Dory Funk Jr. and NWA Promoter, Howard Brody
We pulled in the gates of the old Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, Florida. 31 years ago on February 11, 1969 in this very arena, my life was changed when I became NWA World Heavyweight Champion, taking the belt from Gene Kiniski.
As we parked the car, the Florida National Guard was using the Armory for drills and instructional classes. I asked Howard Brody if Marti and I could take a look inside. I hadn't seen the inside of the building in 20 years and wrestling has been out of the Armory for the last 18 years. Howard was concerned that we might be intruding but I had to take a look.
It was exactly the same. The upstairs dressing room where I first saw Ric Flair cut an interview for a world title match against Butch Reed, The balcony where the likes of Jack Brisco, Harley Race, Dusty Rhodes, Sweet Brown Sugar, Terry Funk, Barry Whindom, Jerry Lawler, Hulk Hogan, Jerry Brisco, David von Erich, J.J. Dillon and Kevin Sullivan began their walk down the stairs to the main floor and out the aisle to the center of the ring. This is the place where young Mike Graham, Steve Kiern and Brian Blair began their careers.
As I stood looking at the empty building I could hear in my mind the voice Eddie Graham, Promoter of Championship Wrestling from Florida talking about the need for competition and credibility in the wrestling business. I could also hear the Dean of All Commentators, Gordon Solie describing in detail, as only he could do, the television matches of Championship Wrestling from Florida.
I would have never dreamed professional wrestling would not be taking place every Tuesday night at the Armory in Tampa, Florida but it stopped and has not been seen in the Tampa Armory in the past 18 years. Now credit to NWA promoter, Howard Brody professional wrestling will return to the Armory in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday August 15th with a great card featuring a special one night tournament to decide the new Florida Heavyweight Champion. I will be there to present the belt to the winner.
Entered in the tournament is one of my special students, Adam Windsor. He is born and bred of royal blood, he's the "Royal Stud." (Of course it would take an incredible set of circumstances for Adam to become King)
Adam has been in training with me in the Funking Conservatory for ten months. His skills in pro wrestling are improving rapidly. I will be in his corner at the Armory in Tampa. Many of his friends from the Funking Conservatory including Flying Fred Curry, Bruiser Layton, Keny Garrett and Dino Blade will be in attendance. His mother, father and two brothers are flying in from England for the event. Still at only 18 years of age, 5' 11 and 210 pounds, Adam Windsor is an underdog, but it could happen. Lou Thesz was only 19 years old when he became NWA World Champion.
Howard, Marti and I had finished dinner at our favorite Spanish restaurant in Tampa and had come to agreement on arrangements for Adam to appear in the tournament. Howard graciously picked up the check and on the way to the cash register noticed a photo on the restaurant wall with the name on it, Karl Gotch. Howard came back to me and said, "Hey is that the guy who was sitting at the next table?" I peeked around the corner and there he was sitting at the table next to where we were sitting.
What a coincidence!!!
With all the respect I have for Karl as a teacher and the great wrestlers
he has trained, Hiro Matsuda, Antonio Inoki and Billy Robinson to name
a few and I had only met him once many years ago, he had been sitting right
beside me for the last fifteen minutes. I marked out.
NWA Promoter, Howard Brody with Legend, Karl Gotch and Dory Funk Jr.
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