Last Saturday almost 62,000 people attended the Paris St. Germain versus Chelsea F.C. soccer game at Bank of America Stadium. These two international titans going head-to-head with a lot of cheering for both sides made me think of Charlotte’s maturation as a sport town.
Recently, I had a chance to share at my Rotary Club a presentation on Health, Happiness & History. During the “History” portion I told of my story of witness at the soccer game & my recollections that came from it.
The major league teams are enjoying success. The Hornets are recognized internationally by logo, the Panthers are beginning training camp & expected to be competitive. The BB&T ballpark is breaking records with our Charlotte Knights & NASCAR has so many teams, drivers & owners headquartered in our area that the NASCAR Hall of Fame couldn’t resist being located somewhere else.
Before the “big” sports took the spotlight, there were the three R’s: Racing, Roundball… this IS ACC-basketball country, after all! And of course, ‘Rassling’. Don’t laugh at the last one. Professional wrestling’s epicenter in the 70’s & 80’s was Charlotte, NC. This fan-friendly, television-promoted category laid the framework of sport & promotion that we enjoy today.
Due to Charlotte-based Jim Crockett Promotions & their brands such as “Pro Championship Wrestling” “East Coast Wrestling”, “Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling” & “Wide World Wrestling” there were hundreds of wrestlers that worked within Charlotte during those years. Many hailed from NC & many remained. Here are just a few that were in our area:
If you saw this guy at the grocery you’d call him Gary Sabaugh; but in the Ring he was known as “The Italian Stallion” & he lives in Charlotte.
Terry Allen was the name on his credit card if you saw him out at a restaurant but at the Grady Cole Center he was Magnum TA. He lives here in Charlotte.
His Charlotte Library Card read Larry Shreve but at a WBTV’s, 1 Julian Price Place taping he was Addullah the Butcher. Although he was from Atlanta, he did a lot of work in Charlotte. His best-known wrestling move? The FOREIGN OBJECT!
Sylvester Ritter was born in Wadesboro but his wrestling-action figure was the JUNKYARD DOG.
He’ll answer to Richard Henry Blood on a boat in his Mooresville, NC-homewaters of Lake Norman but at the old, Charlotte Coliseum, he was known as Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat
Richard Morgan Fleihr could frequently be seen in south Charlotte steakhouses but most people know him as the “Nature Boy”.
Guess what!! Vince McMahon, the CEO of the World Wrestling Enterprise, consolidated many of the different promotions into one. He is a billionaire that lives in Stamford, CT & from all that I could surmise he hasn’t lived in Charlotte
…………but he was born in Pinehurst, NC!
Wow! We’ve come a long way as a sports community. I hope you can join our TAILGATE at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday, September 3rd, for the University of North Carolina versus the University of South Carolina Football Kickoff. You never know there could be a professional wrestler lurking in there somewhere.
Bill Bartee is the owner of Jesse Brown’s & co-host of WBT’s Carolina Outdoors Radio Program every Saturday morning at 5 a.m. on 1110 WBT AM/ 99.3 FM