Funk's Corner - Sputnik Monroe - "He Was a Diamond Ring and Cadillac Man"
 
I am saddened to hear of the passing of Sputnik Monroe. He was one of our family's best friends. 
 
I learned much about the wrestling business by knowing and working with Sputnik Monroe. He was brought to the Amarillo Territory from Tennessee by my father, Dory Funk Sr. Sputnik's mic skills, work in the ring and personality propelled him to top heel in the territory quickly.
 
Sputnik Monroe wrestled my brother, Terry Funk in Terry's debut match. Sputnik was our Western States Champion winning the belt from my father, Dory Funk Sr.
 
The measure of a wrestler's ability is his box office appeal. Sputnik drew huge crowds working with Myself, Terry, Ricky Romero, Dory Funk Sr., Tokyo Tom, Iron Mike Dibiase, The Sheik, Nelson Royal and Fritz Von Erich in the Amarillo Territory.
 
Sputnik Monroe will be remembered as one of the top heels in the Amarillo Territory during the late 60's and early 70's.

Dory Funk Jr. vs Sputnik Monroe

Dory Funk Jr. vs Sputnik Monroe

He was the best "Bump Man" in wrestling.

Dory Funk Sr.

Tough Love

Sputnik Monroe was dressed to the hilt, black suit, white shirt, and red tie. Around his waist was the Southern States Heavyweight Wrestling Championship Belt. Sputnik had won the belt the night before in a 16 man tournament in Memphis, Tennessee. Now he was celebrating with his friend, wrestler Greg Peterson. Sputnik had a few drinks and was at the state fair looking for attention and notoriety the best way he knew how. Sputnik was looking for a fight.

Sputnik headed straight for the booth featuring TV tough guy Gene Barry who at the time was playing the part of Bat Masterson. When Sputnik got there, he tried his best to get close to Gene Barry, but there were body guards and security all over the place. There was no way he would have a shot at Gene Barry.

Sputnik was juiced up and wanted to fight somebody, that's what he came here for. He looked around and found a cowboy and insulted him. The cowboy looked at Sputnik and said, "I know you, I watch you wrestle on TV all the time. I ain't going to fight you, your a professional wrestler, I wouldn't have a chance against you."

Not easily dissuaded, Sputnik insulted the cowboy's wife. The cowboy still wouldn't fight the great professional wrestler, Sputnik Monroe. He said, "You are just trying to sucker me into trying you. Your two tough for me."

Sputnik turned around and punched the cowboy's horse in the nose. In a second, the cowboy was all over Sputnik and a Hell of a fight broke out and was busted up by Memphis Police.

According to Sputnik, the only reason the cowboy got a lick on him was because cowboy blind sided him and he didn't expect it. Sputnik challenged the cowboy to come to the arena on Monday night and face him in the ring on TV. Sputnik could atone for his embarrassment at not kicking the cowboy's ass. The cowboy's answer came back. "I know Sputnik Monroe let me stay with him at the fair so he could sucker me into the ring in front of all the wrestling fans and humiliate me. No way I am not going to get in the ring with Sputnik Monroe, "He's to tough for me."

Sputnik went on to become a legend in professional wrestling in the Southeastern United States. Word of his success spread and my father asked Sputnik to come to the Amarillo Territory where he became one of the top box office attractions along with Sheik, Tokyo Tom, (Rey Urbano) Iron Mike Dibiase, and J.C. Dyckes' Infernos.

***

"You little punk kid, I am going to whup your ass like Borden House Pie, cause I'm a Diamond Ring and Cadillac Man and I am going to stay that way you little puke." Sputnik Monroe was psyching out my brother Terry Funk. Terry was fresh out of college after finishing a great football career at West Texas State University. This was his debut professional wrestling match.

Sputnik was old school and would make it tough as possible on young Terry Funk. It was a pressure night for Terry. I had already started a successful wrestling career. Our father, Dory Funk Sr. was a legend in professional wrestling. Terry's wife Vicki, and the whole West Texas State University football team along with a sell out crowd at the Amarillo Sports Arena turned out to see Terry's first match.

Terry was nervous from the start of the match and Sputnik took full advantage, taking him off his feet and rubbing his face in the mat. Sputnik was all over Terry as they rolled into the ropes. At the break, Terry came to his feet. His nose was spurting blood, maybe from a rough blow from Sputnik, and maybe just from the excitement and nervousness created by the pressure situation he was in.

Sputnik knew he had Terry buffaloed and continued to be the aggressor, taking Terry down to the mat again and showing him who was boss by riding him around the ring and generally roughing him up, especially in the face where blood continued to gush from Terry's nose. After about five minutes of this my father, Dory Funk Sr. came down to ringside and said, "@&*#@! you Terry, Get up off your ass and do something or I am going to kick your ass!!!" I heard him, the West Texas Football Team heard him, the wrestling fans heard him, my mother heard him. Terry for sure heard him!!!

It was like I have said before, Terry was a hell of a lot more afraid of his father than he was of Sputnik Monroe. Terry looked like a firecracker went off under his ass. He was up on his feet in half a second and attacked Sputnik with a series of football tackles, two dropkicks, and the spinning toe hold and the match was over.

Afterward in the dressing room, everyone was congratulating Terry for his victory in his debut match. My father just looked at him and if front of everybody said, "@&*#@! you Terry, you let Sputnik eat you alive." I could see tears well up in my brother's face. He didn't say a word because he knew what my father said to him was true. He would do a better job next time.

Terry and I came up in the business through a system where excellence was expected from the first time out. If we did something wrong, we were told about it in no uncertain terms. I guess they call it, "tough love." It is different love, but every bit as precious. Because of our training and because of the expectations of Dory Funk Sr., we have been better prepared for wrestling, and the bigger game, Life.

Thanks Dad,

And many thanks to that tough old bastard, Sputnik Monroe.

 

 E-Mail: fuanku@dory-funk.com

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