Terry Funk (Ready for Action) Dory Funk Jr. (Ready for Action)
"Son of a bitch, Funk keep your hands out of my hair." I knew if I wanted to make this Oklahoma Indian mad, all I had to do was reach for his hair. Jack Brisco was proud of his long black hair of Indian ancestry. Proud enough to make him bristle when he first won the NWA world heavyweight championship and Dallas promoter and wrestling icon, Fritz von Erich suggested that he get a haircut. In the early '70's Jack was starting to loose a bit of that precious mane. A small bald spot had begun to appear in the very center of his head. If I didn't want to see a great wrestling match turn quickly into a fist fight, I left Jack's hair alone.
My recollection of hair machismo goes way back to my days of lifeguarding at Gem Lake Swimming Pool as a high school kid in Amarillo, Texas. A friend of the family, Builder, Charley Walker, was a successful strong personality, masculine person. At the age of 40 his hair started turning grey. Soon all the grey was gone and his hair returned to cold black. Terry Funk, then a junior high school student used to follow him around the pool in front of all the young girls yelling, "Hey Blackie." Charley was a big strong guy and would chase Terry around the pool until Terry hit the water. Charley was no match for Young Terry Funk at swimming.
In the early seventies, shoe polish was often the popular way to cover up the skin on the head. Chief Wahoo McDanials always carried an ample supply in his wrestling bag. Some of the boys went to the extreme and actually wore some version of a wig into the ring with orders to their opponents to leave the hair alone. Among these were Cowboy Bob Ellis, Tony Marino, Bruno Sammartino, Johnny Powers, Killer Kowalski and Miguel Perez.
Jack Curtice, nephew of long time Jackson, Mississippi promoter and wrestling legend George Curtice came to the Amarillo territory wearing a wig, a good one. My father, Dory Funk Sr. talked him into walking to the ring with the wig on, then after the introduction, walking back to the corner and removing his ring jacket and wig and giving it to the ring attendant before the bell.
A couple of weeks ago at the Ilio DePaolo Memorial I saw Waldo von Erich with a full head of long curly hair. I had wrestled Waldo in the seventies including my first match in St. Louis' Kiel Auditorium as NWA world champion. In those days, he was always the skin headed German gestapo, swastika carrying stereotype. True to form, I was embarassed to say anything about his newfound beautiful head of hair.
I have a wig myself. On rare occasions I pull out the old piece for a bit of fun just to see the reaction I get from friends I haven't seen in a while. In 1979 Terry and I were working a special show in Kansas City for Central States Wrestling. (Bob Giegel, Promoter) Traveling from Dallas to K.C. on the old Braniff Airlines I wore the wig. It really looked good. As I was putting my carry on baggage in the overhead rack, I intentionally let it brush against my wig, knocking it slightly to the side. I pretended I didn't realize I had disturbed my wig. I turned quickly looking to the rear of the airplane to see the reaction of the passengers. I saw no smiles, but I also saw no faces. All of the passengers turned their head the other way to avoid embarasing me with their snickers.
When we arrived at the Arena in Kansas City the first wrestler I saw was Tommy Gilbert. The wig was in proper position. I shook hands with Tommy and said It is good to see you, you are looking good. He only made the comment that he had been working out but made no reference to my head of hair. What a surprise when I saw all of the other wrestlers and no one commented about my hair even though I could see them looking at my head instead of my face. Then as I was talking to Bob Brown, Leo Burk and Bobby Whitlock, I could hear laughter coming from behind me. I turned around to see the Brisco Brothers, Jack and Jerry hanging on to each other laughing at my hair.
Eighteen years after the incident in Kansas City at the Eddie Gilbert memorial in Cherry Hill, Marti and I invited Tommy and Peggy Gilbert up to our room. Just to see their reaction I slipped the wig over my head and answered the door. Peggy fell out laughing but Tommy just stood there and with a straight face said, "Junior, How are you doing?"
I was a participant in the '96 Royal Rumble for Titan Sports. Coming in from Japan for the event, I was a late arrival for a scheduled meeting with Vince McMahon at the Fresno Arena. I walked in, meeting in progress with a full head of hair. I had the attention of everyone as I walked to the stage where Mr. McMahon was conducting the meeting. I shook his hand, looked him straight in the eye and said, "I am sorry I am late." I could see his eyes look to my forehead but out of concern for my feelings he didn't crack a smile and said, "welcome to the Royal Rumble." Jerry Brisco standing beside him fell off the stage in hysterics. I turned to find a chair. Without cracking a smile or acknowledging my new growth of hair, Owen Hart got up and gave me his seat. Owen is a kid with good manners and lots of class.
I like to sit in the dressing room and watch the, "Good Looking Guys" prepare for their entrance to the ring. One wrestler in particular who I will not tell his name, sits for long periods of time with a mirror and light in hand meticulously arranging each dyed hair on top of his head so his pate will not shine.
And he used to yell at old Charley, "Hey Blackie"
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