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The Strange Life and Times of Jonathan Boyd
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By Mark Nulty

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 aren’t 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 business.

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 forget him.

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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