Kansas City Star – November 27, 1993
By Hearne Christopher Jr.
Two weeks ago today former pro wrestling star Rufus R. Jones went deer hunting.
“That was the first day of deer season,” says Brooksie Lloyd, Jones’ widow. “The first I knew of anything the officer was walking in to tell me the news.”
The big guy with the big heart died of an apparent heart attack.
“Super guy, everybody liked him,” says “Texas” Bob Geigel, a former area wrestler and promoter.
“Let me tell you about this guy. Rufus was a high-class guy. He was a person who didn’t know whether he was black or white. I imagine he knew when he looked in the mirror, but if he’d walk in a room and there were 20 people there – 10 black and 10 white – he wouldn’t necessarily walk over to the blacks. He was a person.”
A Who’s Who of old-time wrestlers attended Jones’ funeral. They included: Mike George, “Bulldog” Bob Brown, Roger “Nature Boy” Kirby, Tom Andrews (of the Medics tag team), Akio Sato, Betty Niccoli, Benny Ramirez (aka The Mummy) and Bruce Reed.
Jones leaves his widow, three daughters, a restaurant and the Ringside Social Club, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the needy.
Brooksie plans to continue the Ringside Bar and Restaurant at 23rd and Vine streets and the club.
“Everybody has been real supportive,” she says. “It’s not just one person – it’s everybody. I’ve even had people say if I wanted to do a memorial for him, I have their financial support. To tell you the truth, I would like to do one.
“They’re getting ready to put murals on the (restaurant) wall. The bowling team is doing to do that. They’re called the Body Slammers.”
Jones’ wrestling nicknames were “The Pork Chop” and “Freight Train.”
“He’d run over people,” Geigel says. “He’d head butt them and then knock ‘em down.”
As for pork chops, he “loved to cook and eat,” Brooksie says. “Everybody knew him for the wild game he would cook – he believed in feeding you.”
Those feeds ranged from spaghetti and meatballs with corn in it to hog heads. “It wasn’t a big thing to him, but everybody else made a big thing out of it,” says daughter Melaney of the hog heads. “They’d say, ‘Where’s the rest of the body?’”
Brooksie spent her first Rufus-less Thanksgiving in 30 years serving turkey dinners and champagne to people “in dire need” at the club.
Still “our thing was New Year’s,” she says. “Rufus said if hog jowls and black-eyed peas give you good luck, then steak ought to give you better luck. So we just had steak, steak, steak, steak, steak.”