Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Kurt BrownMy debut match was set for July 23, 1983. Karl Lauer was running every other Saturday night in the City of Bell (L.A. urban outskirts) at the Azteca Boxing Gym. Iíve always been a total mark for ambience, so Azteca Gym came through in that department. It was a hip little downtown hole in the wall that seated about 200 people.
Karl and Pistol Pete
booked these shows with quite the motley crew of local talent. Green as
grass rookies like myself, seasoned locals like Hector Guerrero, Wildman
Jack Armstrong, Ric Drasin and Billy Anderson. Karl was new to the pro
wrestling biz, and had plenty to learn; but he recognized that Southern
Californiaís Latino luchadores were talented folks with a hard work
ethic, so he made certain to book several luchadores like Cosmos and
Angel de la Muerte on each show.
The only other hurdle I
had to jump was getting my license from the Athletic Commission. I had a
wicked case of anxiety at that thought, because while my cardio level
wasnít bad and I hit the weights, I wondered if I would pass a
physical with all the weight I packed on during the previous year.
Now--- I put on the
pounds for the obvious reason. Most promoters, whether small time or top
dog, went by that old adage that wrestling was a big manís game.
Thatís one area where I think the indie scene today is a vast
improvement over yesteryear. While Titan Sports still keep behemoths on
top, most independent groups I see these days are open minded when it
comes to pushing lighter wrestlers. And back in the 80s, most indie
promoters I met were complete marks for big men. If a bodybuilder walked
through the door, they thought they had an instant Hulkamania box office
attraction. Hefty bearded dudes looking ill from gout dropped by the
gym, and the indie promoters wanted to rush them on a show ASAP because
they had the next Haystack Calhoun. When the shows drew a heavily
papered crowd of 30, they would scratch their heads trying to figure why
the masses werenít swarming to see these wonders of physical culture.
I knew that no matter
how well I could work in the ring, nobody would take a second glance at
me if I was under the 180 pound mark. But thatís where my wisdom about
the matter ended.
I was completely naÔve thinking I could get that muscle-on-muscle look and be steroid free. The bodybuilding mags totally kayfaybed the steroid issue in those days, trying to sell it like healthy eating and dedication alone would build the pecs and biceps. I cringe to admit it, but I was the ultimate barbell mark. A fellow by the name of Hal Klein, a long time pro wrestling fan and high school football coach, trained me at Needhamís Gym. Hal had a very effective training routine for me. While he admired my drive to get pumped, he tactfully hinted from time to time that I could only go so far if I wanted to get the beefy rasslerí look. In the end, my arms looked really powerful, but the rest of my body looked pudgy. But Pete approved and said I looked like a wrestler, though when I looked in the mirror I saw Mr. Toad.More...