Crowbar Press

BRISCO: The Life and Times of JACK BRISCO
BRISCO: The Life and Times of JACK BRISCO

Kindle edition: 287 pages

Publisher: Crowbar Press

Item #: cbp17-jb-kindle

Price: $9.99

BRISCO print edition
BRISCO: The Life and Times of JACK BRISCO

BRISCO print edition

Synopsis  |  Excerpts  |  Chapter Titles  |  Reviews  |  Crowbar Press

  Few people in history have made their mark in more than one field, but Jack Brisco was a three-time champion in three different walks of life.
AMATEUR WRESTLING Ė NCAA heavyweight champion in the 191-lb. class in 1964.
PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING Ė National Wrestling Alliance world heavyweight champion from 1973 through 1975.
HUMAN BEING Ė He set the standard for what people should aspire to be ó humble, honest, and sincere.

  Raised in Blackwell, Oklahoma, Jack grew up as a fan of professional wrestling.  In 1965, he won the NCAA national wrestling championship in the 191 lb. class.  He had his first professional match when he wrestled Ronnie Garvin on television in Oklahoma City on May 15, 1965.

  During the next twenty years, he was regarded as one of the top names in the wrestling business.  He won both the Southern and Florida heavyweight titles during his time in Florida (among many other titles) and took the NWA world heavyweight title from Harley Race in Houston on July 20, 1973.  Later, he and his brother, Jerry Brisco, became top draws in Florida, Georgia and the Mid-Atlantic territories.

  Jack and Jerry bought into the Georgia Championship Wrestling company and were responsible for convincing other shareholders to sell their shares to Vince McMahon, setting into motion Vince's dominance of the wrestling world.

  This book is Jack's life story.  It includes all the background details from his rise to super-stardom to his quiet retirement at a young age.  Just the background stories of how he came to win the various titles he held are worth more than the price of the book.

  This is the second edition of "BRISCO: The Life and Times of National Collegiate and World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion JACK BRISCO."  It includes updated information and is a testament to the life and times of a great man who lived life with humility and class.

  Itís a timeless question that can never be answered Ö at least without a debate.  Who is the greatest professional wrestler of all time?
  Itís akin to asking, "Who was the greatest running back to ever tote the pigskin in the National Football League?"  Or, "Who was the greatest pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball?"  Conundrums all.
  For me, Jack Brisco ranks as the chairman of the board of amateur-wrestling-greats-turned-pro, a list that includes the likes of my boyhood hero, the incomparable Sooner, Dan Hodge, Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, and NCAA and UFC champion Brock Lesnar.
  "Brisco" is the story of a Native Americanís rise from humble Oklahoma beginnings to worldwide stardom, and is the stuff of legend.
  No NCAA-champion-wrestler-turned-pro ever traveled more miles and entertained more fans while NWA champion than did Jack Brisco.  He was Rembrandt and the wrestling ring was his canvas.
  As a wrestling fan, Jack Brisco was my champion, but as a man, Jack was my friend who will live in my heart forever.
Jim Ross, 2007 WWE Hall of Fame

BRISCO print edition

Excerpt from Chapter 4
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  Practices were brutal.  Coach Roderick demanded the best from us all the time.  The two hours we spent in the mat room was as close to hell on earth as you could get.  The mat room was on the main floor of Gallagher Hall, named, of course, for the legendary former wrestling coach.  The room was as long as two wrestling mats and about as wide as one.  There were no windows and no ventilation.  Likewise, no quarter was given and none was asked.  The room would get so hot that, after fifteen minutes, the mat would be so wet from sweat you could hardly stand up.  Unlike most mat rooms today, there was no padding on the walls.  As Bobby Douglas put it, our only padding was the paint on the walls.  We would shoot takedowns and smack against one wall and then another.  The facilities notwithstanding, our teams during those years produced some of the greatest wrestlers the country has ever seen.
  Some of the best athletes our country had to offer wrestled inside those storied walls, every single day.  Almost every weight class contained an all-American or a national champion.  Just walking into the room was akin to taking your life into your hands.  The scriptures say, "As iron sharpens another, one man sharpens another."  The Oklahoma State Cowboys were honed to a razorís edge.
Excerpt from Chapter 6
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  When I turned pro, everything was still kayfabe.  Kayfabe is an old carnival word that means things are kept secret and protected from anyone outside the carnival, or in my case, the wrestling business.  Professional wrestlingís roots can be found in the traveling carnivals, in a time before it made it to the auditoriums, so a lot of the wrestling terms used were "carny" language.
  The pros who trained me in the beginning would show me the moves and various holds, but every time I would ask them questions about the wrestling business, they would "kayfabe" me.  Apparently, I was asking questions they thought I shouldnít be asking.  That makes a lot more sense to me now than it did at the time.  Why should they give the secrets of the trade to some kid who may wash out and not be around a year from now?  And, believe me, there were a lot of amateurs who weren't able to make the transition from the amateurs to the pros.
  The main question I wanted an answer to was, who decides who was going to win and who was going to lose.  I was coming off a great run as national champion and I had lost only one match since I was a sophomore in high school, so I wasnít ready to lose.  "Donít worry about it, kid.  You'll learn all about that later," the pros would tell me.
  I did find out how that worked before my first match, however, when I was in the dressing room getting ready to go to the ring.  LeRoy came in and told me I was to "go over" that night.  I wasn't 100 percent certain, but I assumed that meant I was going to win.  I was right.
Excerpt from Chapter 8
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  Nick Gulas promoted wrestling in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama.  Gulas, along with his partner Roy Welch, had promoted the Tennessee territory since the early 1950s.  Gulas was notorious for lousy payoffs and, in my opinion, was the biggest thief in the business.  You could fill volumes just listing the guys he cheated.  Almost everybody knew this.  Everybody but me, that is.
  I drove to Nashville from Tulsa in my old Ď62 Chevy.  When I got there, Gulas had me booked me in a little town somewhere just outside of Nashville.  When the matches were over, Nick came in and paid off the boys in cash.  When he got to me, he handed me my nightís earnings ... $12.50.  I sat there with my mouth open, thinking there had to be some mistake.
  I had driven more than 400 miles, in an old car with no air-conditioning, in the 90-degree heat, to be handed $12.50 in cash by the biggest crook in the business.  "Great career move," I thought.  I still canít figure out where the 50-cents came from.  I guess it came from old Nick going by some predetermined percentages he had made up years before I started wrestling for him.
Excerpt from Chapter 9
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  After graduating from West Texas State, (Dory Funk) Junior moved right into the ring and learned from the likes of Pat OíConnor, Gene Kiniski, Verne Gagne, and Sonny Myers.  They were great wrestlers and most certainly some of the finest tutors available.  Schooled as he was in professional wrestling, Dory was not that strong as an amateur ... and thatís where I came into the picture.  As I stated before, Dory (Funk) Sr. put on quite a publicity campaign on my behalf.  You would think he was promoting world champion Lou Thesz, not some kid who was pretty much unknown outside of the amateur ranks and the rings of the Oklahoma territory.
  With such a build-up, it was natural for everyone to have the highest expectations of me.  The old man was no exception, but his expectations came from a different direction.  In our first few matches working together, his father had me lose to Dory in about two minutes.  Night after night, we faced each other, and night after night, he would pin me in two minutes to demonstrate what a great amateur wrestler he was.  Thanks to Dory Sr., there wasn't a wrestling fan in West Texas who didnít know of my amateur accomplishments.  And now, thanks to him, there wasn't a fan paying the price of admission, or turning on their television set, who didnít think his son was better.
  Senior not only gave Junior a leg up in his professional career, but made him an amateur champion, all without Dory ever stepping on the amateur mat.  The only purpose the old man had for me was as an example to show everyone what a great amateur Junior was.  He gave me a huge build-up going in, only to put Junior over as being better than me.  I was an NCAA amateur champion ó and Junior, to my knowledge, had never wrestled amateur in his life.
Excerpt from Chapter 12
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  We (Jack and Billy Robinson) were seriously worried about Jim (Barnett) letting us go (from Australia).  He ran a tight ship, and if you screwed up, he would send you packing before you could draw your next breath.  He let Fred Curry go just because he disagreed with him.  Every Friday, Jim would meet with all of his wrestlers in Sydney before the matches would start.  Fred was constantly contradicting Jim and telling him how he could do things better.  Finally, Jim had enough.  At the meeting in Sydney, Fred had, once again, told Jim what he thought was a better way to run things.  Jim turned to him and said, "Fred, my boy.  I donít want you to have to labor under these circumstances.  Here is a ticket for you to go back to the States tomorrow."
  We all just sat there wide eyed, looking at the floor.  We didnít want to look up, afraid Jim would send us home with Fred.  "But, Jim.  But, Jim," Fred kept saying, in an attempt to plead his case.
  Jim looked at him and said, "Fred, there is no ĎBut Jim.í  Goodbye."  And that was that.  The next morning Fred was gone.  Billy and I were, indeed, lucky that Jim calmed down and kept us on the tour.
Excerpt from Chapter 13
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  One night in Jacksonville, Joe (Scarpa, aka Chief Jay Strongbow) and I were working in a tag team match against Johnny Valentine and Boris Malenko.  The finish of the match was set to generate a return single match between Joe and Johnny.  In the dressing room before the match, Joe instructed me on what to do during the match.  For some reason (and I canít recall what that reason may have been), I decided to ignore his direction and do things my own way.  I suppose I was feeling pretty cocky, and with all my vast experience of those few years, I thought I knew better.
  Well, whatever I did didnít work, and I came close to screwing up the match.  Afterwards, back in the dressing room, Joe chewed me out like I had never been chewed out before in my life.  Man, was he angry.  He told me I had better listen to him and not fool around with his livelihood.  I remember being almost as mad at him as he was at me for yelling at me that way, but deep down, I knew he was right.  I never did anything like that again and I never forgot what he said.
Excerpt from Chapter 15
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  Eddie (Graham) came up with a plan to bump ringside tickets to $10, and general admission eight, six, and four dollars, for the match in the Bayfront.  That was a 150-percent increase in the ticket prices from the "Big Christmas Spectacular" at the Bayfront the previous year.  Everyone thought he was crazy; one too many body slams, I guess.  P.T. Barnum on his best day wouldnít have done it, but Eddie did.  Charging prices like that was unheard of in the wrestling business back then, but unchartered waters never fazed Eddie.  He reveled in them.  We all thought nobody would show ... but we couldnít have been more wrong.  He began promoting our upcoming match with the inflated ticket prices weeks before it was scheduled to take place.  In all his years in the promotional end of the business, he had never promoted a match like he did that one.  The Bayfront Center sold out all 7,525 tickets in three days.  The acting manager of the Bayfront Center said they turned away about a thousand fans, while Jerry Prater (office publicist and photographer) estimated it at 2,000.  The gate for the night was $41,000, another unheard of feat for wrestling at that time.
  That night, Dory and I wrestled to another one-hour draw.  I think many of the fans must have thought, with ticket prices that high, there was a good chance they would see me finally win the title.  I was sorry to disappoint them, but they got one hell of a show for the price of their admission.
  Funny thing about the payoff that night ... even with a full house and a record box office, our pay envelopes werenít any heavier.  Eddie thought it had been all his idea, so the money was all his.  The boys disagreed about the split and I went to Eddie to try to negotiate a better payday.  The conversation didnít last long.  He told me in no uncertain terms, "I don't care what everyone thinks.  Thatís the way it is.  I'm the boss and you all work for me."
Excerpt from Chapter 18
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  On February 28, I was just getting out of the shower after wrestling Ron Starr in Miami when Eddie (Graham) walked into the dressing room and informed me that he had just received a call from Dory Funk Sr.  My plans had been to fly to Houston the next day and take the title from Junior the following night.  Senior told Eddie that Junior and Senior both had been injured in an accident on their ranch.  Supposedly, they had been rounding up cattle and rolled the truck, dislocating Juniorís right shoulder in the process.  Eddie went on to explain that due to his accident, Dory wouldnít be defending his title against me in Houston.  In other words, all bets were off and I wouldnít be getting the belt.  Not on that Friday night, anyway, and perhaps not at all.  I couldnít believe it.  All my training and all the jobs I had done to put other wrestlers over boiled down to nothing.
  You have to admire how Funk Sr. played up the truck incident.  The newspapers covered the story, and "The Wrestler" magazine did a five-page cover story with pictures of Dory in the hospital, claiming the truck accident did what his opponents couldnít do ó put Junior in the hospital.  I have to be honest; I didnít believe that story for a minute.  I had enough dealings with Juniorís old man to know that anytime he was involved, there was some game being played.
  When it came down to who the best professional wrestler in the world was, it all came down to politics.  Dory Sr. was bound and determined that his son was not going to drop his world title to me.  Iím not sure if it was because he just didnít like me, the fact that Junior beat me so many times in two minutes or less, my amateur background, or the fact that they were Texans and I was from Oklahoma.
  I do know he didnít want Junior to lose to a babyface.  Losing to a babyface would mean Junior lost to a better wrestler, so Senior wanted him to lose to a heel who would screw Junior out of the championship.  That way, he could claim that, even though he no longer held the belt, Junior didnít lose it fairly.  Eddie told me Senior was adamant about that and had been raising hell with all the promoters, telling them the only way Junior would lose the title was if he dropped it to Harley Race.
Excerpt from Chapter 21
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  The promoters would print and sell their own tickets, which, conveniently, werenít numbered, so there was no actual way to tell how many tickets were sold.  For years, wrestling was a cash business, and being so, it was easy for the more unscrupulous promoters to forget exactly how much money had been taken in to report for tax purposes.  Can you imagine a wrestling promoter trying to take money from the boys who worked for him?  It almost defies reason.  I always thought they would want to keep their employees happy in order to keep and draw good talent.  Some promoters looked at it that way, but others saw us as nothing more than an independent labor force whose happiness with their working conditions were the furthest thing from their minds.
  Many a night, wrestlers walked into a promoterís office to receive their pay, only to see them stuffing their pockets with the cash from the gate.  Being an all-cash business, we couldnít prove a thing.  However, being the champion did provide me with another benefit the other boys didnít have: no matter what depths the promoters would sink to, none of them wanted to be on bad terms with the world champion or the NWA, whoever it was.
  The worst payoff man ó next to Nick Gulas, believe it or not ó was ...
Excerpt from Chapter 22
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  I wanted to have a good match with Bobby (Backlund).  It was his first opportunity to work a main event for the world heavyweight title and I remembered how well Junior had treated me when he gave me my first shot.  Bob had been working his way up through the card and had been wrestling mid-card or semi-final matches.  If we had a good match, it would help put him over and propel him into main events.  I most certainly had been given help along the way and that was an opportunity for me to reciprocate.
  The previous night, I had flown in from New Orleans after a match against Dick Murdoch, but I was relaxed and ready to go when I arrived at the Omni that night.  When I walked into the dressing room, about 90 minutes before I was scheduled to enter the ring, Bob had already been in the dressing room for more than an hour doing squats, pushups, and his Harvard Step Test.  Nobody worked out as hard as Bob.  We would all be relaxing and saving our energy for the ring, while Bob was working out at full tilt for 60 to 90 minutes before a match.
  The boys all ribbed me about having to face Bobby in the ring.  They kidded me about how strong he was, his training regimen, and above all, how those factors kick in when he gets nervous ... like tonight.  "You have to work with Bobby Backlund tonight?" they would ask.  "Iím glad itís you and not me.  Heís too strong."  By bell-time, I honestly believed Bobby was going to kill me.
Excerpt from Chapter 23
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  Before I left, I received a phone call from Terry Funk.  He said Giant Baba had called and wanted him to present me with a business proposition.  "Jack, Baba wants the title and is willing to make a deal with you," he explained.
  "So what?" I said.  "Everybody wants the title.  Thatís why we all got into this in the first place."
  "But heís willing to pay you for it."
  "How much is he willing to pay?"
  "He said he would give you ten thousand dollars if you let him hold the belt for one week."
  "I donít know, Terry," I responded.
  "We could do it and not tell the NWA about it," said Terry.  "Baba will return the belt at the end of that time and youíd be back in the States before Muchnick or anyone else hears about it.  And even if they do get wind of it, we could claim you accidentally hit your head and were knocked out, so Baba had no choice other than to cover you and promised to return the belt by losing to you the following week."
Excerpt from Chapter 27
Copyright ©  Bill Murdock   I wrestled him (The Sheik) for the first time on September 8, 1974 in Toronto with my title against his U.S. title.  All he did was jab me about 30 times with his ballpoint pen.  The match lasted ... well, as long as it took to jab me 30 times with his ballpoint pen.  I didnít have to do very much.  In fact, all I really had to do was sell what the Sheik was doing.  I would stagger around the ring, acting like I was in pain, and hang on until we got close to the time the match was supposed to end.  At that point, I lost my temper and attacked him fists and feet.  When we refused to listen to the referee, we were both disqualified.  The match went just four minutes and six seconds.  I went to the dressing room, with title intact, showered, and left.
  I hated matches like that, but to my surprise, they usually drew well.  I wanted to put on a good show and to wrestle, but with gimmick guys, that was asking the impossible.  In some cases, I would try to get them to wrestle, even if it was just a little, so I could feel good about having earned my pay.  Unfortunately, most gimmick wrestlers were just that Ö gimmick guys.
  Six months later, on March 25, 1975, we met in Cincinnati to a sold-out house.  That time, I didnít have time to take off my ring jacket before he attacked me.  He jabbed me another 30 times with his pen, threw fire, and was disqualified.  What fun.
  After that match, I was on the receiving end of one of his famous payoff scams.  After the match, he handed me my payoff.  A lot of promoters paid at the end of the night.  I only allowed the few I trusted to mail a check to me later.  I took his check, which was for $500, and put it into my wallet.  I carried it around with me for about two weeks while I was on the road.  When I got back home, I went to the bank to cash it and handed it to the teller, along with a few others.  The teller looked at me and said, "Iím sorry, Mr. Brisco.  There seems to be a problem with one of your checks."
Excerpt from Chapter 33
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  Barnett didnít mind us booking spot shows in the Midwest, but Gerry and I wanted to take everything a step further.  We wanted to study the ratings book and promote the towns where WTBS and Georgia Championship Wrestling had their highest ratings.  Jim was adamantly against it.  He held to the old mindset of promoters of years past.  And thatís what he was; a promoter from the past with no interest in the future of wrestling. "I canít do that," Jim told Gerry and me.  "All the promoters are friends of mine.  I canít step on their toes by moving into their territories."
  "Jim," I said, "those guys arenít your friends and you know it.  They would step on your turf in a second if they thought they could make a buck."
  He refused to even entertain the idea.  Jim was a 1960s promoter living in 1983.  Gerry and I realized that if things were going to change, it would be up to us to get the ball rolling.  As Lou Thesz always reminded me, "If itís to be, its up to me."  Gerry and I were determined to move in another direction, not only because we saw the wrestling business changing, but because we had to deal with another problem we were experiencing within our promotion.
Excerpt from Chapter 34
Copyright © Bill Murdock
  When Don (Muraco) picked us up that afternoon, it had been snowing so hard that all the cars were covered with snow.  Don hadnít been in the terminal for more than 20 minutes, but when we walked out to the parking lot, we couldnít find his car.  In that short space of time, his car had been completely covered with snow.  There we were, three big-time wrestlers, walking around the parking lot looking for Donís car.  He didnít have a clue as to where he had parked, so we wandered around like we were in a scene from one of the Three Stooges films.
  The wind was blowing, the snow was falling, and my face was so cold that my lips were frozen.  In fact, my entire face felt like a swarm of angry bees were stinging it.  As we walked around the parking lot, I kept hearing the planes taking off, and all I could think was that they were all headed south.  I turned around to face Gerry.  It was almost comical, if it wasnít for the fact that I couldnít feel my face or my hands.  I told him, "Gerry, you see all those planes heading south?  The next one leaving ó Iím going to be on it."
BRISCO print edition
Chapter titles and contents
Foreword by Mike Mooneyham
Introduction by Mike Chapman
Introductions by William Murdock
1. Freddie Joe
2. State Champion
3. Lambs for the Slaughter
4. The Mat Room
5. The Sweat Box
6. First Match
7. The Hard Way
8. The Heelís Fan Club
9. Old Man Funk
10. Dressing Room Politics
11. Fish-Head Soup
12. Motel-Room Title Match
13. Tallahassee Convection Oven
14. The Good Doctor
15. Chasing the Heels
16. Number One
17. Walkout
18. The Conversation
  19. The Middle Man
20. Ten Pounds of Gold
21. The Worst Payoff Man
22. A Visit with Jim Barnett
23. In Business for Myself
24. The ďUndisputedĒ World Champion
25. Like a Moth to a Flame
26. Two Tens and a Five
27. The Ballpoint Pen
28. Climbing the Ropes
29. Skinning the Cat
30. ďThe King is Dead, Long Live the KingĒ
31. The Heel Turn
32. Son of a Gynecologist
33. Corporate Subterfuge
34. First Flight Headed South
35. Dr. Patellís Miracle Man
Epilogue by Bill Murdock
Afterword by Adam Copeland

BRISCO print edition
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