GCCW #8 Page #2
Gentleman Jim - A sort of preliminary version of Bobby Shane, this blonde toughie worked in the Gulf Coast in 1971. I am not sure if he worked any other areas or under any other names.
Frank Martinez – Frank was a bigger name in Tennessee, where he used many masked gimmicks (he was ½ of the Blue Infernos) and wrestled as "Pretty Boy" Frank Martinez. In the Gulf Coast he was a rough brawler who always made it hard on his opponents. He also spent some time under the mask as one of the Untouchables (w/Karl Von Stroheim). Frank also wrestled in Oklahoma and Florida. Today he is happily retired in Florida.
Blackjack Slade – Another import from Oklahoma, this tough hombre from Tombstone made things rough on opponents in early 1971. Although he wasn’t around long, he wasn’t soon forgotten.
Jackie Welch – A member of the famed Welch-Fields-Fuller-Golden family (son of Lester Welch). Jackie was a very good mat wrestler and could take to the air as well. Very popular in the Gulf Coast in 1970 and 1971, Jackie also wrestled in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. His younger brother Roy Lee was also a wrestler.
Billy Hamilton – This young wrestler was in the Gulf Coast for much of 1971 and 1972. A good scientific mat wrestler, he also wrestled under a mask in the Mississippi end of the promotion as "Tiger" Hamilton.
Frank and Jim Marconi – A father and son team, they spent a brief period in the Gulf Coast in 1972. They also wrestled for promoter Billy Golden’s promotion in Montgomery, Alabama. Frank, the elder Marconi, also wrestled as "Gorilla" Marconi and as the masked "Beast". He passed away in 1997 at the age of 79.
Jimmy Jones and Big Jim Williams – Two more mainstays of Bill Golden’s promotion, these Montgomery natives made a few appearances as a team in the Gulf Coast in 1972. Jones later came back in 1976 under the name "Eric Spearman" and teamed with the hated villain Billy Spears (Bill Spearman).
Rick Renaldo – Rick was in the Gulf Coast area around 1973. He was better known in Portland, Oregon and Northern California. Rumor has it that he went undercover for the FBI to help break up a hate group of some kind.
Leo Sietz – This rough grappler was in the area in 1974 and 1975. He later went to Houston to work for promoter Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling.
Jim Bass – This colorful blonde heel worked in the area in 1974. I am not sure who he was or if he was "related" to any other of the wrestling Bass "family".
Gypsy Joe Rosario – One of the most colorful wrestlers ever in the Gulf Coast. The wild Gypsy had long, frizzy hair and was covered in tattoos and spent a good portion of his time in the ring walking in circles and roaring. Was in and out of the Gulf Coast from 1971 until 1973. Also worked in Oklahoma, Tennessee and various other places as Pancho Rosario or Pancho Valdez.
Black Bart – One of the true mysteries of Gulf Coast wrestling. This is not the same wrestler who wrestled as Black Bart in Oklahoma. This guy wrestled off and on in the Gulf Coast from 1972 until 1974. One of the best prelim guys I ever saw. A tough heel, he never failed to get a crowd worked up and always seemed on the verge of beating his opponents before his tactics backfired on him. I have yet to find out this guys real name or where else he may have worked.
Tony Russo – Probably the best preliminary wrestler of all time. A native of Milan, Italy, Tony worked of and on in the Gulf Coast from 1970 until 1976. Other areas he worked are Tennessee, New York, the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma. Although quite short, the stocky Tony was not easy to beat. He held ½ of the tag belts as one of the masked Los Diablos (w/ Pepe Lopez) and was also the masked Golden Hawk.
They Gulf Coast also had it share a young wrestlers who made they’re start in the area or appeared early in their careers only to go on to bigger and better things:
Johnny West – This popular youngster briefly held the U.S. Tag titles with Ken Lucas in 1971. He went on to find fame and fortune under his real name: Kevin Sullivan. We all know what he has done under that name.
Jerry Oates – Now a legend in the South, this Columbus, Georgia native made several appearances in the Gulf Coast in 1972. Jerry went on to hold the North American title in Oklahoma and he and his brother Ted were the Central States tag team champions. The Oates brothers own a gym and are still active in wrestling in Columbus.
Steve Keirn – This popular wrestler from Florida made a few appearances in the Gulf Coast in 1973. He went on to become a big star in his native Florida, as well as Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas. He and Stan Lane were the Fabulous Ones, one of the better tag teams of the 1980s. In the late 80s, he was "Skinner" in the WWF. Steve is still active wrestling in Tampa, Florida.
Dwayne Peel – Made a few appearances in the Gulf Coast in 1974. Better known to most fans under the name Buddy Wayne. Used that name for a few appearances in the Gulf Coast. Was a major star in Tennessee and for Bill Golden’s promotion. His son, Ken Wayne also became a top star in the 1980s.
Big Mac – Not the hamburger, but a big beefy wrestler. Made a few appearances in the Gulf Coast in 1973. His real name was Doug McMichen, but he was better known in places like Florida as "Tank Patton". He passed away in 1998 at the age of 52.
Don Kernodle – Don spent a couple of months in the Gulf Coast in 1973. He went on to become very successful in the Carolinas, holding the NWA World’s tag team title several times with various partners.
Gene Lewis – Worked mainly in prelims as a single, but did do some mid-card work as the tag team partner of Bruiser Bob Sweetan in 1975. Real name is Gene Petit, he started in Florida as the "younger brother" of the famed Dale Lewis. Later was Molokai in Kevin Sullivan’s Army of Darkness, also in Florida. Best known as Hillbilly Jim’s "Cousin Luke" in the WWF in the mid 1980s. Still active in independents as Cousin Luke.
Ron Starr – Ron first came into the Gulf Coast under a mask as "Mr. Wrestling" in 1975. After a couple of weeks, he unmasked and wrestled under his own name. Later as "Rotten" Ron Starr, he wrestled in California, Louisiana and Georgia. Ron also held the NWA World’s Jr. Heavyweight title in the late 1970s.
Bill Ash – This young man was always very tough in the ring. He came into the Gulf Coast from his native Paris, Arkansas in 1975. Bill later did very well in Tennessee and was the U.S. Jr. Heavyweight champion for Ron Fuller’s Southeastern promotion in the early 1980s. Bill also owns and operates B-Bar-A Boot shop, which makes professional wrestling boots.
Sylvester DeRitter – This huge man came to the Gulf Coast in 1977, touted as a former Green Bay Packer (he had been cut after trying out as a walk on). DeRitter, real name Sylvester Ritter, later became probably the biggest star to have ever been a Gulf Coast alumni. He went on to worldwide fame as the Junkyard Dog. He was killed in a car accident in June of 1998. He was 45 years old.
Ricky and Reuben Gibson – Ricky started out as a referee in the Gulf Coast in 1972 and by the end of the year was taken under the wing of Cowboy Bob Kelly who readied him for his pro career. A native of Pensacola, Florida, Ricky was soon headlining cards in his hometown as he teamed with Kelly in a feud with Gorgeous George Jr. and the Spoiler. Ricky also had a major feud with Billy Spears that spread from the Gulf Coast to Florida to Georgia. Ricky also was a big star in Tennessee where he received a shot at the NWA World’s Heavyweight championship then held by Harley Race. Tragically, Ricky’s career was shortened by an automobile accident in the early 1980s. Younger brother Reuben, who also started as a referee, followed Ricky into the business. Reuben later changed his name to Robert and became ½ of the world famous Rock ‘N’ Roll Express along with Ricky Morton, holding the NWA World’s tag team titles 4 times. Today, Rick is involved with an independent promotion and Pensacola while Robert is still teaming with Morton on independent cards throughout the Carolinas.
On the subject of referees, other Gulf Coast referees who became wrestlers to various degrees of success were as follows:
Joe Powell – Joe did a stint as a wrestler and manager in the early 70s. He managed the Wrestling Pros (Leon Baxter and Eddie Sullivan), and Rocket and Flash Monroe.. Joe is retired and living in Texas.
Lynn Sasser – Lynn was one of the best referees in the Gulf Coast in the early 70s, but decided he wanted to wrestle. He left for about six months and came back for a brief period in 1972. He also did some work for Bill Golden, but then seemed to drop off the face of the earth.
Terry Lathan – A native of Mobile, Alabama, Terry surprised many people when he defeated Dandy Jack Donovan in 1975 to win the Gulf Coast title. Later wrestled in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, but never found as much success as he did in the Gulf Coast. Today Terry is out of wrestling and living in Mobile.
Johnny Fields – Son of wrestler Don (Hatfield) Fields and nephew of promoter Lee Fields, Johnny refereed under the name "Johnny Wayne". Later teamed with cousin Ricky Fields, but only wrestled for a brief time.
Ricky Fields – Promoter Lee Fields’ son, Ricky made his first appearance on TV as a 12-year-old. It was during an on-screen brawl between his dad and Bobby Shane. He came out and bit Shane on the leg. Later worked as a referee. Ricky turned pro in 1975, first teaming with his cousin Johnny Fields. Ricky also worked in Tennessee under the name "Marshall Fields". Ricky held the Gulf Coast tag team titles twice (w/ his uncle, Bobby Fields in 1976 and w/ Ken Lucas in 1977). Ricky also formed a successful team with another former referee, Terry Lathan. In 1978 they held the Louisiana tag team titles and the Southeastern tag team titles. Ricky left wrestling in 1979 and today is living in Mobile.
Now on to those wrestlers who were in the twilight of their careers:
Eduardo Perez – No relation to Ramon Perez, Eduardo was actually the very first Gulf Coast Heavyweight champion in 1957. He defeated Lee Fields in a 14-man tournament to win the title. Perez would hold the title again in 1966 and in 1968. He and Rip Tyler were also the U.S. Tag champs in Oklahoma in 1973. Eduardo also wrestled in Florida and Tennessee in his career. Eduardo spent many years with the Florida promotion of Eddie Graham working behind the scenes.
Silento Rodriquez – Another former Gulf Coast Champion from the 60s, Silento held the title on three occasions, once in 1963 and twice in 1964. Although a deaf-mute, Silento was quite a wrestler. He made a few appearances in 1972. Silento also wrestled in Oklahoma for LeRoy McGuirk.
Billy Wicks – Real name Bill Wickston, this native of Minnesota was a 4 time Gulf Coast Champion in the 60s. He was also a very big star in Tennessee. He made a few preliminary appearances in 1973.
"Killer" Buddy Austin – Once one of the best-known heels in California and former tag team partner of Killer Kowalski (the Killers were the Americas Tag Team Champions in Los Angeles in the early 1970s). Buddy made a few appearances in the Gulf Coast area in 1971. He passed away in 1981.
Greg Peterson – Like Wicks, Greg was a native of Minnesota, but later made his home in Bonifay, Florida. Greg held the Gulf Coast title in 1968 and was also a star in Florida and Georgia. Although basically a prelim wrestler by the early 70s, Greg still gave it is all and won most of his matches. He did hold the Alabama State title in Bill Golden’s promotion as a masked man named "The Wrestler" in 1974. Greg returned to the Gulf Coast in 1976. He was married to lady wrestler Bobbi Peterson. Sadly both Bobbi and Greg passed away within two weeks of each other earlier this year.
Bob Boyer – Bob Boyer was good prelim and mid card wrestler in the AWA in Minnesota. He spent a considerable amount of time in the Gulf Coast area as well as Georgia and Florida. Bob held the Alabama Heavyweight title in 1969, but by the early 70s he was mainly opening cards. He did however move to the WWA in Indianapolis in 1973 and worked under the name Bobby Bold Eagle. He teamed with Billy Two Rivers to form a successful tag team. In 1975, he returned to the Gulf Coast for a two-week stint challenging Mike "Hippie" Boyette for the Gulf Coast title. Unfortunately, you couldn’t tell that it was him. He was wearing a rubber Halloween mask and dressed in ragged clothes and no shoes. He was managed by Al "Spider" Galento and was called "The Wildman". One of the dumbest gimmicks ever.
Frank Dalton – When the team of Jim and Jack Dalton (Jim Baggis and Don "Fargo" Kalt) split in the late 60s, Jack (Kalt) needed a new partner. Enter one Gene Stevens. Gene became Frank Dalton and the Dirty Daltons rode again. They held the U.S. tag team titles for quite awhile. Then Jack left the area and Frank was left as a solo. Frank soon started hearing the cheers of the fans as he teamed with such popular fan favorites as Ken Lucas and Cowboy Bob Kelly. In fact he and Kelly held the Mississippi tag team titles several times. Both dressed in jeans and boots, they made a natural pair. They also held the city tag team titles in Meridian and Laurel, Mississippi. Frank was always a bigger star on the Mississippi end of the promotion than he was in the Mobile / Pensacola end. He continued on in the prelims until 1973, then he left the area altogether. Frank reappeared in wrestling in the early 80s as "Friday", the handler of Kimala the Ugandan Giant (Jimmy Harris). Although it was a non-wrestling role, Frank did it in Memphis and Dallas. But soon he was out of the sport once again. Frank passed away in October of 1995. He was 54.
Tiny Frazier – Stan Frazier was unique when he started his wrestling career in the mid 60s. He was probably the biggest man in the sport, at nearly 7 feet tall and weighing well over 400 lbs. He worked in Georgia as Giant Tex Frazier and feuded with Big Tex McKenzie. He was also called Jim Younger in Tennessee for some reason. In California he was The Convict. Dressed in extra large prison stripes and mask, he was an opposing site. He made a trip to Japan under this guise and challenged Japan’s resident giant, Shoei Baba. Back home in his native Gulf Coast area, he was "Tiny" Frazier, the lovable Pascagoula Plowboy. Wrestling in overalls and barefoot, he was the local version of Haystack Calhoun or Man Mountain Mike. Stan didn’t wrestle that often, mainly he was brought in as a special attraction. He split his time between the Gulf Coast and Memphis. He ended up as a regular in Memphis after the closing of the Gulf Coast promotion. But he was saddled with some of the dumbest gimmicks ever. He was Big Rebel Frazier in Civil War garb, Playboy Frazier sporting diamond rings, and even Kimala II dressed in a loincloth. Also, he returned briefly to the Gulf Coast with Ron Fuller’s Southeastern promotion and then moved over to Georgia as Robert Fuller’s partner against the Freebirds. In the mid 1980s, when the WWF was at the height of it’s cartoon phase, he was brought to New York as Hillbilly Jim’s Uncle Elmer. He even got married on national television. After the WWF, he returned to Memphis as the Giant Hillbilly (the WWF owned the Uncle Elmer name). He later returned to Mississippi and did some work for Rip Tyler’s World Organization Wrestling promotion in 1987. He also ran his own small independent shows and trained wrestlers. One of his pupils was Bob "Hardcore" Holly of the WWF. Stan Frazier passed away in 1992 at the age of 61. He is buried in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Billy "Boy" and Jimmy "Bad Boy" Hines – Born Billy and Jimmy Yow, Billy Boy and Bad Boy Hines were one of the toughest teams in the southern part of the United States. They wrestled mainly in Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast. They held the Southern tag titles in Tennessee as well as the Tennessee version of the World tag team titles. As a single, Billy (who was the oldest by one year) had tremendous feuds with Mario Galento in Georgia. He also held the Gulf Coast title in 1963 and the Alabama title in 1969. By the early 70s, the Hines boys only teamed periodically and worked mainly in the Dothan / Panama City end of the Gulf Coast promotion. Jimmy mainly worked in prelim matches as a comic type heel, while the more serious Billy teamed with and managed Billy Spears. Both were out of the wrestling business by the late 1970s. Jimmy was killed in a car accident in 1983 at the age of 56. Billy died in November of 1993. He was 67 years old.
"Dynamite" Dick Dunn – Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Dick Dunn made his professional debut in 1960. Dick spent some time on the west coast and in the Pacific Northwest during the 60s and even did a six month tour of Australia, but most of his time was spent in his adopted home state of Alabama. Even a stint as ½ of the World’s Tag Team Champions (as the masked Red Shadow w/ Don Carson) in Tennessee wasn’t enough to keep him away. Dick held the Gulf Coast title on five different occasions (1961, twice in 1965, 1966 and 1968). But the title he is most identified with is the Alabama title. Dick held that title more often and longer than anybody. He was to the Dothan end of the promotion what Cowboy Bob Kelly was to the Mobile and Mississippi ends. He was the main star. He earned the nickname "Dynamite" for his quick and explosive moves. He could do it all, mat wrestle, aerial moves, as well as brawl if it came to it. His feuds with the Wrestling Pro (Leon Baxter) were legendary. Dick was proud to tell everyone that he was just a redneck peanut farmer from Lowry, Alabama. Dick worked some for Bill Golden’s promotion in Montgomery as well, but usually returned to the Gulf Coast area. In 1976 he and his biggest rival, the Wrestling Pro went to Tennessee as a team. They were the masked Superstars. Once again, Dick found himself with ½ of the World’s tag titles. He returned in late 1976 for one last run in Dothan and then retired. "Dynamite" Dick Dunn, whose real name was Richard Demonbreun, died on June 6, 1995.
Don Carson – Don Carson is someone that once you meet him, you will never forget him. Born Don Gaston near Cleveland, Tennessee, Don made his debut in the Gulf Coast in 1964. He soon adopted Pensacola, Florida as his hometown and kept a home there for years during all of his travels. And travel he did. Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas, California, Japan and Australia have all felt the wrath of the big blonde bomber. During his stays in the Gulf Coast, Don held the Gulf Coast title 4 times (1965, 1966, 1968 and 1976). His matches with Bobby Fields in Dothan during 1967 were wild and bloody. Carson and his partner Maxie York were the most hated men in the Gulf Coast. He also held the Gulf Coast tag team titles with seven times with three different partners (3 times in 1967 w/ "brother" Ron Carson, in 1968 and 1969 w/ Dick Dunn and twice in 1969 w/ Ken Lucas). He and his "brother" Ron also the Southern tag titles in Tennessee in 1967. Ron Carson became better known under his real name…Dick Murdoch! By forming a team with the popular Dunn in 1968, Don was suddenly hearing the cheers of the fans. Carson and Dunn also spent time in Tennessee in 1969. They held the Tennessee version of the World’s tag team titles and the Southern tag team titles. Dick Dunn wrestled as the masked Red Shadow. Carson and Dunn also spent six months as a team touring Australia. In 1970, Don ventured to Los Angeles, California and teamed with the legendary Freddie Blassie to win the Americas tag team title. They held the titles for nearly a year before losing them to Paul Jones and Nelson Royal. Blassie then turned on Carson and the two blonde meanies had a very bloody feud. Don then returned to the Gulf Coast briefly before returning to Tennessee. For much of the early 70s, Don only wrestled on occasion. He spent much of this time serving as a deputy sheriff in Cleveland. During one extended stay in Tampa, Florida, Don teamed with Bobby Shane. Don did return for one last run in the Gulf Coast in 1976, when he held the Gulf Coast title for the last time. Don returned to the area in 1979 with Ron Fuller’s Southeastern promotion. After losing a loser leaves match to Jos LeDuc, he returned under a mask as "The Big C". He teamed with "Big C #2" (Jerry Brown) to hold the Southeastern tag titles in 1980. He also managed the "Dream Team" of Randy Rose and Ron Bass when they held they SE tag belts, as well as managing the Mongolian Stomper. With his trademark loaded glove (which he called "Peanut Butter"), everyone knew that the Big C was Don Carson. Finally, the mask came off and Don stuck to wearing tuxedos and managing. He was down to just managing the Stomper and soon they moved up to the Knoxville end of the Southeastern promotion. They also spent some time in Georgia. Then in 1983, Carson appeared in Joe Blanchard’s Southwestern Championship Wrestling promotion managing the masked Grapplers (Len Denton and Tony Anthony). He led them to the SW version of the World’s tag titles with a win over old rival (and partner) Ken Lucas and Ricky Morton. Don fell in love with San Antonio and when he retired for good in the mid 80s, he stayed there. That is where he is to this day. Don did come back to Dothan in 1998 and wrestled old rival and friend Ken Lucas.
So whether they are new guys or old timers or even somewhere in between, these guys who wrestle in the first, second or third match on the card are still serving a role for the promotion. Whether they win or lose, they are doing more than just "the job". They are not just "jobbers". They are professional wrestlers.
Many thanks as always to David Williamson for all his knowledge and help in preparing this article.
I will take a look at some of the tag teams that competed in the Gulf Coast over the years.
Back to Gulf Coast Main