THE WAY IT WAS
by Percival A. Friend

(The EPITOME of Wrestling Managers)

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Bull Curry
A publicity shot of Bull Curry from the mid-60's

Bobo and Bull Curry

A lot of rivals have been in print during the golden years of wrestling (1930-1980), and they have pitted the best that wrestling had to offer.

On the East Coast, Yukon Eric battled many times with Killer Kowalski, one match ending with Eric losing an ear from a knee drop off the top rope. The Maritimes had Don Leo Jonathon battling Mad Dog Vachon in matches that resulted in violent, bloody endings. The Mid-Atlantic States had Johnny "Rubberman" Walker facing Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods. Florida had Bob Orton Sr. doing battle with Eddie Graham, many times with both men going to the hospital because of injuries.

On the West Coast, Rocky Montero had a big feud going with Mil Mascaras. Dory Funk Sr. had a personal grudge against Cyclone Negro in the Amarillo territory because of what he had done to his sons, Terry and Dory Jr. Milwaukee had The Crusher against Johnny Valentine, ending in riots everyplace they had a pairing.

But, the greatest battles that were seen in a lot of territories were between Bobo Brazil and The Sheik. This was an ongoing feud of over two decades that came to a head on May 29, 1971. Bobo had gone before a sellout crowd at Cobo Hall on the previous card and challenged his great rival for the coveted United States belt. The fan support got him the final title shot he would ever get, according to manager Farook.

Bobo had stated to the fans at WXON-TV the following morning that, if he were given the title shot and he did NOT WIN, he would take his trunks off in the middle of the ring and never wrestle again. Bobo kept his promise to the fans at Cobo Hall and beat The Sheik in one of the bloodiest matches ever held at the air-conditioned complex in the Motor City.

Most guys, after winning a title belt, would take two or three weeks off to get into shape for the next contender. They might go hunting or fishing, or travel to an island beach and relax following a hectic battle. Bobo was not that kind of champion; he took over all the bookings that the Sheik had been slated to appear at, beginning with the following evening in Toronto and the next day in Columbus, Ohio.

Columbus was the hub of a few different promoters that had brought the best that the business had to offer. Al Haft was a genius when it came to promoting, and, with big names on each card, he kept the buildings at full capacity. However, when Francis Fleser bought him out in 1967, the tradition of bringing the best the business had to offer never lost its touch; it seemed to get even better and bigger.

The main event was to be The Sheik vs. Wild Bull Curry in a title match. Bull was undefeated in Columbus and had, on the last card, beaten the largest man in the territory, 601-pound Haystacks Calhoun. Bull had also beaten a lot of headliners in Columbus, like Luis Martinez, Bulldog Brower, Ernie Ladd, John Tolos, Guy Mitchell, and Sweet Daddy Siki.

Following the semi-main event, the lights dimmed in the main arena, and Bull started for the ring. Grabbing at his ears and shouting out at the fans, he made it to the ring and started fights with fans in the first three rows of chairs. Bull was quite the scrapper and would fight almost anybody. He just didn't care. He wanted to fight, and he did not back down from anyone.

From the rear of the overflow crowd came Bobo Brazil, wearing the United States belt that he was so proud of. He stopped and signed autographs, took pictures and shook hands on his way to the ring. He never took his eyes off Bull Curry, as the two had met a few times before, and Bobo knew that he would not have a night off with this guy.

After the introductions were over and four fans were ejected from the ring, the match finally got underway. Bull Curry jumped out of his corner as soon as the bell rang and attacked Bobo before the new champion could get his beautiful ring jacket off and was pummeling him with fists and boots to the head and back area. The wildman pulled hair, gouged eyes, and had Bobo on his back in the middle of the ring.

Curry continued to punish his foe for nearly 15 minutes with forearm blows that could be heard in the rear of the building where I was standing. Suddenly, the fans started chanting, "Bo-Bo ... Bo-Bo … Bo-Bo," and it seemed to excite something inside of Bobo that had been knocked silly by his opponent.

With strength that seemed to start from his toes right up to his massive fists, Bobo broke the reverse chinlock that Bull had on him. He grabbed Curry by the ears and lifted him from the mat and drove him towards the ring lights high overhead. Curry dropped to the mat in a crumpled heap and, wanting to fight back, started to rise to his feet. Bobo reached out and grabbed him by the hair this time and delivered a massive head butt to Bull, busting his forehead wide open and knocking him out of the ring to the arena floor.

Blood was flying everywhere, and Bull jumped back into the ring and started to retaliate, swinging wildly with rights and lefts that were not connecting. He nearly took the referee out with one of the haymakers, but the referee was quick enough to get out of the way.

Bobo grabbed Bull by the ears again and gave him another massive head butt and hung on to Bull. He pulled him from the mat by his ears again, asking the crowd, with a single finger in the air, if they wanted more. To their delight, he delivered a third head butt to Bull, dropping him to the mat. Covering him for the three count was the final move of the match. Brazil was still the champion but knew that he had been in a very serious battle with one of the best that could have taken the belt from him if it had not been for the fans' support.

Bobo went on to defend his title against many opponents nationwide until finally losing it later to the same man he beat to gain the title, The Sheik.

Bobo, The Sheik and Bull are all in that big ring in the sky and are very sadly missed. May God continue to bless your souls.

Percival A. Friend, Retired
The Epitome of Wrestling Managers

Bobo Brazil
Bobo Brazil with his U.S. belt

(MIDI Musical Selection: "You Gave Me A Mountain")

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