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Fred Blassie

In the world of professional heavyweight wrestling, there are the "good guys" and the "bad guys." Some of the latter group is "nasty bad," and others, "dirty bad." Freddie Blassie (B-13) is probably both rolled into one.

Few villains in recent years have quite reached the level of the hatred that is held for Blassie. Most opponents could do without him; most fans despise him. In fact, there was once a poll which labeled Blassie as the most hated of all performers.

The reason for the fans’ hatred of Blassie is obvious. For Fred, it’s not enough merely to vanquish an opponent. He has said many times that he wants to send them to the hospital. And on many occasions he has gotten his wish.

Blassie has now seen action in parts of four decades. But not all of his ring experience has been in wrestling. For a while back in the 1940’s, he was considered a possible contender for boxing’s heavyweight crown.

Then there was the Fred Blassie, the actor. As expected, Blassie has always played the heavy in films and a number of television shows. Back in the ‘50’s, he appeared regularly on such shows as I Love Lucy, Boston Blackie, and Racket Squad. Later he began to make the rounds of the many West Coast talk shows.

After graduating high school in St. Louis, Blassie became a star athlete at St. Louis University, where he was a five-letter man. Then came a stint in the Navy where he won naval boxing and wrestling crowns.

He was primarily a boxer in the mid-forties, although warned by some that his arms weren’t long enough to carry him to the championship. It took a crude beating at the hands of a Two-Ton Tony Galento in 1943 to finally convince him that maybe the experts were right. Shortly thereafter, he devoted his entire professional career to wrestling.

Surprisingly, back in the 1950’s, Freddie Blassie (B-61) was considered to be a "good guy." He rarely resorted to dirty tactics, and hardly ever was booed by the galleries.

But then he noticed that it was the villains that were receiving the bigger paychecks. It was then that Blassie dyed his dark hair blond, and began changing his tactics. And he’s been the villain ever since.

Blassie spent most of his career in the South and Far West, generally avoiding the Eastern arenas. Back in his younger days, he held the Pacific Coast Belt, as well as the Texas, Florida and Southern titles. In fact, no wrestler has held the Southern crown longer than Blassie.

He did come eastward later in his career, and a memorable match Bruno Sammartino drew a packed house at Madison Square Garden. The 21,000 fans were there for two reasons: to cheer their beloved Bruno, and to boo the hated Blassie. Needless to say, the crowd was in for a happy – and hoarse – evening.

Blassie’s most recent share of the headlines came again on the West Coast, where he and his long-time tag-team partner, Buddy Austin, had developed a feud of feuds. It seems that Blassie had accused his partner of chickening out in tight spots, leaving him to be pounded by the opposition.

"He’s a fink," said Blassie, referring to Austin. "He has never learned that in a tag team match, partners depend on each other. I damned near got killed because he was too scared to do what he was supposed to do."

It was considered bad box office to break up the team, but Blassie felt that he had something to prove. Consequently a tag-team was arranged between Blassie and Thunderbolt Patterson against Austin and Bobo Brazil. The match was called a tag-team, but that’s not the way it wound up.

Instead it was a grudge match between the two former teammates. The two continued to claw at each other, until Blassie had finally bloodied and disabled his opponent. Austin refused to leave the ring until he had signed a contract for a return bout. As far as the match that evening was concerned, Patterson and Brazil felt that they had the best seats in the house.

Meanness has been Blassie’s calling card. Yet insiders realize that he is still one of the most skilled matmen in the ring. Under all that evil, has been a truly talented wrestler.

Hall of Fame Wrestling, Fall, 1974, Myron Fass/Stanley R. Harris, Publishers. HALL OF FAME series is published quarterly by Modern Day Periodicals, Inc., 257 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10010. Copyright 1974 by Modern Day Periodicals, Inc.

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