|The two most prestigious wrestling titles in American history|
(That I own... besides maybe the YouTube Belt)
I love entertaining people. It's what I do. From radio, to stand-up comedy, to touring as a professional musician, acting and beyond, I have made my livelihood... for most of my life, by entertaining people. I liked every creative avenue... but... I get bored easily. I like to conquer things and then move on. It's a curse. But then... there was pro wrestling. I can't explain why, but this was the one creative outlet that sated my entertainment appetite holistically. It has also been the hardest for me to master... because I haven't mastered it yet... and I'm not even close. I never will be close. As my body ages, I know my in ring career has seen its better days. Even today, as I curled a 45 lb. dumbbell, my right knee popped, making me almost collapse to the floor. My first thought was... five years from now I would have head butted the secretary next to me (it's a type of desk, not a mini skirt wearing, note taker).
I like wrestling because I can grab my boobs
aggressively at a real life drag queen and get
paid to do it
Pro wrestling in my area is in a lull. Most of my friends are either too old to wrestle, decided to move on to new things, or have been ostracized by pro wrestling's politics and are reduced to wrestling at campgrounds and ball fields in the direct sun in front of 45 people. Angles, promos, vignettes, memorable events, rivalries, and the mass appeal of the local sport seems to be all but a waning memory nowadays... with very few exceptions. So as I have been taking a calculated rest, only accepting out of state bookings that make fiscal sense, I have been looking back nostalgically at my experiences in the sport. One thing in particular that I have often took for granted: How the hell do I have Hulk Hogan's missing title sitting on my bookshelf?
In 2013, I received a phone call from a casual friend. He, himself, was an odd fixture in the sport of wrestling. He was definitely a smart guy and very friendly, and he always seemed to be in the middle of very interesting drama. We both knew a fellow wrestling personality, one that almost everyone despised. A name many people recognize in East Tennessee: Terry Landell.
You see... Terry Landell, for better or worse, has been the one constant in East Tennessee wrestling since the glory days of Ron and Don Wright, Whitey Caldwell, and then later Southeastern and Continental faded away. And after being in this sport for almost ten years, I have realized that Terry is as much of a genius as he is a complete moron. Giving Terry any sort of credit is almost blasphemy with the boys around here. You see, between his painfully, unintentionally hilarious call in shows... where he squints and struggles to see what is going on his cellphone on live TV, and where almost seemingly out of boredom, he stands up and nonsensically yells “WHO'S YOUR DADDY??”, and the fact that he runs shows in abandoned parking lots and dumps, he has become a joke, and in my opinion, hurt the sport in the eyes of potential fans. He even changed his name to get himself over more by pretending he was related to Nature Boy Buddy Landel. From what I understand Buddy never liked this. And like the buffoon Terry is... he even MISSPELLED the name Landell.
|Funkmaster V with hot chick, hot belt|
and a giant afro with Christmas lights
To win you over more, there is Terry's behavior: He also runs charity shows, like Toys for Tots, and takes the best stuff for his own personal uses. Or, he will set up across the street in a parking lot, running free matches against people trying to have a wrestling show to raise money for Junior diabetes... just to be a dick and to cost them money. But as much as we hate him, he has figured out some things about the sport that most wayfaring wrestlers never quite figure out: how to make real money. He has figured out ways to hustle bail bond companies to pay for his pretty poorly thought out wrestling shows. So, he actually earns a pretty good living at running shows. Meanwhile, most people I know are lucky to break even. Also, he understands the “Law of Celebrity”. Everyone who has ever drawn a check from the government that lives in Knoxville knows Terry Landell... and they hate him... real heat... and there is a certain power in that and he loves it. But sometimes that bites him in the butt... like this story.
How does this all apply to this belt? Here's how...
Going back to the phone call, my friend told me this: “Hey, there is this old belt a friend of mine found... and we don't know what it is. It’s pretty beat up, and it looks like there is some water damage to it. We think it's the belt that Ronnie Garvin threw off of the Henley Street Bridge... so it’s got some history to it. Terry Landell offered to pay him $250 for it, and if his cheap ass is willing to pay that much, it has to be worth a lot more.”
My friend continued, “The guy asked me who he hated more than anyone, and that he would rather sell it to an enemy for less than to Terry himself for $250. I told him Funkmaster V.”
Now Terry and I have never met, but we both hosted really bad TV call-in shows on cable access at the same time. He would call in and prank me, or book Cowboy Bob Orton against a fake Funkmaster V on his shows... to.. I guess... slander me, but I never really did anything to him. I didn't care about Terry, I had bigger fish to fry.
Now... I'm a Yankee, so I can spot a street hustle from a mile away... but I wanted to get one over on Terry... even if there was a chance that I was the pigeon in this. I told the guy to come over and he soon would be belt-less. He did... and he was. I had this crappy looking belt in my house now for less than $250.
Mac MacMurray and the belt
from Hogan's first Knoxville
match he refereed
It was cool but I didn't know what I had. For years, I asked the old timers in the sport for their opinions on what I stumbled onto. I was told immediately that it wasn't the Ronnie Garvin bridge jumping belt. I was told several times that the belt was probably worthless. You see, wrestlers for the most part, are degenerates. Most are about making a sweaty dollar bill over being a decent person any day of the week. So I was given a lot of misinformation about the belt for years. That was until one day I reposted the belt as a joke on Facebook.
One of my associates, a belt maker, wanted to see more.
I was quickly given an education about belts. For one, as I said... most wrestlers and promoters are degenerates and that also means cheap. Championship belts were used until they totally looked like complete crap and could no longer be seen on TV... because it would look like something no one in their right mind would want, so why fight over it? So this accounts for the belt's poor condition. There were also no replica belts in the 70s. If you go to a WWE event nowadays, every kid has a belt in the stands... and they look pretty good, to be honest... but back in the 70s, this was unheard of.
|See? I didn't lie! Mac, Hogan, and the belt.|
So after my associate and his contemporary in the business looked at the belt, they came to the conclusion that this is the one belt that Hulk Hogan held, that has been missing for years and years: One of the Southeastern Heavyweight Championship belts based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. Surprisingly enough to the casual fan, Hogan never won many belts, especially for being the face of the sport for so long. During much of his career he was the WWF champion for years and never lost a title fight. And he officially only held two championships that were not World championships... this being one of them.
Cool right? Guess what is cooler? Kamala, Four Horseman Ole Anderson, Dennis Condrey of the Midnight Express and a cavalcade of other wrestling heroes held this belt. And who owned this Knoxville promotion (and technically the title belt) at the time? Have you ever heard of Black Jack Mulligan and Nature Boy Ric Flair???
So it looks like I got one over on my old pal Terry. I used to lie and tell everyone that the guy who found it gave this belt to me for free to spite Terry, so that it would hopefully get back to old Boobs Landell. But now that I know what I know, I am not ashamed to say that I actually paid for it.
So... as cool as owning a piece of history like this is... I am eventually going to sell the thing to someone who would appreciate it more. But it won't be for $250 and it won't be to Terry Landell. Maybe it will be you! But more than likely, I hear Japanese ebay calling... But at the end of the day, I'm glad we found this really cool piece of history and hopefully someone can enjoy it for years and years...
As for me... I'm going to go record a song about how AJ Gann's ex-wife was molested by a ghost.... and she liked it.
Here's the Title History of this particular physical belt:
|Here is my formerly missing Southeastern Championship Wrestling belt. (active July 79 to 1981)|
Here's the Title History of this particular physical belt:
|Dick Slater||1||July 1979|
|Mongolian Stomper||9||August 3, 1979||Knoxville, TN|
|Dick Slater||2||August 1979||?|
|Toru Tanaka||2||November 1979||?|
|Dick Slater||3||November 1979||?|
|Bob Roop||1||December 1979||?|
|Sterling Golden (Hogan)||1||December 1, 1979||Knoxville,TN|
|Bob Armstrong||1||January 1980||?|
|Killer Karl Kox||1||March 1980||?|
|Jos LeDuc||1||March 1980||?|
|Killer Karl Kox||2||March 1980||?|
|Ole Anderson||1||March 30, 1980|
|Killer Karl Kox||3||May 1980||?|
|Bad News Harris (Kamala)||1||May 1980||?|
|Terry Taylor||1||1980||Knoxville, TN|
|Dennis Condrey||1||1980||Knoxville, TN|
|Mongolian Stomper||10||October 1980||?|