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The Destroyer

The Destroyer. -- Toronto Sun files
REAL NAME: Dick Beyer
5'10"

 Like the mask he hides behind, facts about The Destroyer are a little hard to come by. He's really Dick Beyer, from upstate New York. Before getting into pro wrestling, he was a guard on a Syracuse Orangemen team that made the Orange Bowl, and later an assistant coach at Syracuse.

"When I graduated from Syracuse University and went back and got my Masters degree, I was recruited by Ed Don George to go into pro wrestling," The Destroyer recalled in a May 2000 interview with SLAM! Wrestling. "I said to my family -- of course I wasn't married then -- I said, 'I'll stay in this five years, make some money, then I'll be able to afford to teach', which is what I wanted to do. And I got into wrestling and I didn't make the money that I envisioned I was going to make until I put a mask on as The Destroyer out in California in '63. Then I was doing so good, I couldn't afford to quit!"

His career did indeed take off in 1963 in Los Angeles, when the promoter there wanted him to don a mask for a few weeks, and when the gimmick ran its course, unmask. The Destroyer became so successful, he never did unmask (as far as we know!) He wore the mask everywhere, knowing full well that it was the best publicity and promotion possible.

The Destroyer was a huge star in Japan, one of the first North American stars to ever make it big there. He was also a big star in the Mid-South and Florida.

The Destroyer talked about his decision to work Japan for The Giant Baba's All-Japan Pro Wrestling promotion. "I presented them an offer that they didn't refuse. I told them that I would come and work for their company. Because at that point, Giant Baba was a splinter group off Japan Pro Wrestling, which Rikidozan had started."

"All Japan Pro Wrestling became Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta and The Destroyer. I probably wrestled more with [Tsuruta] than against him. In Japan, we wrestled about 180 matches a year. We went on tour -- I've probably seen more of Japan than the average Japanese will see in two lifetimes!"

In conversation with The Destroyer -- he off the gruff, growling voice -- it's easy to pick out the lines that he has obviously thrown out before. "I went over for Giant Baba for one year and stayed six" was one such line.

Living in Japan made him an honourary Japanese of sorts. "I wrestled on the Japanese team against the Americans. It got over very well because I was an establish person at the time. I hadn't been abused. They tried to, but I wouldn't let them."

The Destroyer left Japan to return to the United States in 1979, but he continued to return each year until 1993. "When I left Japan after working for Baba for six years, I said 'When can I come back for a tour?' He said, 'Destroyer, you can come back anytime. You pick up the phone, you say you want to be booked for three weeks, if you're on'. I started teaching here in '84, and I'm off summers. And they were on a summer tour, a July tour, and I would go over."

"I would make as much on that tour as I made on half of my teaching salary."

Beyer was a Phys. Ed. teacher at Akron Central School in Akron, NY. He coached football, wrestling but his biggest success was in coaching swimming. He retired from teaching in June 1995, but still coaches the swimming team.

His teaching skills came in handy overseas too. "It was good for me and it was good for Baba because at that particular time in my career, I was more of a teacher for him than I was a drawing card."

"Some of the Americans would say, 'How come they're using you down there?' I said 'Don't start roughing up the apples!' because I'd wrestle and be done, take a shower. I didn't want to wait around for the main event. I'd been there, done that. And I got paid the same."
"I may not be the biggest or the strongest, but I'm the quickest and the smartest." -- The Destroyer

The Destroyer's Official Web Site



Stories

  • The Destroyer Photo Gallery
  • July 28, 2014: The Destroyer goes over the edge for charity
  • July 19, 2013: Park golf suits The Destroyer to a tee
  • June 22, 2013: Sensational, intelligent Destroyer proves it at school talk
  • Oct. 21, 2012: Compelling story keeps Destroyer's book moving
  • Jan. 11, 2012: Destroyer's book has many sides to it
  • May 17, 2000: Jumbo, Baba and The Destroyer
    Memories

    The Destroyer  I remember going to the Olympic Auditorium in downtown Los Angeles in the early 60s with my Grandpa Leonard. The Destroyer was one of the top three wrestler at the time and would pack the house each week. Along with Classy Freddy Blassie and Pedro Morales--they ruled wrestling in Los Angeles.
     dirtyred2@webtv.net
     I remember watching The Destroyer on TV in Los Angeles in the early 60s. He used the "figure four leglock" to defeat everyone, and no one could get his mask off. My friends and I all practiced the leglock on one another. It was impossible to get out of.
     ehudson
     Oh yes! The Destroyer was simply one of the best! His matches with Freddie Blassie were legendary. The closest I ever saw him to loosing the mask was against Cowboy Bob Ellis, I believe in the mid 60's. I can still remember old Dick Lane calling the action. I think Dick Lane was as good as Gordon Solie in his day.
     The promoters back then, Gene and Mike LaBell along with Jules Strongbow gave the fans wonderful cards back then. I can remember, Bobo Brazil, John Tolos, Mil Mascares, some real young kid named Roddy Piper and another named Terry Funk. As the years went by into the early 70's, the Olympic began to fade away but not before Rocky Johnson, Tony Atlas, Bearcat Wright, Bull Ramos, Black Gordman and Haystacks Calhoon. The Olympic was a real dump--but it was MY dump and I will never forget those wonderful memories.
      Anybody remember the name of the announcer who used to promote 'Lou's Garage"?
      As for The Destroyer, I also remember one hell of a match he had in 1963 against Giant Baba. Lasted almost 1 1/2 hours.
      Mike Masarsky
     One of the greatest wrestling legends of all time has to be Dick "the Destroyer" Beyer. He has held numerous belts and titles around the world and was a legend in the All Japan Wrestling Promotion. In addition, Dick Beyer is also actively involved in the Ilio DiPaulo foundation in Western New York that awards a scholarship to the best high school wrestler in the area. His greatest matches had to be with Angelo Poffo (Randy Savage's father) in Buffalo in 1959.
     In conclusion, if there ever was a man that has given back to his community, it has to be Dick Beyer!
     Donald Weimer
     One of my all time favorites. Living in LA during the 50's and 60's, I had the opportunity to see a title match between the Destroyer and Fred Blassie at the Olympic (18th and Grand). For weeks before the match, Blassie would file his teeth on the interviews with Dick Lane and state that he would chew off the Destroyer's mask. As for the match, it was one of the best I have ever seen. In the end Blassie bit through the mask and tore it off only to find another mask underneath it. He eventually bit through it too and unmasked the Destroyer, who grabbed a towel and ran from the ring. Never saw his face. Blassie won the title that night.
     m-t-head@surfari.net
      I remember the Destroyer as being one of the best wrestlers to evolve in Québec during the 80's, in the heyday of the Frank Valois promotion. He was hated first and was teased about his "Duck walk", but when he attacked a hated British wrestler called Billy Robinson on the air, he won the hearts of every fan. He's the number one master of the figure four leglock...all federations included...
      Claude Leduc, Montréal, Qc, ceejayl@hotmail.com
      Can anyone tell me the name of The Destroyer's tag-team partner in Los Angeles? He had an Armenian last name and was short and stocky and used the backbreaker as his submission hold. The two were teamed together for a number of months (in the early or mid 60's).
      enesco@webtv.net
      Dick "The Destroyer" Beyers is now my swimming coach in Akron NY. It is pretty cool having a legend as your teacher.
      NUGGET7378@aol.com
      I just read your page about my father, The Destroyer. I just wanted to say "thanks" for having his bio covered on your site and that he certainly deserves the credit of being one of the best professional wrestlers of our time!!
      Rich Beyer
     I believe the Destroyer's tag team partner in the early 60s was Don Manoukian. What a time for wrestling that was! My friends and I used to go San Bernardino about '62 through '64 to see the matches. What a blast! Are you out there, Tom, Jim, Pat, and Dave?
     Weldon Jackson, Wj137@aol.com
     The Destroyer is my favorite wrestler of all time! I can still remember the first time I saw him. I was watching wrestling from the Olympic Auditorium as I did every Wednesday night, and he came out one match too early, jumped over the top rope into the ring, walked around, and then left. From that moment on I was hooked. A friend's father would take a car load of us kids to the arena in San Bernardino every Saturday night. We'd watch the likes of The Destroyer and Freddie Blassie. Before his matches the Destroyer would come out and lean against the wall next to the popcorn machine and watch the matches. One time I went out and asked him "Can I please have your autograph Mr. Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer?". I'll never forget the little smirk he gave at hearing that. One night he was in a tag team match. It was the Destroyer and Don Manoukian vs. Freddie Blassie and Don Leo Jonathan. What a match! Wrestling is just not the same these days with the big steroid produced bodies, make-up, and hype. Wrestlers like The Destroyer and Freddie Blassie created a golden period of wrestling that will never be surpassed, or even equaled!
     JGlenn@pop.ucr.edu
     I can remember going to watch wrestling at the Maple Leaf Gardens, something i did pretty regular with my sister Kim.
     She was an autograph hound, she would seek out all the wrestlers , or one who would get all the others autographs for her.
     Once near the concession stand, she saw The Destroyer and asked him for an autograph. He said "But I'm a bad guy -- do you still want it?"
     She of course said yes and I can still remember today seeing it signed The Destroyer, with a little thumbnail sketch of him in his mask.
     sean murley
     I remember watching The Destroyer on Channel 5 from L.A. on Wednesday nights. He was a very scary guy with that mask on. He was a bad guy at first, always beating the good guy. I saw many matches between him and Freddie Blassie. It was the highlight of my week. My friends and I would talk about it for days. I had the opportunity to see The Destroyer wrestle on many occasions in San Bernardino on Saturday nights. My dad would load my friends and I in his station wagon and hit the freeway. As we approached the arena, the anticipation level would rise and we were very excited. The Destroyer would watch the matches by the popcorn machine. I once got up enough nerve to ask him for an autograph. I was scared stiff. I was finally standing by him. I would try to look past the mask to see his face. He looked like my Social Studies teacher. My friends and I would say that one day, our teacher would forget to take off his mask and come to class with it on. We would laugh. I remember the night he did an interview in the locker room with that guy from Lou's Garage. He said that his son was getting beaten up at school and that he was going to change his image. From that point on, The Destroyer was a good guy. Thanks for all the great memories. You were great!!! The man with "the million dollar legs."
      Tom, Tk088@aol.com
     My wife joined Toastmasters International in October of last year. She attended a regional competition with her cousin. When she came home, she showed me the program from the competition and asked me if I recognized any name on the program. She was thinking that I would spot the name of a lady who she used to be close friends with. Instead I let out a yell and said: DICK BEYER!!!! My poor startled wife asked me who Dick Beyer is, and I proceeded at length to run down Dick's achievements in the wrestling business. She then told me that he's a member of Toastmasters and gave a speech at the competition.
     A few weeks back she attended another regional competition, and sat across from Dick and his wife. She mentioned that I was a big fan, and he gave her a business card with a full color picture of him in the mask to give to me.
     And btw, yes, he has taken the mask off in public. My wife said he didn't have a mask on at either event.
     mdosh@earthlink.net
    That "guy on KTLA" for Lou's Garage on Wednesday Night Wrestling From the Olympic was Sam Benson...who's still alive and well in SoCal! I too watched this show religiously when I was a kid In Los Angeles. Dick Lane invented the jargon for wrestling the same way the late, great Chick Hearn did for basketball! And to think we were fortunate to have both of 'em in the same town simultaneously!
     Mark