Web posted Monday, December 28, 1998 3:25 p.m. CT
Funks head Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame class
Excerpts from the story By CHRIS GOVE
Globe-News Sports Writer
Journeys around the world and back haven't caused the Funk brothers, Terry and Dory Jr., to forget where they came from.
So at 2 p.m. Feb. 7, they're going to feel right at home.
That afternoon, the Funks will become the first brothers inducted on the same day into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Amarillo College's Ordway Auditorium.
The brothers both graduated from Canyon High School and played collegiate football at West Texas State in the 1960s before becoming pioneers in professional wrestling.
"It's really the finest thing I can imagine," Terry Funk said. "It's just wonderful to be put into something like that. Deserving I may not be, but I sure wouldn't turn it down. A lot of things are momentary, but this is not. Plus, it's a hometown type of deal and that's the difference. That makes it even more thrilling."
The brothers will be inductee Nos. 115 and 116 into the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame, which has been honoring the area's top sports figures since 1958.
Perhaps the PSHOF is a little extra special for Terry and Dory Funk Jr. because they saw their father, Dory Funk Sr., inducted posthumously in 1976.
Dory Funk Sr. was the man whose footsteps both boys followed into professional wrestling. The end result was fame and respect throughout the country and stretching to Japan, where the brothers still are fan favorites.
In their careers, both have won individual world titles and they've teamed up for various tag-team titles both in the U.S. and Japan.
It was during their careers that professional wrestling transformed from a plethora of locally run events to a nationwide sensation that draws some of the best ratings on cable television.
"It was a very different business then," Dory Funk Jr., said. "It used to really be a family business. My father was a wrestler and was involved in promotion. Terry and I wrestled. We were all working together. At the present time, it's nationwide, a huge production."
It all started for the Funk brothers in the late 1940s when the family moved to Texas and Dory Sr. became superintendent at Boys Ranch. where he started the ranches wrestling program.
Terry and Dory Jr. started wrestling along with the rest of the Boy's Ranch kids, though football was center stage for each in the 1960s at West Texas State University.
Dory Jr. was a starting defensive end and offensive tackle on WT's 1963 Sun Bowl champion team. Terry, meanwhile, played from 1963-65 for the Buffs.
After college football was over, though, each embarked on professional wrestling careers and traveled throughout West Texas.
During those days, Dory Sr. was a promoter and brought events almost weekly into Amarillo before crowds of 3,000 or more fans. Also, fans packed towns like Littlefield, Abilene, Odessa and El Paso to watch the Funks and other pros go at it for sometimes hours at a time.
On Feb. 11, 1969 - things began to really pick up for the family on a different level when Dory Jr. beat Gene Kiniski for the world championship during a match in Tampa, Fla.
That night, Dory Sr. was in the corner during his son's proudest moment.
"It really changed everything," Dory Jr. said. "It still affects my life today."
He maintained the title through 1973, and even after losing it Terry reclaimed it for the Funk family in 1975. The brothers also won many titles as tag-team partners and are two of the most famous figures ever in professional wrestling.
Among the greatest rivals the brothers cited were Jack Brisco, Harley Race, Antonio Inoki - one of the most heralded Japanese wrestlers - and Ric Flair.
The organizations that the Funks wrestled in are multiple, notably the National Wrestling Association (NWA) - which has basically formed into the current World Championship Wrestling - and the World Wrestling Federation and the ECW.
Both brothers are still involved in pro wrestling, though at 54 years old Terry is accepting just a handful of invitations.
These days, Dory Jr. lives in Ocala, Fla., with wife Marti. Dory Jr. has three children - Penny Dustman, who lives in Amarillo With her husband Robert, who runs Dustman Concrete Corp.; Adam Funk, who teaches at Tascosa High School; and Dory III, who is a doctor in Colorado.
And though he lives in Florida, Dory Jr. spends a good deal of his time in Stamford, Conn. - headquarters for the WWF - to run the WWF Funking Dojo. The World Wrestling Federation's training center for their stars of the future.
Some of the wrestlers he's worked with include members of The Brood, a group including Edge, Christian and Gangrel. Also, Dory. Jr has worked with Val Venis of the WWF and says that his newest protege, Olympic Gold Medalist, Kurt Angle, is a potential superstar. (In all there are 25 current wrestlers on the WWF roster who have attended the WWF Funking Dojo)
Still, he says there's no place like home.
"I live in Florida, but Texas is my home," Dory Jr. said. "It always will be and I will always return when I have the opportunity. I've been very lucky that I've had the opportunity to see a lot of things around the world because of my profession, but there is no place like Amarillo, Texas.
"I grew up watching the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame
and I never dreamed I'd ever be a member. I consider it a real honor."
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