In Funk's Corner

Good Advice From Sailor Art Thomas

Corn Flakes

Sailor Art Thomas

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I was sitting in the Downtowner Hotel Cafe on Church Street in downtown Charlotte North Carolina.
My order was just a cup of coffee. It was 7:00am in the morning. It was just walking distance up the
street to a gym, just on the other side of a Greek Restaurant. The year was 1969 and only three weeks
earlier I had become NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Winning over Giant Gene Kiniski in Tampa,
Florida February 11, 1969. I had worked a week for Eddie Graham's Championship Wrestling from
Florida, a week in Tennessee for Nick Gulas and this week was in the Mid Atlantic Territory for Jim
Crockett Sr.

Advice from Eddie Graham was to establish credibility in a wrestling match first. Nick Gulas said, "Listen
Boy, I want you to go out there and punch, kick, stomp and fight. On my first day in Jim Crockett
Sr.'s office on Morehead street in Charlotte, He told me, "Just remember kid, you are our champion and
not a fu**ing recruiter for your father in the Amarillo Territory.

As those early thoughts of the NWA promoters ran through my head, I was staring out the plate glass
window when I noticed this huge black guy walking up the street. He turned and came into the coffee
shop. As he passed my table, he recognized me and introduced himself as Sailor Art Thomas. I invited him
to sit down and have a cup of coffee.

I knew of Sailor Art. He had worked a program several years earlier in the Amarillo Territory with
Iron Mike Dibiase. He was a muscle man before steroids. At that time, Sailor Art had the biggest
muscles in the business. He was about 6' 5" tall and was a cinch to draw on his first appearance if you
gave him a smash on TV, a chance to flex his muscles, the opportunity to exhibit his personality on TV,
and a good talking Heel to insult him. He was "Box Office."

Joe Louis was also working the territory for the week. Business was awesome with major stars on
each card. One of my matches that week was against Paul Jones with Joe Louis as special referee.
I was quite honored.

Sailor Art asked me where I was going so early in the morning. I told him the gym and made the
comment that is why I was only having coffee. I didn't like to work out or perform with food on
my stomach. It was an old habit. Sailor told me I should not work out on an empty stomach. He
recommended a light bowl of cereal and milk, corn flakes. I tried it and felt much better that morning
working out.

To this day, before working out I always eat something. Usually something light and most often a bowl
of corn flakes. For so many years every time I eat my corn flakes, I always think of Sailor Art Thomas.
I have told many friends about the meeting in Charlotte and His advice.

Sailor Art Thomas, wrestled all over North America and Japan during a 20 year career.
Yesterday, Sailor Art passed away at the age of 79.
He was one of the nicest men in wrestling.

Dory Funk Jr.

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