November 2, 2004
Hall of Fame announces Class of 2005
The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum announced its Class 2005, and it's full of Bruisers, Crushers, and even a Penny.
The perfect foil to Mad Dog and Butcher Vachon, who were inducted in 2004, are the 2005 Tag Team Inductees--Reggie "Crusher" Lisowski and the late Dick "The Bruiser" Afflis. This duo held the American Wrestling Association Tag Team Championship on five separate occasions. Crusher hailed from Milwaukee and Bruiser's hometown was Chicago, Illinois. Bruiser was born in 1929 and made his ring debut in 1952. He held many individual titles in addition to the tag titles he held. Bruiser died in 1991 from internal bleeding. Crusher was born in 1925 and had his first pro bout in 1949.
In the Ladies Division, former American Wrestling Association champion Penny Banner will be presented with an induction ring. Penny recently authored her autobiography entitled, Banner Days, in which she recounts the difficulties of being a female wrestler in the 1950s and 1960s. She also discusses her dates with Elvis Presley and gives her thoughts on female wrestlers such as June Byers and Mildred Burke. Penny is still competing in the Senior Games and typically places quite high in these athletic events. She currently resides in North Carolina.
In the Modern Category, Dory Funk, Jr. and George "The Animal" Steele will be honored. Funk, whose father was a famous pro wrestler, began his wrestling career in 1964 and held many titles including the coveted NWA belt. His opponents feared his spinning toe hold finisher. Dory's brother Terry was inducted into the PWHF Class of 2004. Funk currently trains wrestlers out of his Ocala, Florida facility.
George Steele, whose real name is William James Myers, was born in 1937. His wrestling career began in 1962 under the guidance of promoter Bert Rubi. He is a retired teacher and has already been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Steele recently played wrestler Tor Johnson in the movie Ed Wood, which starred Johnny Depp. He has been a tireless ambassador for the PWHF and has made numerous appearances at PWHF fundraising events.
In the TV-Era Division, Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer and Jack Brisco will be enshrined. Beyer became one of the most famous masked wrestlers in the world wrestling as, "The Destroyer". A former co-captain of the Syracuse University football team, Beyer holds both Bachelors and Masters degrees from that institution. Beyer has previously been awarded the PWHF New York State Award, which honors world-class wrestlers who have made significant charitable contributions to society. He held the AWA and WWA titles and his match against Rikidozan in Japan set television viewing records. Beyer currently resides in Akron, New York.
Jack Brisco was born in Tampa, Florida in 1940 and made his ring debut in 1968 after an illustrious amateur career. He held the NWA World title as well as many other NWA championships. His finishing hold was the figure-four leglock. He retired in 1984 and currently operates a very successful automobile body shop in Florida.
In the Pioneer Category, Orville Brown and John Pesek will be honored. Brown was born in Kansas in 1908 and became World Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Dick Shikat in 1940. He beat such luminaries as Strangler Lewis, Everett Marshall, and Ray Steele. He wrestled in main events in many arenas including Madison Square Garden. He retired in 1949 due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident but stayed active as a wrestling promoter after retirement.
John Pesek, known as the "Nebraska Tigerman", was born in Ravenna, Nebraska in 1894. He won the World Heavyweight Championship in 1937 and was considered a "straight shooter", meaning that he had authentic wrestling skills. It is said that many wrestlers wanted to avoid meeting him inside the squared circle. He is already named to the Nebraska Hall of Fame. He also raised champion greyhounds and one of his dogs is in the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Kansas. Pesek died in 1978.
In the Midget Category, Leon Spat, who performed as "Fuzzy Cupid", will be posthumously inducted into the PWHF. At four feet tall and eighty-six pounds, Cupid was such a "heel" as a wrestler that he suffered several injuries at the hands of angry fans. Fuzzy was born in Rhode Island in 1928 and died in 1976.
In the Non-participant Category, the late wrestling promoter Paul Boesch will be inducted. Boesch was born in 1912 in Brooklyn, New York. He started as a wrestler in 1932 and wrestled such greats as Lou Thesz, Gorgeous George and Gus Sonnenberg. He was a well-decorated hero in World War II and even wrote a book on his experiences as a soldier. A motor vehicle accident in 1947 cut his ring career short but he went on to become one of the most successful wrestling promoters in history. His name is synonymous with Houston Wrestling. He passed away in 1989 in Sugarland, Texas.
The inductees were placed on the official ballot by a Screening Committee composed of Dr. Robert Bryla, Chairperson, Robert Oates, Attorney and Certified Public Accountant, respected wrestling historian Don Luce and Karl Lauer, who represented the Cauliflower Alley Club. The ballot was then voted upon by wrestling experts and former PWHF honorees. A total of twenty-seven ballots were tabulated for the final results. The Screening Committee did not vote as the members wanted to have maximum input from international wrestling authorities and past PWHF inductees. PWHF President Tony Vellano and Vice-President Mike Capano are planning another stellar event for the 2005 Induction weekend. Every year has been a sell out and they recommended that tickets be purchased well in advance for the 2005 weekend. Further information concerning the composition of the Board of Selectors and the May 2005 Induction Weekend may be obtained by visiting the PWHF website at www.pwhf.org.
-- SLAM! Wrestling
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