In Funk's Corner

How I Became Champ

Winning the NWA Title with my father in my corner. Tampa Florida,
February 11, 1969
E-mail Dory Funk Jr.
Visit Dory's Home Page
On January 25th in Ocala, Florida almost to the day, 35 years later, I will have the opportunity to do it one more time when the curreent NWA World Champion, Jeff Jarrett defends his title here in Ocala, Florida.

How I became Champ.
As told by Dory Funk Jr. to Leo Garibaldi (Booker for Georgia Championship Wrestling)
Reprint from the program - Georgia Championship Wrestling March 3rd, 1969
Paul Jones and Ray Gunkel co promoters:

I knew from the moment we made contact in the center of the ring that Kiniski considered me a set-up. Just another opponent. Another pay-day. I also noticed the roll of fat around his gut. It told me he would tire quickly if I set a fast pace from the start. But he was strong as an ox. When I tried for an armlock, he whisked me off as easily as you whisk a fly off a piece of sugar. I knew then and there that I would have to be crazy to try to out muscle him. I had to beat him with speed, with pressure, with my head. I had to out think him.

When I started to move around him he became angry and spat at me. Then he started to call me names. I laughed at him. That made him more angry. But he couldn't do anything except to keep calling me more names. I slapped his face. I wanted him to get still angrier in the hope that he would lose his head and make mistakes. But Gene Kiniski has been around too long to fall for an old trick like that. Anyway, I figured it was at least worth a try.

My strategy, which my father helped me develop weeks before the big bout, was to center my attack on Kiniski's legs. Actually, it was Dad's idea. "When a man gets to be my age," Dad explained, "and I am only a little older than Kiniski, the first thing that goes are his legs. This applies not only to all athletes, it applies to everybody. Kiniski is just as powerful today as he ever was. Everywhere except in his legs. So that's where we hit hardest. We cut his legs out from under him. Understand?"

I understood. Dad became my sparring partner. We wrestled for hours, with him playing the part of Kiniski. "Get my legs!" he would yell. But when I went for his legs, Dad sent me flying back into the ropes with a whack in the mouth or a brain shattering drop-kick. "No, No!" Dad growled. "Not that way, Kiniski will kill you if you try that on him. You must get in underneath his arms and yank his legs out from under him, See, like this...

Then Dad would demonstrate what he was talking about and, wham! Down I went, right on my behind, while he was twisting my legs around behind my neck.

So you can understand how fully conditioned and primed I was for Kiniski when I stepped into the ring in Tampa, I did what Dad told me to do. I stayed low, bobbed and weaved my upper body and when I got low enough and outside the range of his tree-like arms, I dumped him on his behind by yanking his legs out from under him. 

I did it a few times, but he always got loose on sheer strength alone. I could see from the expression on Kiniski's face that he had suddenly realized that this wasn't going to be just another match and another easy payday. His mood changed. No longer was he calling me names. No longer was he pawing at me as if I were a punk kid. He started to spit on the palms of his hands and rub them together like a man does when he is about to chop down a tree. When a man like Kiniski spits on his hands, you can be sure he's dead serious. It also was the signal for me to move even faster and keep out of the rang of his hands. The one thing I could not let him do was get his big paws on me.

I think is was a fairly even match for about 20 minutes. The he tired badly. All of a sudden, he stopped moving around on his toes. Instead he was standing flat-footed, spinning around on the balls of his feet as I circled him. This was the moment I had been waiting for. This was the moment my Dad had told me was sure to come if I played my had properly. This was the time to win the championship of the world!

I feinted a move at Kiniski's plodding legs. But he realized exactly what was running through my mind and he aimed a football straight-arm at my face. Had I intended to go in at him at that moment rather than feint him, he would surely have caught me with that straight-arm.

I feinted at his legs again. The same thing happened. I did it a third time, with the same result. But the forth time, I ducked my head under his extended arm and really went in. The move was perfectly timed. I caught his legs and with a swift tug, sent him crashing to the floor.

From that point on, everything went like clockwork, exactly as we had planned. You probably know that the favorite hold of all we wrestling Funks, including my kid brother, Terry is the spinning toe hold. My Dad is really the master of that hold. He invented it and he perfected it. He also taught it to his sons. It was my spinning toe hold that had to beat Kiniski, and now he was in perfect position for me to clamp it on him.

He knew what I wanted to do and he made a desperate attempt to pull his left leg from my grasp. But I had the leg in position and when I wrapped his other leg in behind my own leg, I knew I had him. He knew it, too. He used his last ounce of strength in a desperate attempt to break free. He couldn't do it. He than looked for the nearest ring rope to grab, But I had planned for that emergency too. When I brought him down, I made sure he would fall out of range of any ropes, near the center of the ring.

I looked down at his agony twisted face and turned on the juice. He screamed out in pain. The referee bent down close to Kiniski's face. "Do you want to quit?" The referee asked. Kiniski shook his head. No! I increased the pressure to almost the breaking point. I didn't want to go all the way without giving him another chance to submit because I knew I would break his leg. I said, "You better quit right now, Kiniski. I'm warning you. Quit or you'll never walk again!"


Dory Funk Jr. vs Jeff Jarrett for the NWA  World Title
Sunday January 25th in Ocala, Florida at the Dory Funk Arena.
Sanctioned by the National Wrestling Alliance
For ticket information:
Call - 352-895-4658
E-mail the Funking Conservatory
 Visit Dory's Home Page

Jeff Jarrett and Bob Ryder will be scouting for talent for NWA/TNA