Atlanta Journal – June 2, 1963
By Wayne Thompson
When Lou Thesz, like Liberty Valance, comes into town – more aptly the wrestling arena – most men step aside.
The 48-year-old St. Louis native has been wrestling for almost 30 years, a champion. In fact, he still is the champion – of the world, in fact.
Thesz makes one of his few title defenses here next Friday night as part of a mammoth wrestling card at Ponce de Leon Park.
He has drawn a mountain of a man in Dick the Bruiser, the former Purdue and Green Bay Packer football player who retired Alex Karras from aspirations of a ring career in 11 minutes.
A total fo 22 wrestling stars will grapple under the stars at the Cracker ballpark next Friday night at 8:30 p.m. A total of nine matches are set, with the Thesz-Bruiser go topping the agenda.
Thesz, who won back his heavyweight championship against Buddy Rogers in Toronto earlier this year, figures to be the favorite, but sentiment enters the picture.
As a scientific wrestler and exponent of the headlock and flying body scissors there’s none better than this man, who is rated by some as the finest grappler who ever entered a ring.
But he’s seen his prime, years ago. He’s still in excellent physical shape, a stunning 6-4, 225-pounds of lean muscle, but he will be facing a specimen of 6-0, 245 pounds who thinks nothing of throwing chairs, referees or any other prop available at opponents to gain victory.
This specimen is Dick the Bruiser, Dick Afflis to football fans, a wild bull who put down controversial, 250-pound Alex Karras after a barroom brawl. In fact, brawls of that nature are up the Bruiser’s alley and he’s at home in unrestricted altercations.
Thesz, who learned his wrestling from the granddaddy of them all, Ed (Strangler) Lewis, now 70, but once the king of the mat, is recognized by the National Wrestling Alliance as their champion. The Bruiser is a fifth-ranked contender for that title.
A host of wrestling promoters will converge on Atlanta for this NWA-sanctioned match, a best two-out-of-three fall, one hour time limit affair. Sam Muchnick, commissioner of the NWA, will fly in from St. Louis, along with Johnny Doyle, Detroit promoter, Jim Barnett of Indianapolis, Fred Kohler of Chicago, Jim Crockett of Charlotte, Roy Welch and Nick Gulas of Nashville, and possibly Cowboy Luttrall of Tampa.
Such wrestling names as Ray Gunkel, Corsica Joe, The Hillbillies, Bulldog Lawley, Lenny Montana, Tarzan Tyler, Dick Steinborn, Bill Dromo, Chief Little Eagle, Daryl Cochran, Tito Kopa of Argentina, Chris Averoff of Athens, Greece, Dolly Darcel, Baby Cheryl, Sweet Georgia Brown and Atlanta’s own Betty Ann Spencer will make up the all-star card.
At least 2,000 ringside seats will be available at Poncey for $3.50 each. General admission or regular ballpark seats will be $2.25 and $1 for children.