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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

The Sports Bookie

A sports blog by Bob D'Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia.

That hillbilly wrestler was robbed


Published:

For folks enamored by the current state of pro wrestling, or for those who cherish the good old days of Gordon Solie and “Championship Wrestling From Florida,” here’s a rasslin’ tale from Tampa that took place on Oct. 7, 1940.

“Farmer Bob” Savage, who called competitors in 1940 “sissies,” promised to donate his night’s earnings to charity if he did not defeat a pair of opponents within an hour in their match at Tampa’s Benjamin Field.

Call it a handicap match; well, Solie would have called it that, “certainly no question about that.” And I suppose that by taking on two men at once, “Farmer Bob” was the original “Macho Man,” a nickname proclaimed by the late Randy Poffo, the Tampa Bay area resident who became famous as pro wrestler Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

In 1940, like now, those good-vs.-evil dramas of pro wrestling sometimes favored the good guys. Savage. a bewhiskered, so-called hillbilly from Kentucky, had to cough up the cash.

Don Evans and Al Getz teamed up to win before 1,500 fans in an arena that was located on what is now the site of Tampa International Airport. Naturally, the finish was controversial, according to Savage’s manager, Cousin Willie.

Getz apparently yanked Savage’s legs out from under him near the ropes, and Evans fell on top of his opponent for the pinfall. That didn’t sit well with Cousin Willie, who complained to the referee, and, when not getting the decision reversed, smashed his banjo over Getz’s head and bloodied him.

The headline in the Oct. 8, 1940, edition of the Tampa Morning Tribune was succinct; “Two Foes Gang Up On Savage To Win Bout at Field, Ring.”

In an earlier match on that Tampa card, Jack Reeder was disqualified against Stanley Pinto when he was caught tying his opponent’s shoe strings together.

Some things never change. Just ask Cousin Willie.

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