Gordy’s Wrestling Legacy Remembered

Chattanooga Times-Free Press – July 20, 2001
By Stump Martin

Professional wrestling fans across the world said good-bye to Rossville’s Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy Thursday.

The gentle giant died Monday at 40 at his home in Soddy-Daisy from a blood-clot induced heart attack. He was buried Thursday at the Tennesssee/Georgia Memorial Park.

Family, friends and fans said they will never forget the 6-foot-4, 285-pound wrestler and how he made it from his humble beginnings on Carden Avenue in Rossville to stardom as one of the top professional wrestlers of all time.

“Terry Gordy was the original wrestling big man,” wrestling fan Ron Hall said. “At one time Terry was the most recognized person from the Chattanooga area. You have to put him up there with Reggie White and Rick Honeycutt in the money he made as an athlete.”

Wrestling experts said Gordy was a child phenom. He started his career at 13 years old as half of the masked Scavengers tag team with Rossville businessman Eddie Griffin. They wrestled together at the old WRIP television studios on Ellis Road in Rossville and traveled the outlaw wrestling circuit together.

Griffin had talked to Gordy recently about managing him in a comeback.

Griffin said he had contacted Dusty Rhodes about booking Gordy, and he was going to help him get back in shape.

“I’ll miss Terry’s friendship,” Griffin said. “Losing Terry was like losing a friend, brother and a son. He went from being a poor boy in Rossville to being a rich man. There was times I envied him.”

Gordy’s one-armed Uncle J.D. Kile, known to most as Captain Hook, took Terry under his wing and taught him the ropes.

The talented athlete may have gone on to become a star in football or baseball, in both of which he excelled as a youngster, but Kile had a different vision.

Rossville High School football coach Lynn Murdock said Gordy “could have been a heck of a football player,” but he dropped out of school after his freshman year.

The retired coach said a college coach came to recruit a couple of his players and noticed Gordy as a freshman slinging weights around the weight room.

“The coach said he would be back to see him,” Murdock said. “He was big and strong and he could run.”

But when Murdock went to see Kile about getting him back in school he was told he wouldn’t be back.

“J.D. told me Terry wasn’t going to play anymore football,” the coach said. “He said in a year he would be making more money than me and by the next year he would make more than a $100,000 a year.”

That soon came true for the teenager who would go on to hold World Titles in the NWA, WCW, Japan, Mid-South and too many wrestling federations to name.

Gordy wrestled professionally in front of packed arenas from Madison Square Garden to Tokyo. And it was he and partners Michael “P.S.” Hayes and Buddy Roberts who are credited with changing professional wrestling as the dynamic tag team of the Free Birds.

Hayes said when he and Gordy first started traveling together they were 16 and 17 years old.

“I think we revolutionized the wrestling industry,” said Hayes, now a commentator with the WWF. “We changed the way wrestling was shaped. When we first came out to music nobody had done that.”

“When we asked promoter Nick Gulas if we could do it, I”ll never forget it, he said, ‘Are you boys taking them marijuana pills again?”‘

The Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Freebird” soon became the trademark of the World Championship tag-team.

“I told Terry this is the song we can all bond to,” Hayes said. “Terry and I had a special bond. And we knew we had made it together when we set a record wrestling in front of more than 50,000 fans in Texas Stadium in 1984.”

Gordy was recently selected as No. 81 of the top 100 wrestlers of all-time in a ranking by “Wrestling Rewind” magazine. His name appeared ahead of such greats as Arn Anderson, Paul Orndorff, Junkyard Dog, Scott Steiner, Nikita Koloff, Wahoo McDanial, Ron Simmons, Wildfire Tommy Rich, Jerry Jarrett and Ernie “Big Cat” Ladd.

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