Jonathan Boyd's death barely made
a blip on the wrestling news radar. That's not too surprising. Last I heard of him
wrestling was in Memphis before he moved back to Oregon in 1987.
But it seems like just yesterday that I was in
the San Antonio office and Boyd was throwing an irrational tantrum about something. John
Boyd was one of the first bookers I ever worked with and one of the oddest individuals I
ever met in this business.
When the best teams of the 80s are listed, Boyd
and Luke Williams probably arent mentioned, but they should be. The
Sheepherders were pure violence. They drew money in Alabama and were the perfect heel
combination to work with the recently formed combination of Steve Keirn and Stan
Lane in Tennessee.
I first hooked up with Jonathan Boyd in Texas in
the mid-80s. Joe Blanchard had just brought me into the San Antonio office and Luke
Williams was booking. Boyd was his assistant.
Rather than giving the typical chronological bio
and "wasn't he great" platitudes, here are some stories that demonstrate what
made this man unique, even in the context of the wrestling business.
John Boyd was the only guy I ever knew that
had a DeLorean automobile. It was only fitting that Boyd would own a car that would
have such a strange albeit short history. Boyd's wrestling career was thought to be over
when he was involved in a horrible automobile accident that wrecked his back and broke his
legs. Not only did Boyd rehabilitate to the point he could walk; he resumed his wrestling
career. It was a testament to both his toughness and his dedication to the wrestling
There wasn't a line Boyd wouldn't cross to
draw heat. Boyd's interviews were effective. They were nastier than they were clever,
but they were effective. Joe Blanchard was promoting San Antonio and his hip had
deteriorated to the point he walked with a pronounced limp. Boyd was managing all the
heels in the territory and was barely off crutches. They wrestled each other on television
to further an angle. Boyd delighted in referring to the match on television as,
"Cripple vs. Cripple." Boyd's heat came from being anti-American. On one
interview, he was doing his tirade about how much he hated America and we had to edit out
his comment: "And I hope all your babies die."
How tough were John Boyd and Scott Casey? I'll
never forget a match these two had in Corpus Christi, TX. They were wrestling a barbwire
match with the ring ropes being completely encircled with barbwire. At one point, Boyd
told Casey to throw him out of the ring. Casey hesitated at first, but Boyd insisted. Boyd
was thrown through the barbwire onto the floor. Boyd then had to climb through the
barbwire back into the ring. Not to be outdone, Casey insisted on taking the same bump.
You could actually hear the crowd grimace.
Nobody could throw a tantrum better than John
Boyd. When Boyd got the book in San Antonio, he went on a power trip that would make Jimmy
Johnson proud. He used to boast to other wrestlers that no one worked for promoter Fred
Behrend but him. All the wrestlers worked for Boyd and not Behrend. At one point, Boyd
got a magazine to run a feature on him if Boyd provided the article. Boyd asked me to
write it and I told him that I get paid for magazine pieces. A week later I was refereeing
a card in Waco. I was in one of the dressing rooms (in the days of separate dressing
rooms) and Boyd asked me if I had written the piece yet. I told him again that I wouldn't
do it unless the magazine paid me. Boyd threw a fit. His bald head went beet red while
yelling and screaming. He screamed that he wanted me to repeat every finish the boys gave
me word for word. The Grappler, Len Denton, got a kick out of Boyd's
instructions and went out of his way to give me an especially long, complicated finish for
his match - in carny (a coded language that wrestlers occasionally speak to each other).
"Pretentious? Moi?" While he
was in the office Boyd decided that he no longer wanted to make phone calls himself. He
told the two women that worked in the office, to call who he wanted to talk to and then
ask them to hold for Boyd. "That way, I sound more important," Boyd explained.
Boyd got into trouble for keeping a wrestler on the roster that had absolutely no talent
but had agreed to drive Boyd around and carry his stuff.
John Boyd: Ladies Man. It was amazing to
watch Boyd around women. He had a bald head with a ton of scar tissue, a gray beard and
tattoos. He had a decent physique for that era, but he would never be confused with Kerry
Von Erich. Yet he strutted around like he was James Bond. One of the biggest
laughs we ever got in the office was when Janie noticed an attractive teenage girl walking
across the street from the window. Boyd goes, "Watch this," takes off his shirt
and stands outside with his hands on his hips. Janie looks at me in shock and goes,
"Does he really think this is bothering her?!?!"
John Boyd: Ladies Man II. At one point
Boyd, in his early-to-mid 40s, started seeing this 15-year-old girl from Houston. When we
asked Boyd if he was worried about going to jail, Boyd told us that he had a signed
consent form from the girl's father. If it could possibly be worse, the age difference was
accentuated by the fact that Boyd's bald head, gray beard and tattered body made him look
even older. At one point, Al Madril said to Boyd, "I think it's great that
you're dating her. When you go to the movies, she can get in on the child ticket and you
get the senior citizen discount. You must be saving a fortune."
One punch knockout. When John Boyd was
booking, he brought Killer Brooks in for television tapings at Gilley's. We shot
two shows a night and gave Brooks two wins. After Brooks' second match, he packed up his
gear and prepared to leave as normal. Boyd was standing at the urinal and, without any
warning, Brooks came up from behind and sucker punched him. A few years later I asked
Brooks why he knocked out Boyd. "I just never liked him."
Boyd was found dead Aug. 7 in his duplex in
Oregon. He was found by his first wife, who despite being divorced for many years, still
shared the house even after Boyd remarried and later divorced. He had undergone back
surgery a few weeks earlier and it is thought the heart attack may be related.
Of all the times the cliché "gone but not
forgotten" is used, it's fair to say that anyone that knew John Boyd will never
Mark Nulty is a
professional journalist that has been in the professional wrestling industry since the
mid-80s as an announcer, referee and promoter.
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