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I Guess We Looked Like We Needed the Work

By Frank Dusek

I was looking through the lineup cards for This Week in Wrestling. I discovered the name of an old friend, Tor Kamata. On April 18, 1970, Tor was part of a big card at the old Philadelphia Arena.

In the summer of 1979, Tor was working for Fritz von Erich (B-19) in Dallas. Although Tor and I came from vastly difference worlds, we hit it off immediately. We traveled together, ate together and even went to the gym together.

In 1979 the radical concept of World Class Championship Wrestling, with its rock and roll music and four camera shoots was not yet even a dream. Fritz ran the territory in the old, traditional way. We were stars, but nothing on the scale of what was to come a few years later under the guidance of Ken Mantel.

The gym where we worked out was located in an old building in a run down portion of downtown Dallas. This place was truly a "sweat box", much like the gym the character "Clubber Lang" used in Rocky 3. There was no air conditioning or showers. . Fans provided the only ventilation. Someone had used a sledgehammer to knock a hole in a brick wall to open up more space for a ring. Like I said, this was an old-style boxing & wrestling gym.

Early one morning, Tor and I were sitting outside the gym, waiting for it to open. As you can imagine, we weren't dressed in our best togs. I can't recall what Tor was wearing, but I had on an old pair of sweat pants, bandanna, a faded T-shirt and a pair of sandals.

As we waited, we saw one of those temporary work force vans slowly drive by. You know the kind that carries temporary workers to some minimum wage, horrid job that no one else wants to do.

A few minutes later, the van approached again. This time it pulled to the curb in the street in front of Tor and me.

The passenger in the front seat rolled down his window and leaned out. "You guys want to work today?" he asked.

I looked at Tor. It was all we could do to keep straight faces. "You want to work today?" I asked Tor.

After a sew seconds consideration he slowly shook his head and muttered, "no." I agreed.

"You sure?" the guy asked, giving us one more chance to change our minds and do something productive with our day.

"We're sure," I answered and the van pulled away from the curb. After that I always took a little more care in how I looked when I left the house.

After all I reasoned I'd never become a wrestling star if I kept being confused with the winos outside the Sportatorium!

Frank Dusek is a second-generation wrestler from one of the most famous wrestling families ever. He had a solid career as a wrestler and later managed several wrestlers to major titles. He also spent time as a broadcaster, promoter and matchmaker. His first memories of the wrestling business are selling programs for his father when he was 4 years old.

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1999 Content: Frank Dusek, Mark Nulty
1999 Design: Jan Herod
Advanced Programming and Web Editing: Dave and Kim Kandz