Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Mike Norris
I grew up in Mobile, Alabama and discovered Professional Wrestling through the Lee Fields promotion of Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling in 1970. I continued to follow this promotion until its shut down in 1978 and eventual sale of the territory to Ron Fuller’s Southeastern Championship Wrestling group from Knoxville, Tennessee (my friend Mike Calloway writes an excellent column on this group).
an introduction to the Gulf Coast promotion, I will provide some
background of the territory before Lee Fields bought in 1959, as well as
some discussion of the territory before I came familiar with it in 1970.
Fuller (Edward Welch), father of Ron and Robert Fuller, began promoting
wrestling in Mobile, Alabama in the early 1950s. This area covered the
Gulf Coast region of Alabama and northeastern Florida. Buddy was of
course a member of the famous Welch wrestling family. In 1954, Buddy’s
cousin Lee Fields came to Mobile after wrestling in Oklahoma. He brought
along his brothers Don and Bobby, as well as their father Virgil
“Speedy” Hatfield. The Fields Brothers were the main draws in the
first Gulf Coast Heavyweight Champion was crowned in May of 1957, after
a 14 man tournament. Eduardo Perez defeated Lee Fields in the final
match to become the first champion. Others to hold the title in the late
50s were Mario Galento, Billy Wicks, Yvon Roberts, Lee Fields and Buddy
1959, Buddy Fuller sold the Gulf Coast territory to Lee Fields, who took
over as promoter. Lee also relinquished the Gulf Coast title because it
was determined by the Alabama Boxing and Wrestling commission that he
could not promote and remain an active wrestler. Lee
did remain active as a wrestler in other parts of the Southern
U.S., such as Florida, Georgia and Tennessee until retiring as an active
competitor in the late 1960s. Brothers Bobby and Don helped run the
Mobile booking office covering Mobile and Pensacola, Florida. As Lee
expanded the territory, father Speedy Hatfield served as matchmaker in
Hattisburg, Mississippi and Rocky McGuire was the matchmaker in Dothan,
Alabama and Panama City, Florida.
Gulf Coast championship was held at various times during this period by
Mario Galento, Billy Wicks, Joe Scarpa (Chief Jay Strongbow), Jose “El
Gran” Lothario, Pnaco Villa, Chief Little Eagle w/mgr. Bull Williams,
Dr. Jerry Graham, “Dynamite” Dick Dunn, Rocket Monroe, Billy “
Boy” Hines, Mickey Sharpe, Jan Madrid, Don Duffy, Ken Lucas, Mighty
Blue Yankee (Curtis Smith), Chin Lee, Don Carson, “Dangerous” Danny
McShain, Ramon Torres,
Eduardo Perez, Greg Peterson, Flash Monroe, Ox Baxer, Bobby Fields,
Silento Rodriguez and Jose Villa.
United States Tag Team Title was recognized in the area for a time in
the mid 60s. The most renowned title holders being The Dirty Daltons,
Jack (Don Fargo) and Frank (Gene Stevens). The Gulf Coast Tag Team
title was held variously during this time by “Cousins” Roger Kirby
& Dennis Hall, Don & Ron (Dick Murdoch) Carson, Ken Lucas &
Bobby Fields, Rip & Randy Tyler, The Interns (Bill Bowman and Joe
Turner), Eddie Sullivan & Ramon Perez, Don Carson & Dick Dunn,
Rocket & Flash Monroe and Ken & Chris Lucas.
Alabama Heavyweight title was also recognized by the Gulf Coast
promotion. Wrestlers that held this tile included Gene Madrid, Don
Fields, Black Hand (Joe Turner), Ken Lucas, Rocket Monroe, Billy
“Boy” Hines and Bob Boyer.
active wrestlers in the territory during the 60s were Jimmy “Bad
Boy” Hines, Bob Armstrong, Matt Jewel, Sam Jones, Maurice Chaville,
Pancho “Gypsy Joe” Rosario, Cowboy Bob Kelly and Golden Boy Ron
will start with the year I became aware of Gulf Coast Championship
Wrestling, 1970. The year Cowboy Bob Kelly came into his own as the most
popular wrestler ever in the territory and the arrival of the man who
became the most hated, Mr. Personality, Bobby Shane.
In preparation of this column, my thanks go out to David Williamson, Scott Teal, Royal Duncan and Gary Will.