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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Funk's Corner - Hulk Hogan, He Was My "Bad Guy" First

Source - Dory Funk Jr.:

"I'll take that "Mighty Ignoramus" and stuff his air head up his muscle bound rear end and smother him to death." Those were the words of Hulk Hogan as he spoke on interviews at the Sportatorium in Tampa Florida in 1981. It was Hulk's first excursion into the wrestling world as a heel.

Working with Eddie Graham, I had brought "The Mighty Igor" to the Florida Territory. Something of interest had to come quickly," Fans needed excitement now, or they would go elsewhere.

Might Igor could draw money quickly. We put him on television sitting in the audience with the wrestling fans. He cheered for the good guys and booed at the bad guys and loved waving at the camera. Igor wore his cut off long handles and a black beret. He smoked a cigar and chewed on a huge piece of polish sausage that he shared with the fans. Everyone loved Mighty Igor from the start.

On the third week, The Mighty Igor perform his feats of strength. With great fanfare, he bent a steel bar between his teeth, (I believe it was made out of lead) charged a trash can with six wrestlers bracing against it, (Naturally, they all fell on their rear-ends) and stood steadfast in the ring while three men on each side pulled on a rope wrapped around his neck. While pulling with all their might (sic) The Mighty Igor reached out and grabbed the rope and gave it a, "Mighty," pull and all crashed into each other. Now, the need was there for someone strong to face the, "Mighty Igor."

I talked with Hulk Hogan, (Terry Bollea) who lived in Tampa at the time. Even though Hulk Hogan was already an international star in the world of Pro wrestling, he wanted to have a successful run in the Florida Territory where he grew up as an athlete and musician. Hulk shook my hand and said, "Brother, I will work my tail off for you. All I want is the opportunity to work in my home territory and be free to show what I can do."

What more could a new booker ask for? Hulk and Mighty Igor popped the territory drawing "Sell Out" crowds all over Florida and giving us time to establish other wrestlers who could take over later.

Now Hulk Hogan is the biggest name in wrestling and ranks as the all time top box office attraction among all sports entertainers. In Florida, Hulk was on the side of the most colorful of wrestling characters, the "Bad Guy." I am proud to have been a part of his historic climb to the top and will always remember Hulk Hogan was once my "Bad Guy."

On behalf of myself, Tommy Gilbert, Jack and Jerry Brisco, Ric Flair, Haru Sonoda, Kendo Nagasaki, David von Erich, Sweet Brown Sugar, Hacksaw Butch Reed, J.J. Dillon, Kevin Sullivan, The Assassins, Brian Blair, Dusty Rhodes, Eddie Graham, Mike Graham, Steve Kiern, Big John Studd, Bruiser Brody, Terry Funk, Jerry Lawler, Don Morroco, Sir Oliver Humperdink, Super Star Billy Graham, Tonga Fifita, and many more who worked Florida at the time,

"Thank you Terry Bollea"

Even though your stay was short, you set the stage for others to have a successful run with Championship Wrestling from Florida.

For more wrestling stories, hundreds of wrestling videos, ticket information to our next !BANG! TV Taping and training information, visit http://www.dory-funk.com or call 352-895-4658.

Dory Funk Jr., Coach of the Funking Conservatory Wrestling School and Trainer of WWE wrestling talent.