Who is Marti?
I was in the, "drink, party, and drown my sorrow in country music syndrome." I shaved my head. I occasionally moved in with friends, Dick Slater and Lord Alfred Hayes, and drove them crazy. Then I tried to become a long distance runner and went on a diet while running eight miles a day. I dropped my weight down to 207 pounds. I remember wrestling in Abilene, Texas one night. On the same card were three big guys, Harley Race weighing 270, Tank Patton weighing 280, and Randy Tyler tipping the scales at 265. We were all in the same dressing room. Harley Race looked at me and said, "Dunk, you may be in the best shape of your life, and this may be good for your heart, but I gotta tell you, "You really look bad." Those guys all over 265 lbs. were telling me I looked bad, in shape at 207 lbs. ??? I thought these guys must be crazy!!
This was a period of time that I lost sight of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my life. It is fortunate that I had a natural ability to survive in the wrestling business. In December of 1980 I was wrestling in Florida and after the matches at the old Tampa Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Eddie Graham, Terry and I went to the Pancake House on Dale Mabry Street and talked. Eddie wanted me to come to Florida to book the territory. We set there and drank coffee until 3:30 in the morning. It was then that he told me what he would pay me to come in and I said I'll be there.
Now I had the answer to a broken marriage, I'll just dive into the wrestling business. That should solve all the problems. I got an apartment in Tampa. I hung my dress suits at the Sportatorium in Tampa for TV interview appearances, stocked my refrigerator with TV dinners, and threw a few blankets from home on the bed. (No sheets) My life became wrestling and sleep with party in between. I laid down the rules for the territory, "No Drinking After Three in the Afternoon." "We must be sober when we go in the ring." I put Captain Bobby Jaggars in charge of my ski boat. (Would you believe it, Jaggars is a great water skier? See, anything is possible.) Tommy Gilbert, and David von Erich were my drinking partners. In Florida we were blessed with great talent. The three affore mentioned plus Butch (Hacksaw) Reed, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Terry Funk, Jerry Lawler, Sweet Brown Sugar, Jack Brisco, Jerry Brisco, Kendo Nagasaki, Haru Sonoda, Brusier Brody, Andre the Giant, the voice of Championship Wrestling from Florida, Gordon Solie and referee Bill Alfonzo. We also had a bright new star on the horizon in Hulk Hogan who did a promo for us and called the Mighty Igor the Mighty Ignoramus and drew us money everywhere they went. Hulk has that intangible that fills arenas, charisma. Those are only a partial list of the wrestlers that worked for me in Florida and for their hard work I thank and love them all.
Our wrestling feuds included Butch (Hacksaw) Reed vs Ric Flair for the world championship, myself and Dusty Rhodes, The Funks vs Jack and Jerry Brisco, David von Erich and Dory Funk vs Reed and Sweet Brown Sugar, Kendo Nagasaki vs Mike Graham in Kendo Stick matches, a two ring, "Giant Battle Royal," featuring Brody and Andre the Giant, and Terry Funk vs Jerry Lawler fresh from their famous match in the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis Tennessee with no one in attendance, the absolute worst gate in the history of wrestling, $ .00.
I didn't know why, but when I got to Florida, referee Bill Alfonzo was in hot water with Eddie Graham. As his booker, Eddie had a way of letting me know what he wanted. I knew the ax was coming for Bill Alfonzo straight from the top. I regretted it and hoped somehow it wouldn't happen. I knew Fonzie personally and knew his beautiful wife Suzie. Suzie had kidney disease and not much time to live. She was nursing a one year old baby. Fonzie worked hard and needed the money.
One Saturday night, at the Bayfront Center before a sellout crowd and TV cameras, Terry and I were wrestling the Brisco Brothers. Terry and I were on the far side of the ring and didn't see the big cowboy from the front row come into the ring. Little Bill Alfonzo, the referee was the only one who saw him coming and met him at the ropes. It was all Alfonzo could do to hang onto the cowboy's hair and prevent him from blind-siding Terry and I. Fonzie at 140 pounds was hanging on for dear life. At that point, Terry spotted the goings on and what happened next wasn't pretty. Terry caught the big fella with a left hook to the nose and then gently returned the cowboy to his front row seat. After the match was over, security helped the cowboy to the restroom to clean up the blood. Anyway, the point of the story is this was all recorded on TV and the next day Eddie Graham saw the film clips. Eddie respected guys who had guts and Since Fonzie saved the day, he qualified and never had to worry about his job as long as Eddie Graham was there.
This was my first adventure as a booker in a territory outside of Amarillo and things were going great and I was enjoying the business aspect of my life. but there was still something missing.
One day in the office at the Sportatorium I looked at the program for Championship Wrestling from Florida and noticed an ad featuring Marti I and Marti II, two girls selling T-shirts at the arenas, one was a, "red head," and one was a, "Blond." I looked at Eddie Graham and said, "What is this? What are these two girls doing cutting into your marketing money? He just looked at me and then changed the subject. I finally figured out that they were making Eddie Graham lots of money on product sales.
I watched these two girls as they traveled to the towns. They were both attractive and fun to be around, but I had a feeling for one of them. You know how it is when you feel real special about someone, but you really aren't sure about asking them out for fear that they might not accept. Well that's the way it was. We just talked a lot and were always happy to see each other.
In the spring of 1981 I finally asked her out for a date, Marti the Red Head. I felt so good when she said, "I'd love to." It really makes a guy feel good when a girl lets him know she is happy to be with him. I found someone that I enjoyed being with. At first, we just took life as it came. I threw out the TV dinners, bought some sheets for my bed, relieved Captain Bobby Jaggars of his duties and had a good time. I remember Bill Alfonzo bringing over a bunch of fresh smelt that he had netted over in Tampa Bay. Marti cooked and David, Fonzie, his brother David Seirra, and the two of us had a ball. It was the first home cooked meal I had in a long time.
It was in the fall of 1981 that I asked Marti if she would go with me to the National Wrestling Alliance meeting in Las Vegas Nevada. She replied, "I'll go with you to Egypt." No offense to Egypt, I would like to go there myself someday. We began a trip that will take us many places."
"Dory, do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?" ---- I responded, "I do." And Martha, Do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband? ---- She responded, "I do." --- and then words from Pastor John McKinley, Marti's Father. "You may kiss the bride."
It has only just begun,
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