AWA #26 Page #2
Among the wrestlers Bockwinkel faced in the latter portion of 1955 and the first half of 1956 were Joe Blanchard, Tom Rice, Ted Christy, Wild Red Berry, John Swenski, Lee Henning, John Tolos, Cyclone Anaya (Cyclone Negro), Sandor Szabo, Jerry Christy and Rito Romero. Wrestling Title Histories lists Nick Bockwinkel as the Los Angeles Beat The Champ TV titleholder during late 1955. Nick reportedly won the title from Cowboy Rocky Valentine (Johnny Valentine) and lost the title to Rocky Brown. The exact date of these matches are not known. They probably happened in late 1955 or early 1956.
In June of 1956 during his summer break from college, Bockwinkel ventured to midwestern cities such as St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee to ply his trade. Nick lost to the more established stars like The Sheik of Araby (Ed Farhat), Hans Schmidt and Angelo Poffo but beat the lesser pushed grapplers such as Bozo Brown, Duke Demetri and Hans Hermann. After completing his stint in the midwest, Nick returned to southern California during September of 1956 to continue his schooling and professional wrestling career. For the next nine months, Nick worked exclusively as a babyface gaining valuable experience against the likes of Sandor Kovacs, Ray "Thunder" Stern, Lord James Blears, Sandor Szabo, Billy Varga, Roy Shire, Don Arnold, Shag Thomas and Lou Thesz. Once July of 1957 rolled around, Bockwinkel traveled to Texas on his summer break from college. Nick spent two months in Texas facing such wrestlers as Johnny Valentine, Bull Curry, Joe Blanchard, Duke Keomuka, Ike Eakins and Fritz Von Ulm. Once his stay in Texas was over, it was back to California for Bockwinkel. Nick finished 1957 competing in the Los Angeles area.
In 1958 the life of Nick Bockwinkel took another turn. After finishing his education at UCLA, Nick was drafted into the army. He was stationed at Fort Ord in Monterey, California. During his two year stint in the army, Bockwinkel occasionally wrestled using the names Nick Warren and Dick Warren. In fact under the alias Nick Warren, Bockwinkel and Ramon Torre defeated Hans Hermann and Art Neilson to capture the NWA World Tag Team Titles (San Francisco version) on April 28th, 1958 in Sacramento, California. Nick and Ramon traded the tag straps with Hombre Montana and Tiny Mills during June and July of 1958 before dropping the tag titles for good to Gene DuBuque (Magnificent Maurice) and Mike Valentino (Baron Scicluna) on August 23rd, 1958 in Fresno, California. Nick wrestled Buddy Rogers twice in September of 1958 losing both times. Bockwinkel continued to wrestle sporadically for the rest on 1958 and all of 1959 due to his army commitment.
1960 saw Nick keep using aliases even after he got out of the army. He was billed under the name Nick Bock in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Detroit, Michigan during early 1960 and faced top wrestlers of that era including Bill Mller, Joe Blanchard and Angelo Poffo. In Omaha, Nebraska on July 23rd, 1960, Nick as the masked Phantom faced Omaha World Champion Doctor X (Bill Miller) and battled Doctor X to a draw. Bockwinkel sans mask but billed as Nick "The Phantom" Bockwinkel lost a World title match to Doctor X two weeks later in Omaha. Bockwinkel also wrestled Killer Kowalski, Dick the Bruiser, The Sheik (Ed Farhat) and Freddie Blassie during 1960. It's interesting to note whichever identity Nick used whether it be Nick Bock, The Phantom or Nick Bockwinkel, the caliber of wrestlers he was facing was among the best in the world.
Special thanks to George Schire, publisher of The Champion's Name Is Bockwinkel as well as AWA historian Jim Melby and Royal Duncan and Gary Will, publishers of Wrestling title Histories.
Bockwinkel during the Sixties.
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