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» WrestlingClassics.com Message Board » Professional Wrestling & General Discussion 2010 - Current » Thunderbolt Patterson, Ron Pope, Bearcat Wright Racial Discrimination Suit

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Author Topic: Thunderbolt Patterson, Ron Pope, Bearcat Wright Racial Discrimination Suit
tamalie from MN
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During the 1970s, Thunderbolt Patterson, Ron Pope, and Bearcat Wright filed a racial discrimination lawsuit in California, alleging that they were unable to get bookings or received inferior bookings due to being black. At the time, Patterson was out of wrestling entirely and was working as a security guard at the Los Angeles Times. Does anyone know exactly when the suit was filed and what kind of settlement came from it, if anything?
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BERT from NJ
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I'm sure Tim Hornbaker had something on this in his NWA book, or at least has done research on it. I personally can't recall right now. Might want to try posting on Thesz board, think Tim at least lurks there occasionally and would reply to something like this. Or maybe Crimson Mask with his "total research recall" may be able to point in the right direction.

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MaskedGoofIV
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Why would Thunderbolt be out of wrestling when he was a decent draw? In the early 1980s, he would be back working in Georgia on the top of the cards.

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Matt Farmer from WA
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quote:
Originally posted by MaskedGoofIV:
Why would Thunderbolt be out of wrestling when he was a decent draw? In the early 1980s, he would be back working in Georgia on the top of the cards.

While I don't doubt these men were discriminated against, both Thunderbolt Patterson and Bearcat Wright were good draws. Bearcat is one of the more underrated draws during the 60's. His tag team with Sweet Daddy Siki is very underrated as draws. They were over huge in both Chicago and Washington DC, when both towns were going through a boom period.

However later in their careers both caused major problems for the promoters. Maybe the promoters deserved they way they were treated, but the facts are Patterson no showed a big card at the Omni in Atlanta, when he was booked in a high profile match up. And Bearcat refused to drop the WWA title, and roughed up a injured Freddie Blassie in the process.

Promoters were no saints, so I don't want to mislead you. Both Patterson and Wright while good draws, weren't reliable so it was hard for the promoters to get behind and really push them. As for Pope, the only quality he had was a good body. He made Jim Hellwig look like Karl Gotch.

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mr. disco
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Hasn't it been pretty well documented that T-Bolt was known for causing trouble for promoters, but despite that, he kept getting booked because he was a good draw?

I know that T-Bolt plays a big part in the Chokehold book (granted, from Wilson's perspective) and that he was supposedly one of the guys who worked outlaw with Wilson, which could have a lot more to do with his alleged blackballing than the color of his skin.

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Matt Farmer from WA
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It's hard to say if he really caused problems for the promoter, or if he was causing the problems because of the promoters. He was known for some big no shows, but we don't know if he was stiffed on a pay off or whatever.

One of Pattersons issues is that they would bring in Dusty who was a bigger draw, but someone who stole T-Bolts gimmick. T-Bolt would say he would work the whole loop, while Dusty would pick the big town main events. When Dusty did this T-Bolt had to move down the card, thus missing out on a bigger pay day.

Of course Patterson wasn't too keen in the ring, and a main event guy would probably prefer to work with Dusty. But I would not dismiss the race card either. Race was a big issue in wrestling during that era. And anyone that does not believe that has a really romatisized view of this industry during that time.

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tamalie from MN
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Thunderbolt Patterson was pushed pretty hard in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Patterson actually got around to quite a few territories, so it surprised me to learn that he was living in Los Angeles while completely out of the business for a while instead of living in his Atlanta home base.
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Tabe
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt Farmer from WA:
One of Pattersons issues is that they would bring in Dusty who was a bigger draw, but someone who stole T-Bolts gimmick. T-Bolt would say he would work the whole loop, while Dusty would pick the big town main events. When Dusty did this T-Bolt had to move down the card, thus missing out on a bigger pay day.

I dunno, I just don't see Dusty as stealing T-Bolt's gimmick. Sure, they both talk in jive, but is that really something that could be considered "belonging to" T-Bolt so that Dusty could steal it?

If anything, T-Bolt is probably mad not that Dusty "stole" the gimmick but that Dusty, on his worst day, was still 10x better at it than T-Bolt was on his best. Hate to break it to Bolt, but saying three words and then going "ooooooooh" like you can't talk anymore just sucks, whether you're over or not.

Tabe

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The Fake J.D. McKay
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Pope was notorious for making trouble. Anywhere there was trouble, Ron was there. He really was a guy I wanted to like so much, but he was an awful worker. I was awful too when I broke in, but I kept working at it and getting a little better here and there. I was in the dressing room when Scott Casey and he got into it over Bearcat Wright. Pope was really offended when Scott told him that Wright wasn't a good worker by the time they worked together. Scott tried to explain it was at the end of Bearcat's career, but Ronny just HAD to be infuriated. He didn't try anything on Scott...he would have lost what little sense he has.

I am sure that the story is probably true. T-Bolt was well known as being thin-skinned. But he had a reason, I am sure. He never was respected for the work he did. He was definitely a draw in Dallas/FW in the late 60's and early 70's.

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tamalie from MN
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When and where did Bearcat Wright last wrestle and how does it fit into the timeline of the discrimination suit?
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Cincinnati Kid
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I've mentioned these points previously with regard to Thunderbolt Patterson:

When I first saw him, it was out of Farhat's Promotion about 1968. At matches, he would be introduced "from the Watts section of Los Angeles". Those with historical knowledge will remember that was only a few years after the riots took place there. Since Patterson is from Waterloo, Iowa, whose idea was it to use that in his introduction? It's obvious now as it was then that it was used to draw heat from a certain segment of the fans.

By the early part of 1969, Patterson was using a young smaller-sized white man as a valet who would accompany him to the ring and sometimes interfere in matches. The valet went by the name of "Man Hamilton" and I have been told his real name was Rick or Richard Hamilton. I understand that this person also served as his driver and did other tasks. To some, this "arrangement" (at least what was seen in that kayfabe time) might draw the ire of some.

How much did Patterson approve of these things which resulted in some racial heat directed at him?

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clawmaster64
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quote:
Originally posted by tamalie from MN:
When and where did Bearcat Wright last wrestle

He came back to JCP for a few bouts in 1975 teaming with Sonny King against Johnny Valentine and Super Destroyer. Valentine had injured Wright the year before and Sonny King came to JCP to gain revenge. These bout were the culmination of that feud.

2/20/75 Norfolk, VA @ Scope Exhibition Hall
Johnny Valentine & Super Destroyer beat Sonny King & Bearcat Wright dq
The Avenger & Swede Hanson beat Brute Bernard & Mr Fuji
Abe Jacobs beat Blue Scorpion dq
Charlie Cook beat George Two Ton Harris
Joe Furr & Klondike Bill beat Ken Dillinger & Mr Hayashi

3/20/75 Norfolk, VA @ Scope Exhibition Hall
No dq Match
Sonny King & Bearcat Wright beat Super Destroyer & Johnny Valentine
Ken Patera beat Ric Flair
Mr Fuji & Blackjack Mulligan beat ?
Doug Gilbert beat ?
Steve Keirn beat ?
Bob Bruggers beat ?

3/22/75 Winston-Salem, NC @ Memorial Coliseum
Bearcat Wright & Sonny King vs Johnny Valentine & Super Destroyer
Mid Atlantic TV Champion Ric Flair vs Paul Jones
Ken Patera vs Blackjack Mulligan
The Avenger & Bob Bruggers vs Brute Bernard & Blue Scorpion
Steve Keirn vs Ken Dillinger
Tio Tio vs Frank Monte
Mr Hayashi vs Mike Stallings

4/19/75 St Petersburg, FL @ Bayfront Center
NWA Champion Jack Brisco beat Terry Funk
Dory Funk Jr beat Harley Race
Handicap Match
Eddie Graham beat Mongolian Stomper & Bearcat Wright
TV Champion Jim Dillon beat Johnny Weaver
Dick Slater beat Chris Markoff via pin
Mike Graham & Tiger Conway Jr beat Doug Somers & Joe Soto
Bob Armstrong beat Roger Kirby
Danny Little Bear beat Dutch Mantel
Danny Hodge drew John Foley
Bob Backlund beat Pat Barrett

5/6/75 Miami Beach, FL @ Convention Center
Dory Funk Jr beat NWA Champion Jack Brisco dq
Eddie Graham & Rocky Johnson & Dusty Rhodes beat Bearcat Wright & Bob Roop & Mongolian Stomper
Mike Graham & Tiger Conway Jr beat Mark Starr & Bob Griffin
Hiro Matsuda beat Danny Hodge
Pepper Gomez beat John Wolfman Smith
Victor Rivera beat Dutch Mantel
Chris Markoff beat Ricky Fields
att: 4,474
Note: Special Tuesday night card. The Convention Center was booked for something else Wednesday night.

5/17/75 St. Petersburg, FL @ Bayfront Center
NWA Champion Jack Brisco dcor Harley Race
Texas Death Match
Tiger Conway Jr beat Jim Dillon to win the TV title
Terry Funk & Eddie Graham & Dick Steinborn beat Bearcat Wright & Bob Roop & Mongolian Stomper
Southern Champion Pepper Gomez beat Roger Kirby
Bob Backlund & Danny Little Bear beat John Foley & Dutch Mantel
Mike Graham bear Ronnie Paul
Doug Somers drew Pat Barrett
Donna Christianello & Diamond Lil beat Joyce Grable & Darling Dagmar

Wright managed Mongolian Stomper in Florida and would wrestle from time to time.

[ 06-08-2010, 01:34 PM: Message edited by: clawmaster64 ]

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Matt Farmer from WA
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quote:
Originally posted by Tabe:
quote:
Originally posted by Matt Farmer from WA:
One of Pattersons issues is that they would bring in Dusty who was a bigger draw, but someone who stole T-Bolts gimmick. T-Bolt would say he would work the whole loop, while Dusty would pick the big town main events. When Dusty did this T-Bolt had to move down the card, thus missing out on a bigger pay day.

I dunno, I just don't see Dusty as stealing T-Bolt's gimmick. Sure, they both talk in jive, but is that really something that could be considered "belonging to" T-Bolt so that Dusty could steal it?

If anything, T-Bolt is probably mad not that Dusty "stole" the gimmick but that Dusty, on his worst day, was still 10x better at it than T-Bolt was on his best. Hate to break it to Bolt, but saying three words and then going "ooooooooh" like you can't talk anymore just sucks, whether you're over or not.

Tabe

Your probably right, I used the word stole, because that is what T-Bolt always claimed. Yet the time line doesn't really match up either. Rhodes was doing some jive talk before he may have ever came around Patterson.

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King Francis
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Matt, I think you were right the first time, even BlackJack M. said in his book how much he and Dusty stole from T'bolt. He would have to move down on the card or work in a smaller town when Dusty decided to work a big town.

Frank

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Matt Farmer from WA
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Dusty borrowed a lot from Blackjack too. Dusty and Billy Graham worked off eachother too.

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clawmaster64
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6/9/69 Fort Worth, TX
Johnny Valentine beat Fritz Von Erich to win American Title
Jose Lothario & Waldo Von Erich beat Baron Von Raschke & Buster Lloyd
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Jack Curtis
Dusty Rhodes beat Reggie Parks

Alex Perez drew Bobby Duncum

6/11/69 San Antonio, TX @ Municipal Auditorium
TV Taping, First Time in Color
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Buster Lloyd
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Gorilla Lopez
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Alex Perez

Wahoo McDaniel beat Alex Perez
Baron Von Raschke & Dusty Rhodes beat Reggie Parks & Pedro Valdez
Baron Von Raschke & Dusty Rhodes beat Jose Lothario & Montez

Bobby Duncum beat Pedro Valdez
Jose Lothario beat Raffles
Baron Von Raschke beat Montez
George Gaiser drew Bobby Duncum
Buster Lloyd drew Reggie Parks

6/13/69 Houston, TX @ Sam Houston Coliseum
Wahoo McDaniel ddq Johnny Valentine in 3rd fall
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Alex Perez 2-0
Bull Curry beat Buster Lloyd in 24 seconds
Gary Hart beat Reggie Parks
Dusty Rhodes beat Pedro Valdez
Bobby Duncum beat Bulldog Danny Plechas

As you can see, the time line matches up perfectly. When Dusty went to Florida circa 1970, Dick Murdoch did the talking for him.

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We bled inside each others wounds
We all had caught the same disease
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clawmaster64
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And when Dusty debuted in Florida, who was there? Thunderbolt Patterson.

9/10/70 Jacksonville, FL @ Coliseum
Jack Brisco beat Southern Champion Great Mephisto
El Lobo must unmask if he loses the match
El Lobo beat Thunderbolt Patterson

The Kentuckian beat Dale Lewis
Argentina Apollo & Jose Lothario beat Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch dq
Mr. Jacksonville & Danny Miller & Bob Roop beat Mr Saito & Ali Baba & Flash Monroe
Bob Brunell beat Pat Valentino
Joe Flaherty beat Bob Valentino

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We bled inside each others wounds
We all had caught the same disease
And we all sang the songs of peace"-- Melanie Safka

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tamalie from MN
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Anyone got info on when T-Bolt was in Los Angeles and when the suit was filed? This topic still interests me, but it's hard to find much info on it.
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Gerry K. Fabian
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quote:
Originally posted by clawmaster64:
6/9/69 Fort Worth, TX
Johnny Valentine beat Fritz Von Erich to win American Title
Jose Lothario & Waldo Von Erich beat Baron Von Raschke & Buster Lloyd
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Jack Curtis
Dusty Rhodes beat Reggie Parks

Alex Perez drew Bobby Duncum

6/11/69 San Antonio, TX @ Municipal Auditorium
TV Taping, First Time in Color
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Buster Lloyd
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Gorilla Lopez
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Alex Perez

Wahoo McDaniel beat Alex Perez
Baron Von Raschke & Dusty Rhodes beat Reggie Parks & Pedro Valdez
Baron Von Raschke & Dusty Rhodes beat Jose Lothario & Montez

Bobby Duncum beat Pedro Valdez
Jose Lothario beat Raffles
Baron Von Raschke beat Montez
George Gaiser drew Bobby Duncum
Buster Lloyd drew Reggie Parks

6/13/69 Houston, TX @ Sam Houston Coliseum
Wahoo McDaniel ddq Johnny Valentine in 3rd fall
Thunderbolt Patterson beat Alex Perez 2-0
Bull Curry beat Buster Lloyd in 24 seconds
Gary Hart beat Reggie Parks
Dusty Rhodes beat Pedro Valdez
Bobby Duncum beat Bulldog Danny Plechas

As you can see, the time line matches up perfectly. When Dusty went to Florida circa 1970, Dick Murdoch did the talking for him.

I believe they also overlapped in Amarillo in the late '60s. This, too, was before Dusty did the jive talk.

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Travlr
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quote:
Originally posted by Cincinnati Kid:
When I first saw [Thunderbolt Patterson], it was out of Farhat's Promotion about 1968...

You also made mention of t-Bolt still being there in '69; was he still there by early 1970?

Because guess who shows up for both Farhat and Tunney in March of that year.....?

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a fan since '68....

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EVAD
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Buddy Colt: Like in Atlanta, for a little while they put Bearcat Wright with me.

CM: That was a little later on, right?

Buddy Colt: Well, that was about, that was after the split, so like 1973. (Actually ‘74---ed. note) At this point there was a lot of discrimination going on in
Atlanta, and Thunderbolt Patterson had filed a lawsuit against the NWA, and Bearcat had called Barnett wanting to work, and saying that
wrestling ’owed him something’, but he was sick, I think he had sickle-cell anemia which he eventually died from, and couldn’t perform
properly in the ring. And if he had gone to the big civil rights leaders, the Jesse Jacksons or Al Sharptons, in Georgia at the time, and
claimed that we were discriminating against black wrestlers and not using them properly---which wasn’t true, Thunderbolt Patterson was
a star, Bobo Brazil when he came in was always a star, main event---it still could have caused trouble for the office, and just to avoid that,
Barnett came up with the idea of using him as my manager. And it was at a time when I didn‘t want Bearcat Wright as my manager, so I said, “No,” I said, “why don’t we call him my ‘advisor’.” And so he was my ‘advisor’ in Atlanta, and that lasted maybe five or six months. But I want it clear that this idea that we were discriminating against black wrestlers was complete absolute horse ****.

CM: Okay, what about Bearcat? This is a guy you hear the most mixed things about over the course of his career.

Buddy Colt: Well, he was a… arrogant racist. Another guy who was like that was Thunderbolt. Bearcat was always taking apart, he said, “Well, yeah, you know, those damn racist promoters, they said I was from Jamaica”, and all, and I said, “Well, you know, Bearcat, it’s no different from
all these guys that claim to be Russian, they’re not from Russia, they’re from Alabama. It makes no difference, it just gives a little individual personality versus being from Tampa, Florida,“ but he was still upset that the promoters wanted to call him from Jamaica or wherever---I think it was Jamaica they said he was from…

CM: Yeah it was, but, ****, that was ten, fifteen years before that…

Buddy Colt: Yeah. And he was still upset about it. They ‘wouldn’t let him be black’, or whatever.

CM: He built up a terrible reputation for double-crosses and no-shows.

Buddy Colt: Oh yeah. That’s why the promoters didn’t want to do business with him. And Thunderbolt Patterson, same thing. Some of the black guys, they were the racists, not the white guys. Not all, but some.

CM: Yeah, with Bearcat there was that whole deal in LA where he double-crossed Freddie Blassie, then stole the belt.

Buddy Colt: Yeah. If you don’t want to do a job, tell them up front. Make yourself known. Don’t pull a double-cross.

CM: There was the other thing in Chicago in the ‘60s where he was supposed to go over Moose Cholak, and they got into some kind of
altercation in the dressing room and Bearcat showed him that he was taking a pair of brass knuckles to the ring in his tights, and
Cholak who was a big huge 350-pound guy who had been both a legit boxer and wrestler, threw out the finish and just wiped the floor with him.

Buddy Colt: I can see Bearcat doing that. Bearcat was that kind of guy.

CM: Hell of it was, I always thought he was talented as hell in the ring. I think if he hadn’t shot himself in the foot, he would have been bigger than Bobo.

Buddy Colt: He would have been bigger at the box office than Bobo Brazil and he had more personality than Bobo. Bobo was solid, and a good
worker, but not a lot of color.

CM: Okay, you mentioned Thunderbolt, let’s get this out of the way: his good buddy Jim Wilson.

Buddy Colt: Thunderbolt had got to the point that he wasn’t showing up for his matches, or when he did he was stoned, and Jim Wilson was worse.
And they were buddies, and they both wanted to be booked in main events, and they filed a lawsuit against the NWA, and against the Atlanta office, saying that they weren’t used properly, which wasn‘t true. The thing was that Thunderbolt Patterson was a star, and Jim Wilson wasn’t. They put him in the main event in Athens, Georgia, because he had played football and been an All-American there, but when you’re a star, you prove yourself to be the quality to be in the main event, and Thunderbolt Patterson was a big draw if he stayed away from the drugs and the dope, but Jim Wilson on his best day couldn’t draw a dime or work a lick. We were working a deal to send them to Japan, we would have sent them anywhere. We made some kind of settlement in the lawsuit, I think, just to get rid of it, because it had been an ongoing thing.

more: http://www.georgiawrestlinghistory.com/conversations/buddycolt/04.html

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tamalie from MN
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Coming back to this thread, the references to the suit in the above thread are helpful, but aren't the suit I'm interested in learning about. It looks like T-Bolt and Bearcat got something going in Georgia around 1974, but the one they paired up on with Ron Pope came later in California. Any ideas?
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