The Blade – June 28, 1992
Wrestler’s 24-year career included stint as world champion
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Buddy “Nature Boy” Rogers, a world champion wrestler who finished his 24-year career with a win in a 1983 exhibition tag-team match, died from complications of two massive strokes this week. He was 71.
Mr. Rogers, who underwent a quadruple heart bypass several years ago, went into a coma following the two strokes Monday, according to his brother-in-law, Dave Ludwigsen.
Mr. Rogers died late Friday at Holy Cross Hospital.
“Frankly, if you saw him on the beach two weeks ago, he looked like a man of 50,” Mr. Ludwigsen said. “That was Buddy, he was full of life.”
Mr. Rogers, who grew up in Camden, N.J., moved to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea after his 1983 retirement. He held the World Wrestling Association championship belt from June, 1961, to May, 1963, and invented the so-called “Figure Four Grapevine” hold.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wrestler grappled toe-to-toe with the likes of “Killer” Kowalski and Pat O’Connor, whom he beat in front of 42,000 fans in Chicago.
In July, 1989, he needed 14 stitches but came out a winner in a fight at a sandwich shop with a 29-year-old-man. The fellow customer was loudly swearing at shop employees and refused Mr. Rogers request to quiet down, calling him an old man and challenging him.
“Hell,” Mr. Rogers later said, “I’m only 68. That’s not so old.”