Awesome Men Throughout History: Terry Funk
As we all know, I am a huge fan of professional wrestling, and have been watching it for most of my life. Yet somehow, I haven’t written up too many pro wrestlers for Awesome Men Throughout History. The reason for that, I think, is because a lot of professional wrestlers are kind of sad. The bulk of them are either dirtbags (Hulk Hogan), recovering dirtbags (Jake Roberts, Scott Hall), broke (Ric Flair, Greg Valentine, Wrestling Superstar Virgil), or dead.
Luckily, there are a few guys who’ve managed to avoid those undesirable outcomes, and one of them is this week’s subject: Terry Funk.
To start, Terry Funk is insanely tough. He was born into wrestling; both his father Dory and his brother Dory Jr. (who perpetually looks like he just woke up from a nap) were wrestlers, and the family ran a small promotion in their hometown of Amarillo, TX despite frequent traveling and living on the road. Dory Sr. was widely considered one of the toughest wrestlers of his generation, and he passed that trait down to both his sons.
In Barry Blaustein’s Beyond The Mat, Terry—who was 53 at the time—saw a doctor about his aching knees, and was told that he had basically worn down the cartilage in both of them and needed surgery. The doctor was visibly taken aback by the fact that Terry could walk without intense pain. Terry politely refused the surgery and wrestled for Extreme Championship Wrestling that night without complaint.
The other thing about Terry is that he is completely out of his mind. He was always the wild child of his family, even before he got into wrestling; he once stole a box of grenades from a local National Guard armory and threw them around his dad’s backyard to liven up a Fourth of July barbecue.
As a wrestler, he was a gifted performer who could wrestle or brawl as the situation demanded, and his interviews were classics. Since he was often a villain, Funk made sure he pissed off the fans to the point where they’d pay money to see him get beaten up. Sometimes this meant pouring motor oil on his head to simulate being a “Florida cracker.”
And other times it meant insulting fans in Puerto Rico until they threw bottles and rocks at him.
For an example of his toughness and craziness working together, look no further than Funk, already at an age where most men can’t get through a game of rec league basketball without pulling something, taking on Mick “Cactus Jack” Foley in a explosive barbed wire board match back in 1995.
These days, Funk is 68, retired, and could probably still kick my ass, which is why he’s this week’s Awesome Man Throughout History.
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.