The Legend of Dory Funk Sr.
Dory Funk Sr. - After a bloody battle with Fritz Von Erich in the first Texas Death Match
Joe Louis Dory Funk Sr., Jack Brisco
Joe Louis, "The Brown Bomber"
Dory Funk Sr.
Dory Funk Sr. and Whiskey, "FLYING MARE RANCH."
Blood was streaming from my father's head as he tried to regain his balance and come to his feet. A size twelve shoe caught him flush in the face knocking him down again. Dory Funk Sr. tried to fight back but his efforts were futile as big Frank Murdoch continued his ruthless assault.
As I watched this beating take place, every blow was as if it were happening to me and every time my father tried to fight back I was fighting with him inside my heart. I looked at my brother Terry. Tears streamed down his face. He was out of his seat and on the way to my father's side. Mother reached and grabbed him by his arm. I could see her give him the squeeze and pull him back to his seat. I was only 11 years old and Terry was 8, Mother was the boss.
We were at the sports arena in Amarillo, Texas. The event was professional wrestling. My father swung wildly at his opponent, the man they billed as the "Fabulous Texan." I twisted in my chair hoping and praying that he would not get hurt and could come back for victory.
The Fabulous Texan, Frank Murdoch slipped behind and reached for the sleeper hold. My father charged the turnbuckle in the corner of the ring. Murdoch crashed face first in to the corner and fell back into the ring. Dad reached to wipe his face so he could see better. Now his hand was covered in blood. He just stared at his bloody hand. My heart jumped and I nearly fell off my chair. I knew when Dad saw the blood he would go wild and so did the four thousand fans jammed into the Amarillo Sports Arena. They were going crazy cheering my father on to beat the hell out of Frank Murdoch.
Murdoch was back on his feet, but hesitated when he saw the look in dad's eyes. The crowd at the sports arena was going crazy. They knew when Dory Funk saw blood, something was going to happen soon. Murdoch moved in close. My father swung with all he had. You could hear the punch land and see the perspiration fly as dad connected with a right to Murdoch's chin. Dory Funk picked up the 6' 3" 250 pound Murdoch high over his head and slammed him to the mat to a roar of approval from the fans. Now Funk had Murdoch pinned in the corner landing blow after blow. There was so much excitement and so much noise that he didn't hear the referee telling him to stop it because Murdoch was caught in the ropes. In an effort to pull them apart, the referee grabbed Funk from behind. In a fit of anger, Dory turned and blasted the referee with a forearm to the chin.
It was all over, Dory Funk was disqualified and Frankie Hill Murdoch was the winner of the match.
The Battle between Dory Funk Sr. and Frankie Hill Murdoch was over. Most of the fans were gone and the clean-up crew was at work in the near empty arena.
Little Dickie Murdoch was throwing the ringside seat pads across the arena watching them sail toward the ring. Terry wanted to join him, but mother would not allow Terry to misbehave.
Little Dickie Murdoch was Misbehaving
The "Battle of the Night."
The next match of the night was about to come. I knew it, the clean-up crew knew it, and the few fans who stuck around to wish Dory Funk well knew it.
Wrestlers were paid by the promoter in accordance with how many rear ends they could put into an arena. In Amarillo, Texas my father, Dory Funk Sr. was the number one box office attraction. He usually had to fight for his money too. Tonight was no exception.
Dory Funk Sr. came out of the dressing room wearing a guaze patch covering the right side of his forehead. Dory stopped and spoke to the fans who were still there thirty minutes after the show was over. Then he walked through the gate that said "authorized personnel only" He went up the stairs to the office of the promoter, Dory Detton.
What followed was the damndest cussing and fighting you ever heard, accusations of thievery, stealing, and lying erupted. I could hear Promoter Detton say, "##@!$%, Funk this is a business not a sport." and I could hear Dad say, "##@!$%" Detton, I can beat any wrestler you have so that makes it a sport, and I can draw you money so I ##@!$% well deserve to be paid!!!"
In time everything was quiet. My father came down the stairs followed by Dory and Sally Detton. Everyone said hello and were nice as could be. It was just business.
(In 1953, 19 main events in Amarillo, Texas were Dory Funk Sr. vs Frankie Hill Murdoch all sellout crowds.)
Little Dickie Murdoch was in the audience that night. Here he is with my grandson, Sheldon Dustman.
We left the Amarillo Sports Arena and turned south on Tenth Avenue on the way to our favorite place to eat after the wrestling matches, the Playhouse Cafe, owned and operated by an old time wrestler, Joe Banaski. Joe was a former junior heavyweight champion. He had lost one eye from wrestling in old boxing rings. It was the rosin in the mat that caused his blindness. It was a quiet place where our family could escape the violent world we had just come from.
The Playhouse Cafe was small with only a bar and table area and a back room with four booths. Joe's wife Mabel worked in the kitchen and Joe was always there with a kind word for the customers. As our family entered the booth section, a man who was by himself said, "Well, Dory Funk, It sure is good to see you." Dad shook his hand and said hello as we took the booth behind him. As I passed the man looked at me and said, "Well, you must be Dory Funk Jr." Won't you join me for a soda as he grabbed my arm and pulled me into the booth.
He ordered a soda for me, I could see he was drinking whiskey. I noticed the bottle on the seat besides him and could smell the stench on his breath. Without introduction he just looked at me then said, "Now tell me boy howd yoo daddy do tonight?" I answered that Dad had lost his match tonight. He said, "c'mon son, yoo daddy is a better man than ole' Murdoch, Now tell me Frank Murdoch can't beat yoo daddy." I answered, yes he did. "Nooo yoo daddy just let ole Frank Murdoch win that match tonight, Little Dory, yoo daddy threw that match-------"
Mother was there quickly, She took my hand and led me to the adjoining booth where our family was sitting. Dad said, "What did he say to you.?" I answered, "He thought you let Murdoch win tonight." Dad was out of our booth and confronting the man behind us. When Dory Funk Sr. was mad everyone knew.
The top of his head got red and fire came to his eyes. Dory Funk Sr. grabbed him by the front of his shirt and said, "*%$#@!*% if you want to ask me something about my business, speak to me, not to my son. You $#@!*%, If you want to insult someone talk to a man, not a kid, You $#@!*%," Bam!! Smack!! I could hear the noise of the blows landing.
Now Joe Banaski and several other people I didn't know were pulling my father off of the man in the next booth. I could see blood coming out of his nose and mouth. Others hurried the man out of the Playhouse cafe as my father was yelling, "get that $#@!*% out of here before I beat the hell out of him."
After all the commotion, Joe Banaski came back to the table and apologized. Dad was still upset. Mother looked up from the menu at Joe and said, "Chicken fried steak for the kids, corned beef sandwich for me and a T-bone steak for Dory, medium rare."
Learn the "Real Wrestling Business"
Wrestling School Information
Dory Funk Sr. and Sparky on the Flying Mare Ranch (Umbarger, Texas)
Dory Funk Sr. served in the United States Navy. Check the tattoo above his right ankle. He was always watching me even when he was asleep.
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