. Thereâ€™s no hard feelings between us. It just didnâ€™t work out between us.
I loved Flash. I used to pick at him and rib him and make him mad, but heâ€™d always come back laughing.
Best friend I have in the world. Heâ€™s told me the number one friend heâ€™s had from the wrestling business was me, and Iâ€™ve
told him the same thing.
Rocket, I want to thank you for talking with me about your career.
All the pleasure has been mine.
|Copyright Â© Georgia Wrestling History, Inc.
All rights reserved.
This interview was conducted by Rich Tate in August 2003.
Maury High and I met this past March at the Gulf Coast Wrestling Reunion the night I arrived in town. He sat in the corner of a room that
belonged to he and Bobby Simmons. Throughout the night many wrestlers passed through telling stories and reacquainting themselves
with each other. However, the one man that stood out above the rest and kept my attention most of that night was Rocket. Over the
course of the past six months, he and I have become friends. His stories are endless, outrageously funny â€“ and quite often, some are
true. He is a true gentleman, and I am honored that he took time out to speak with me about his career in one of the most legendary tag
teams to have ever worked in the southeastern United States â€“ the Monroe Brothers.