2020 Cadillac Limo

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With pro wrestling/sports ball amphitheatre to abandoned arenas, anxiously apprehension a blooming ablaze to reconnect with a animate audience, it’s an ideal time to booty a accessory aback at some of the greats of yesteryear who helped paved the way for those who followed.

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Blackjack Mulligan, who died four years ago at the age of 73, was one of the toughest guys in a business accepted for them.

Mulligan, whose absolute name was Bob Windham, was a behemothic of a man at 6-6 and 325 pounds during his prime. He additionally was one of the best acclaimed performers of his generation, decidedly in the talent-laden Carolinas during the 1970s breadth he teamed and feuded with a adolescent “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The two would become abutting accompany and akin next-door neighbors, with belief of their out-of-ring antics trumping akin their best alien theatrics central the boxlike circle.

Mulligan’s tales of his adventures with the Nature Boy were numerous, and some absolutely are bigger larboard to those who aggregate them. “I’ll be abrogation God’s blooming apple with them stories,” Mulligan already declared.

Their extracurricular escapades took them from every above nightspot in the Carolinas and Virginia to beyond the Mexican bound to Nuevo Laredo. They akin aggregate a van which would become allotment of an abominable storyline on television.

“We bought these little old amplitude houses in Charlotte that this guy awash for $49,500. These were $200,000 places, so I bought four and Ric bought a couple, and we anguish up next-door neighbors. And what a affair that was,” Mulligan recalled in a 2008 interview.

Before he knew it, Flair had Mulligan’s 15-year-old son (and approaching Hall of Famer and Four Horseman), Barry Windham, chauffeuring him in a Cadillac auto the two had purchased from the bank music accumulation The Tams. Problem was, laughed Mulligan, that Barry wasn’t akin old abundant to accept his driver’s license.

“I already austere up one of his limousines,” accepted Windham. “I was out active my buddies about in the Nature Boy auto and we pulled into a Taco Bell drive-through. The aback end of the car bent on fire. We didn’t get to booty the limos out afterwards that.”

Mulligan and Flair additionally were one of the above affidavit for the territory’s astounding success during that period. They acclimated real-life adventures to advance a advantageous storyline breadth the crumbling Mulligan, axis babyface for the aboriginal time in his career, beggared means with the younger, bouncy Flair. Dubbed “The Hat and Robe,” it was one of the best acclaimed angles in Mid-Atlantic history, with Flair disturbing up a cowboy hat accustomed to Blackjack by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, and Mulligan in acknowledgment antibacterial Flair’s admired $7,500 peacock robe.

Blackjack Mulligan was a aerial behemothic in the angry business. Provided photo

Flair and Mulligan were no strangers, aback the angular cowboy had helped indoctrinate the approaching Nature Boy beforehand in Texas. The two had aboriginal beyond paths at the Headlock Agronomical (then endemic by Mulligan and Dusty Rhodes) in Austin, breadth a blooming Flair accompanied a adept aggregation that included boxy guys Dick Murdoch, Bobby Duncum and Ray “The Crippler” Stevens.

Mulligan recalled in an account that Flair, who sported a amber crewcut and was abundant added at the time, resembled Curly of The Three Stooges.

“Ray Stevens ribbed Ric, the new boy, into demography bottomward a adult cow, about 1,200 pounds, and the action was on. It’s a admiration Ric is animate today,” Mulligan joked. “Ric advised about 300 pounds afresh and was big as a house. He admired angry and so did I. He was actual agog and was a adamantine worker, akin aback then. I can say in all bluntness he’s the bigger brilliant of all time.”

The abutting time their paths beyond in Charlotte, Flair had akin down, was antic albino albino beard and his own altered style. Booker George Scott assertive Mulligan to appear to the Carolinas and booty over the No. 1 heel atom until Flair, still acquirements the business but already advised championship material, was accessible to booty over.

“I fell in adulation with the place,” said Mulligan. “I had never apparent so abounding appealing girls in one abode in my life. It was a acceptable abode to work, but it was connected trips and we formed hard.”

Blackjack became the territory’s top heel afterward the 1975 alike blast that alone Flair and bedridden Johnny Valentine. He abounding the role nicely, capturing the U.S. ample appellation and afterwards the apple tag-team appellation with Flair.

“Blackjack came in and helped lift up a breadth that was still in shock afterwards the alike blast tragedy,” recalled Dick Bourne of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website. “His accession afterwards the alike blast was as important a agency in the breadth accepting aback on its anxiety as annihilation else. George Scott put a lot of the weight of the accretion of the breadth on Blackjack’s shoulders. He additionally helped Ric Flair adapt to be the cardinal one heel in the territory, and aback it was time, Blackjack stepped abreast and accustomed Flair to accomplish that ascent in one of the territory’s best acclaimed angles.”

“Although our careers would booty us bottomward altered paths, I’ve never abandoned the amazing times we had and the accord we shared,” said Flair. “I will consistently be accountable to Jack Mulligan for allegorical me during an important allotment of my career, and for actuality a acquaintance I could consistently accessory up to.”

Mulligan, as Bob Windham, bankrupt into the business in 1969 alive for Joe Blanchard’s San Antonio-based advance breadth a adolescent Dusty Rhodes was one of his aboriginal opponents.

Mulligan became a accoutrement in the accepted Mid-Atlantic breadth from the mid-1970s through 1981, and some of his greatest programs complex Flair as both an adversary and a partner. Whether it was in a baby aerial academy amphitheater or in advanced of 15,000 admirers at the Greensboro Coliseum, Mulligan and Flair advised the admirers to a achievement they’d consistently remember. The “Mully and Rickus” actualization never bootless to deliver.

“Those were some fun times,” said Mulligan, who at one time endemic the Knoxville angry breadth alternating with Flair. “I’ve had some absolute highs and some absolute lows, but I’ve been actual blessed.”

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The pride of Sweetwater, Texas, was, indeed, one of pro wrestling’s accurate originals. A adept cheat with a allowance for gab that fabricated him one of the best interviews in the sport, the man affectionately dubbed Bobby Jack Windham was one of the greatest performers and best absorbing characters the business has anytime seen.

The aerial barb casting an arty adumbration as he went head-to-head with added behemoths of the day such as Andre The Giant, Big John Studd, The Superstar (Bill Eadie) and The Super Destroyer (Don Jardine). He was a football amateur (at the University of Texas at El Paso afore suiting up for the New York Jets in the 1966 AFL preseason) afore Wahoo McDaniel, accession Texas amphitheatre artefact who would afterwards become one of his best acclaimed rivals, assertive him there was abundant added money to be fabricated in the angry game. Bob Windham, as he was accepted at the time, took Wahoo up on his offer, and the fable of Blackjack Mulligan would anon be born.

Dressed in atramentous — cowboy boots, hat and trunks — with a blubbery western mustache, the above Marine was a larger-than-life character. His alarming barb hold, featuring his gloved hand, addled abhorrence into both opponents and admirers alike.

Working in Verne Gagne’s AWA (where he was alleged Rookie of the Year in 1970) and afterwards in the Northeastern-based WWWF territory, Mulligan would banderole above shows adjoin such favorites as Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales. He became such a calefaction allurement that an irate, knife-wielding fan about asleep him during a WWWF appellation bout with Morales at the Boston Garden in 1971, acute hundreds of stitches to abutting his wounds. The stiletto acclimated by the fan had been biconcave in pig fat, additionally consistent in an infection that kept Mulligan briefly sidelined.

Blackjack Mulligan works over his adversary in a blood-soaked cage match. Provided photo/[email protected]

During the ‘70s, he was allotment of a top tag aggregation with Blackjack Lanza. Managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan on the Indianapolis circuit, the two afterwards captured the WWWF tag-team appellation in New York with Lou Albano as their manager.

“I knew he was a above allure from the aboriginal time I saw him battle — anon afterwards I had started my own career,” recalled Flair.

That bout alveolate The Blackjacks, Mulligan and Lanza, alternating with administrator Heenan, adjoin The Crusher and The Bruiser. But it was added than a angry match; it was a all-encompassing riot.

“I knew from that moment on that I was activity to adulation this business,” said Flair. “But little did I apperceive that our paths would cantankerous afresh a few years afterwards aback George Scott brought Jack into the Carolinas, breadth I was authoritative a name in the sport. It was additionally one of the greatest things that anytime happened to me in my career.”

Decades later, Mulligan and Lanza, one of the best acclaimed teams of the ‘70s, would be inducted by longtime administrator Heenan into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006. Bloom problems had already amorphous to affliction Mulligan, and initially he was afraid to accessory the ceremony. But later, with some prodding from his old active associate Flair, he consented.

The alone affliction I accept is that I’m not 21 years old,” he said in his consecration speech. “I ambition I could do this again, I really, absolutely do.” It would be his aftermost above accessible appearance.

While Mulligan’s career asthmatic bottomward in the backward ‘80s, his bequest connected with sons Barry and Kendall Windham.

While Kendall enjoyed abstinent success, Barry abutting his ancestor in the WWE Hall of Fame and captivated the NWA apple ample title. Mulligan’s babe Stephanie affiliated above pro brilliant and WWE ambassador Mike Rotunda. One of their sons, and Mulligan’s grandson, Bray “The Fiend” Wyatt (Windham Rotunda), is currently one of the top names in WWE. Accession son, Bo Dallas (Taylor Rotunda), is on the WWE agenda as well. Their sister, Mika Rotunda, has additionally formed for WWE.

Like his dad a decade earlier, Barry Windham enjoyed an absurd run alive for Crockett Promotions during the ‘80s and into the ‘90s for WCW, and at one time was advised one of the best in-ring workers in the business.

“My dad had kept us all appealing cloistral from the business,” Barry said in a 2014 interview. “He kept us abroad from the shows. I was 11 afore I got to go to my aboriginal (wrestling) show. I went with him to some workouts, but he didn’t let me appear about that much. But I could accept why he did that.”

Windham knew Blackjack Mulligan was one huge, arty amount in the ring. But at home, he says, “he was consistently Dad.”

“I’m abiding it was difficult at times for him to antithesis home and wrestling, abnormally at times like that, aback he was so hot.”

At the old County Hall in Charleston, Mulligan was a accoutrement during the ‘70s and ‘80s, aggressive the brand of Flair, Andre The Giant, Tim “Mr. Wrestling” Woods, Johnny Weaver, Big John Studd, Greg Valentine, Rufus R. Jones, Paul Jones and McDaniel, with whom he affianced in endless bloodbaths over the years.

“He was one the bigger affidavit why I fell in adulation with pro wrestling,” said longtime fan Chris Wilkinson. “His actualization was believable. The anamnesis of seeing Blackjack adjoin John Studd at County Hall … annihilation pretty, but a acceptable fight.”

“Jack was an iconic, larger-than-life character. Like John Wayne and Waylon Jennings formed into one with a blow of Bugs Bunny,” recalled Richard O’Sullivan of New York City, a biographer and ambassador who followed Mid-Atlantic Championship Angry during its heyday.

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“Simultaneously heroic, alarming and hilarious. I abstruse added about storytelling from a Blackjack Mulligan account than I anytime abstruse from a academy book. He corrective these active portraits of activity bottomward in Eagle Pass, Texas, that fabricated me feel like I grew up there. I never saw Uncle Reba Joe or Spider Grip or Sarah Joe Puckett, but I knew them somehow and it provided his actualization background.”

Legitimately continuing 6-6 but billed at times as alpine as 6-10, the able Mulligan was a accustomed adversary for Andre, and their matches drew sellout crowds throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“One of my best memorable moments was aback Dick Murdoch and I threw a affair for him in Virginia Beach,” Mulligan recalled. “We had this appropriate apartment on the beach, and we afraid him with a altogether block and a debris can abounding of beer. He absolutely admired that. He absolutely cried … he had tears in his eyes. He was aloof a great, adorable guy. That absolutely was a abundant time.”

As hated a heel as Mulligan was, in afterwards years he would become one of the best admired and admired abstracts in the Carolinas.

Once he angry heel, he said, there was no axis back. “It was ridiculous. It was so accessible it was silly.”

Heel or face, Mulligan created a actualization for the ages, one that would be remembered for years

“Blackjack was a actualization … a guy you absolutely admired actuality around,” recalled longtime apostle Jim Crockett.

“He was an absorbing guy. And for his size, I don’t anticipate there was a bigger big guy in the business for that stature,” added Bill “Masked Superstar” Eadie.

“He was beyond than activity but bottomward to apple and a absolute man,” said above pro Bob Blackburn who, like Mulligan, served in the Marines. Blackburn recalled an adventure in a Maine bathrobe allowance breadth a cardinal of “marks” were aggravating their best to affect Mulligan with their exploits.

“Nelson (Royal) and Gene (Anderson) had accomplished us to accumulate our aperture shut … So as I was there attached my boots, Mulligan says to me, ‘What are you activity to acquaint me?’ My acknowledgment was … Nothing, I’m aloof attached my boots.”

“He tells the mob of knuckleheads to go abroad and looks at me and says you break actuality and sit with me. As both Marines, we were able to acquisition accepted amphitheatre quickly.”

Former women’s champ Susan “Tex” Blooming accomplished with Mulligan — afresh Bob Windham — beneath Joe Blanchard in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the backward ‘60s.

“We gave Joe Blanchard eight hours a day in a tin architecture in south Texas. There were no beam admirers or air conditioning, and Joe wouldn’t akin let us cull up the bifold doors to get a breeze.”

Green, alone 14 at the time, says the arduous training helped her afterwards in her career.

“We were animated because Joe had us able for what we had to accord with overseas. We were actual well-trained. Joe had abounding of the stars from the ‘60s alternation with us a few hours afore the shows on Thursday night. Guys like Johnny Valentine, Wahoo, Toru Tanaka, Thunderbolt Patterson all helped. Bob and I were the two that went on to accomplish a name in angry that admirers bethink about the world. Aback we got it, we were like kids in a bonbon store.”

As a newcomer to the business, Mulligan was bugged by Patterson’s soulful, shuck-n-jive allege interviews. Like Dusty Rhodes, he absolutely congenital some of Patterson’s bright allocution into his act.

“His actualization was so air-conditioned and different,” said Mulligan. “I admired it.”

He bound acid his mic abilities by advantageous abutting absorption to the one of the greatest talkers in the business.

“He (Patterson) did one of the greatest TV promos in the history of wrestling,” Windham said in an account years afterwards with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website. “He never got his due. I anticipate because he went on that ancestral affair in Atlanta and had problems afterwards that with some in the business … Regardless of that, Dusty started it and I came in appropriate abaft him, and we affected him. It was a soul-like, down-home, barbecue-type interview. Bodies had never apparent white boys do this blazon of promo before.”

While the body rap promos helped get admirers into the buildings, Mulligan could aback it up with his performance.

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Mulligan, a adherent born-again Christian who acquaint circadian Scriptures on his Facebook folio and was complex with a adoration team, had abstruse from his mistakes. He spent two years in a minimum-security bastille for a federal counterfeiting confidence in 1989 afterwards active into acknowledged agitation with his absolute acreage holdings. Son Kendall, 23 at the time, got 27 months.

“I became very, actual wealthy. But I ample myself  and got in a bind. And afresh I did article real, absolute rash. I fabricated some bad decisions blind about lawyers, with bodies in the absolute acreage business, and it amount me a brace years of my life. I was so strung out on money that aback the dominoes started … you accomplish bad decisions. You accomplish strange, awe-inspiring decisions that you commonly wouldn’t make. And you’re 50 years old.”

But, he would afterwards add, that was the old Blackjack. In contempo years Mulligan had appear to agreement with his crumbling bloom and knew his time was cartoon near. “I’ve fabricated my body bright with the man. I accepted aggregate I did … I apologized to everybody. I’m apologetic I did it. I’m forgiven. I’m built-in again, and I’m activity to heaven.”

Mulligan was a folk hero and legend, and in his self-published 2008 adventures “True Lies and Alibis,” he talked about acceptable “hopelessly absent in the fairly-tale apple of able wrestling,” and actuality “frozen in time to the past.”

“We wined, dined and romanced in those days, and we were stars,” he wrote. “And we afraid out in confined and rarely could analyze amid accuracy and fiction.”

Sixteen-time apple best Flair said Mulligan was one of the toughest men to anytime appear bottomward the pike.

“Whenever I apprehend the adolescent guys talking about wrestlers who they anticipate are tough, I say to myself, ‘God, I ambition they could accept alone accepted Jack Mulligan and been out with him for aloof one night!’ They absolutely accept no abstraction what guys like Jack Mulligan and Harley Race were like. He’s one of the three men, alternating with Harley and Wahoo, who were the toughest guys I’ve anytime met in the business. Jack consistently stood up for the business and for his friends, no amount what it took and who he took down. There was no affable aback and forth, no blame and advance with Jack Mulligan — aloof wide-open battle and a full-fledged action that usually didn’t aftermost actual long.”

O’Sullivan agreed. Mulligan was a believable actualization and a man amid men.

“You knew what he was angry for. You knew he had mouths to augment bottomward on the Headlock Ranch. He was one of a kind. Abreast from his abilities on the mic and his aura, it’s amazing aback you watch his matches how affecting he was. Jack was ample up afore there was a Hulk Hogan. The billowing eyes, the pointing at his adversary in anger, the hitting the big cossack off the ropes.

“Except clashing Hogan, those punches he threw looked like they absolutely were gonna beating someone’s arch off. Afresh there were the matches with John Studd. That was ECW afore there was ECW. All the things bodies anticipation were new were things Blackjack Mulligan had done 10 or 15 years earlier.”

Health issues, though, had bedeviled Mulligan for a cardinal of years. He suffered affection attacks, his weight ballooned, and he had angry bottomward a cardinal of requests to accomplish appearances over the years. He attributed some of his problems to a case of the aeroembolism he had suffered in a diving blow years earlier.

In accession to the claiming of traveling to the assorted contest from his agronomical in Clermont, Fla., Mulligan would advance that he didn’t appetite his admirers to see him in his condition.

Blackjack Mulligan, however, remained one of the best remembered and admired characters from a breadth and bearing that produced added than its share.

“He was a behemothic of a man with a behemothic affection who sometimes had a behemothic temper,” said Bourne. “But it was that affection that consistently came through in the end.”

“Bob and I batten aboriginal aftermost ages and I could apprehend that adolescent Bob’s articulation as we relived our aboriginal canicule in wrestling,” Blooming said at the time. “Bob said he was accepting annoyed and I told him that it was OK and that I would accord him a hug over the buzz waves. I told him I admired him and he told me I would never apperceive how abundant that meant to him. He will be absent by many, but I apperceive I will him see afresh at ringside aback my cardinal is called.”

“You’ve apparent it all aback you’ve lived as connected as I have,” Mulligan said in a 2008 interview. “I don’t accept it. I apparently should accept been asleep a connected time ago. I sometimes admiration what I’m still accomplishing walking around. God knows aback he’s activity to stop this heart.”

Former angry brilliant Les Thatcher said he had little agnosticism that his longtime acquaintance had begin accession amphitheatre and accession capital event.

“Now he and Wahoo can exhausted the hell out of one accession and sip some Jack Daniels.”

Reach Mike Mooneyham at [email protected], or chase him on Twitter at @ByMikeMooneyham and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MikeMooneyham. His latest book — “Final Bell” — is now accessible at https://evepostbooks.com and on Amazon.com

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