"Hey, You cheated the bear"
Dory Funk Sr. Dory Funk Jr. - Coach of the Funking Conservatory
In the summer of 1964, The Amarillo territory was on fire. I was in my second year of wrestling. The Sheik was the top heel. He was supported with great talent. Wahoo McDanial was playing football with the New York Jets in the fall. In the winter he would join us working the Amarillo Territory.
Sputnik Monroe, Killer Karl Kox, Dick Steinborne, Ricky Romero, Mike Dibiase, Louis Martinez, Sir Nelson Royal, Dan Miller, Jose Lothario, Gorgeous George Jr., and The Dalton Brothers were some of the great workers in the territory along with my father, Dory Funk Sr and myself.
At a meeting of the wrestlers in the Amarillo Territory, My Father, Dory Funk Sr. was speaking. "Fellas, business is good and I thank all of you for your hard work. We have an opportunity to make our business even better. I got a call from Tuffy Truesdale and his bear, Victor will be available to work the territory for two weeks. We are going to book him as the meanest bear ever. He is seven feet tall and booked properly, "Man Against Beast," he will draw lots of money. What I need to know is, Who wants to wrestle the bear?"
My father's question was met with complete silence.... He said, "Killer Karl Kox, how about you. You will draw nothing but money with the bear." Kox responded, "Funk, don't even consider me getting in the ring with no *#@!%~ bear. He asked The Sheik? His manager, Jack Cain answered, "Sheik don't speak English" He askid his friend, Iron Mike Dibiase? "Funk, You know me better than that. I didn't spend my life in wrestling so I could wrestle a bear." "Nelson Royal?" "Aaaaggghhhh!" Nelson just screamed. Sputnik Monroe jumped up and said, "Boss, I would eat that bear up like borden house pie and the fans would think I was practicing animal cruelty so I don't think it is a good idea." Dory Sr said, "Alright, Alright, I can see nobody wants to wrestle the bear, but we are going to draw money in spite of you guys. I am going to book an "Over the Top Rope, Bear Battle Royal" in Amarillo and everyone can wrestle Victor The Bear."
When the meeting was over, I got the sign from my father to stick
around. After everyone was gone, he said, "Dunk, (My nickname) What is
the matter with you. You should have been the first one to stand up and
volunteer to wrestle the bear. Show them how tough you are." I said, "But
dad, I don't know why I should have to wrestle a bear---. Dad said, "You
should be the leader of this group. Why would you be afraid of a bear?"
I was more afraid of my father than I was of the bear, so I took the first
booking in Abilene Texas against Victor The Bear..
Victor The Alaskan Black Bear
Victor stood taller than me and weighed at least 450 pounds. Bears are natural wrestlers. They protect their back and always face you. Moving behind him was difficult as he would block with his powerful arms. I reached for his leg and he held my head and executed a perfect monkey flip. I ducked under his arm and went behind the bear. Victor reached back grabbed my head and gave me a flying mare. I had him down once so what next, The spinning toe hold. Impossible but everyone got a kick out of it. Victor got me down for a near fall, I kicked out on the count of two, and the people loved it.
Understand, a bear doesn't give up and you can't pin his shoulders, so after 15 minutes, the match was a draw, Tuffy Trusdale came into the ring and gave Victor a coke and I shook the bear's hand. It was hard to reach around the paw but Victor was happy and so was I.
In Amarillo Texas the advance was great and we expected a sellout. On Wednesday, the day before the show, the office received a message from the Texas Game and Fish Commission that Victor was an Alaskan Black Bear and a protected game animal. We were informed that an Alaskan Black Bear could not wrestle in Amarillo.
My father was not to be denied. He called Gorgeous George Jr. and told him to go down town and get a dozen cans of brown hair spray and bring it Thursday night. "We're going to book, "Boris, the Russian Brown Bear."
I was standing in the ring with twelve wrestlers waiting for Boris
the Russian Brown Bear to come into the ring. There was a commotion from
the back. Out came a mad, Lady Clairol freshly sprayed Russian brown bear
that resembled Victor. He was growling, snorting, and swatting at his trainer.
I don't think he liked the smell of hair spray all over his coat.
Boris the Russian Brown Bear
The bear came in the ring with a deep guttural roar. He swatted his manager, knocking him down then, breaking away from his leash. He chased every wrestler out the ring before the start of the match. With everyone on the floor, the bear walked around the ring and pissed a gallon of urine all over the mat.
When the wrestlers returned to the ring, the match was started.. The Sheik pulled the hair on the bear's ass. Boris, aka Victor, thought Wahoo did it and took off after him. Wahoo and Jack Cain tried to jump out of the ring at the same time to escape Boris. The ropes sprung back throwing Jack off balance. He landed head first on the floor and the top of his bald head was bleeding when he came back into the ring.
Victor cleaned house until my father gave me the signal. I started undoing the ropes at the top turnbuckle, then the middle and finally the bottom turnbuckle. We dropped the ropes down on the mat then Dad and I pushed the Bear out of the ring. (Over the top rope) We won the Over Top Rope Battle Royal.
As we were leaving the ring I could hear some of the fans yelling, "Hey, that's not fair, you cheated the bear."
The last night of the Bear's trek through the Amarillo Territory
was in Abilene Texas. Louis Martinez made the mistake of trying to grab
the bear by the muzzle. Louis's finger slipped in behind the muzzle and the bear clamped down with his molars. Louis was trapped. The
bear crunched down and the end of Louis' finger was gone. Victor just sat in the middle of the ring chewing on the finger. Then, he
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