Friday, October 7, 2016


     Before the world-wide internet, there were many who felt that they were alone in their fondness for the days of wrestling’s past, the days of “kayfabe.” Now technology has brought together groups of like-minded individuals from around the world, who share memories, discuss and learn about the wrestling product they grew up with or only read about in the wrestling magazines! Below are some great old school wrestling facebook group pages that it’d be worth your while to checkout. Join the groups and join the fun!

When it was Big Time Wrestling further discusses the Northern California wrestling territory with wrestling results, discussions, pictures, video clips and more!

Olympic Auditorium & SoCal Wrestling Classics focuses on the Southern
California wrestling territory from the late 1800s to the end of 1982. Torres, Thesz, Moto, Blassie, Tolos, Mascaras, Piper, Mayne,
the Destroyer, the Guerreros and more!

Ray Stevens: Wrestling Hall of Famer explores the career of one of pro wrestling’s greatest performers and most colorful personalities both in and out of the ring!

Lonnie “Moondog” Mayne: Hall of Famer celebrate the life and career of one of pro wrestling’s most memorable personalities. Whether you loved or you hated him, you just had to see what the Moondog would do next!


    The cover art for  When It Was Big Time: A 100 Year History of Northern California Pro Wrestling was recently completed, bringing the highly anticipated 350-page book project one step closer to release. More rare photos have also been recently contributed, bringing the number of photos contained to over 230, some of which have never been published! This includes a newly added 12-page photo gallery, but photos, ads and images of Northern California wrestling arena programs are spread throughout the book, greatly enhancing the epic story of one of pro wrestling's most exciting territories!
     At this point, release of this book is expected within the first half of November 2016, just in time for Christmas. More details on the books contents as well as a specific release date and ordering information will be released in the coming weeks. Please continue to tune if for those updates.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Stating that he was honored to be asked to write the foreword to 25-year pro wrestling veteran and 2-time NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champ Ron Starr's autobiography, pro wrestling legend Mick Foley lends insight into his great matches with Ron Starr that took place over 25 years ago. The WWE Hall of Famer squared off against Starr in a brief but very memorable feud back in 1989 when Foley was wrestling as "Cactus Jack" in the Continental Wrestling Federation, which was based out of Pensacola, Florida. Mick's brilliantly written foreword details the lessons learned from working with the veteran Ron Starr, why he has a high level of respect for him, and why his is a story worth reading.
     Starr's autobiography, entitled "Bad the Bone: 25 Years of Wrestling and Riots", is expected to be released at the end of 2016. Please stay tuned for further updates.

(Click the following link to watch a thrilling TV wrestling match between Rotten Ron Starr and Mick "Cactus Jack" Foley!)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rotten Ron Starr Autobiography coming soon! - by Rock Rims

     “My job as a pro wrestler was to piss people off and my goal was that no matter what, when they left the wrestling arena, the fans were going to remember Ron Starr. Between my work in the ring and the fact that it probably resulted in more than one hundred riots, I figure I accomplished both.”

     “Rotten” Ron Starr believes that he was destined to become a professional wrestler and he fulfilled that dream, enjoying over 40 wrestling title reigns across North America and in Puerto Rico during his 25-year pro wrestling career. His story is a fascinating and informative look into the world of professional wrestling during its territory-system days, before as some feel, pro wrestling became circus-like, and when it was very real for pro wrestling fans.

     Bad to the Bone: 25 Years of Riots and Wrestling contains Ron’s story of being a life-long wrestling fan, the drama he was a part of during his two tours of Viet Nam during the war, and a behind-the-scenes look at his life as a pro wrestler whose career took him all over the world and led to his becoming a two-time World Junior Heavyweight Champion. His ups and downs in the business are discussed, including his battles with wrestling promoters and the truth about their attempts to blackball him from the business. There will also be some interesting and often funny stories about his adventures and misadventures in and out of the ring, and the friendships he formed with other pro wrestling legends, including Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, Karl Gotch, Danny Hodge, Dutch Savage, Adrian Adonis and many more.

     Pictures, stories of practical jokes or “ribs”, stories of dressing room brawls and road stories are also included in a journey that takes us across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Guatemala, Japan and China. Ron Starr is a natural-born storyteller and reading his book will make you feel as if you are sitting across the table from him one-on-one.

     Hopes are that the book will be printed and released in time for the 2016 Holiday Season. Please stay tuned for further updates.

Northern California Pro Wrestling History Book Coming Soon! -- by Rock Rims

     Mozart. Picasso. Billie Holiday. Jerry Lee Lewis. Elvis Presley. John Lennon. These are just a few of the artists, whether visual or musical, who have passed through history, though their bodies of work live on, to be acknowledged, enjoyed and discussed by generations to follow. Unfortunately for fans of the art form of pro wrestling, the histories of many pro wrestling eras, territories and personalities have not received the level of documentation and acknowledgement they so richly deserve, but that will soon change for the Northern California Pro Wrestling Territory.

     William Muldoon. Ad Santel. Ed “Strangler” Lewis. Ben & Mike Sharpe. Leo Nomellini. Ray Stevens. Pat Patterson. Rocky Johnson. Peter Maivia. Moondog Mayne. The list goes on and on for the amazing pro wrestling performers who made an impact on the Northern California Pro Wrestling scene and the pro wrestling business in general, performers who contributed to making the Northern California pro wrestling territory one of the most exciting, memorable and financially lucrative in the pre-national expansion era of professional wrestling. And now their story and the story of the territory will be told.

     With over 300 pages and nearly two hundred photographs, some never published, When it was Big Time: A 100-Year History of Northern California Pro Wrestling, chronicles the evolution of pro wrestling in Northern California, including the record-setting events and the wrestlers whose performances and larger-than-life personalities transported those who watched them into a world; a world where they bore witness to morality plays consisting of epic battles of good vs. evil in intriguing storylines involving characters reminiscent of the gods of Greek & Roman mythology.

     With plans to be released in the fall of 2016, the in-depth researched book by pro wrestling research/writer Rock Rims, includes the major events and storylines of the territory’s history as well as interviews with some of the wrestlers, ring announcers, and photographers who worked for San Francisco wrestling promoter Roy Shire. A pro wrestling book unlike any other, it will also include memories of several of the wrestling fans who witnessed firsthand many of the incredible storylines produced by Promoter Shire and both the TV and live arena performances which produced such fond memories for them. This will take fans back in time to the seats they occupied when first viewing the product, and for fans who had never been privileged to witness that product themselves, it will make them understand why it is so fondly remembered and why people have been demanding for a book of this nature for decades.

     This book will also go behind the scenes to discuss and reveal the truth of some of the most notorious incidents in the territory’s history and events that led to its eventual decline. Please stay tuned for future updates.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wrestling Legends: Rowdy Roddy Piper -- There will never be another, by Rock Rims

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper and his "Army" in Los Angeles

It was billed as World War III. On June 25, 1976, in what was billed as a bout for the World Martial Arts Championship, boxer Muhammad Ali was scheduled to square off against wrestler Antonio Inoki in Tokyo, Japan, in a confrontation the world would be watching. With a $10 million total purse and with ringside seats going for a then-unprecedented $1,000 a pop, the event was receiving a mind-blowing amount of media coverage. And in the final week before the match, Muhammad Ali was in Los Angeles for his final opportunity to hype the bout with hopes of increasing closed-circuit TV revenue.

     A press conference was being held at the world famous Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, a hallowed building for both boxing and wrestling events, and Ali, ever the promotional master, issued a challenge to a young wrestler sitting nearby to enter the ring with him. The 22 year-old-Canadian wrestler entered the ring, not knowing what to expect and when Ali, who had been boasting that no wrestler could defeat him, locked up with the grappler and whispered to him, “Hip toss,” he was quite surprised. But he did what he was told and Ali ended up with his back on the mat. While Ali was obviously trying to increase buzz over his impending bout with Inoki, hoping that wrestling fans would fork over there cash in hopes of seeing a pro wrestler defeat a boxer, that young wrestler, Roddy Piper, was also convinced that Ali was looking to give him a break.

     “Muhammad Ali was such a great man,” said Piper many years later. “He saw this skinny kid just sitting there that needed a break, and right in the middle of everything, he just …boom! – gave me a rub. I’m up. He continued on. That’s a great man.” While he undoubtedly was appreciative of what he felt was the boxing champ’s effort to ‘give him a rub’ and boost the attention that the young wrestler would receive, for the wrestling fans of Los Angeles, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was most definitely already “up.”

     It was only five months before that the young man who claimed to be from Glasgow, Scotland but was in fact born and raised in Canada, had arrived in promoter Mike Lebell’s Southern California wrestling territory. After an inauspicious start, territory booking genius Leo Garibaldi had the idea to turn the young baby face or “good guy” wrestler into a “heel”, a wrestling “bad guy.” And the rest as they say, is history.

     Less than two months after that fateful decision to turn Roddy Piper heel, he was the holder of the Jules Strongbow Scientific Trophy, a co-holder of the America’s tag team titles and had recently defeated his nemesis Chavo Guerrero for the America’s Heavyweight Wrestling title. While Guerrero was definitely the top baby face of the late 70’s in Southern California and a great draw, a territory is only as good as its best heel, and Piper was inarguably that top heel. He was the Joker to Chavo’s Batman, the great antagonist that every would-be hero needs to battle in hopes of achieving heroic status. For what need would there be for a hero if there was no villain to overcome?

     The pairing of Piper and Guerrero was magic for the wrestling promotion and gave it the boost it needed after the previous Freddie Blassie-John Tolos feud had run its course. With his charisma and gift of gab, Piper was phenomenal at inciting the hatred of his fans and opponents alike. And the culture of the largely-Latino fan base as well Chavo Guerrero and his wrestling family members comprised Piper’s favorite targets. Whether it was by offering to play the “Mexican national anthem” on his bagpipes, only to follow that offer by playing “La Cucaracha” on the instrument; or by wearing a t-shirt that said “Conqueror of the Guerreros”; or by hurling insults at a mile-a-minute during one of his high-energy interviews, people hated the things they saw and heard from him but loved that they were there to witness it.

     Roddy Piper may have started his career a few years before entering California, but California was the first real platform he was provided to display what he had to offer to the wrestling world. It was the first place he was given the ball to run and run he did. And just like Walter Payton in his prime NFL years, they gave Piper the ball over and over, and he ran and ran and ran. It wasn’t unheard of for him to appear in or near the wrestling ring for the majority of the night, in a single’s bout, a tag bout and as a wrestling manager. For the better part of three years, he was the “go-to” guy of the Southern California promotion.

     It wasn’t long before the wrestling czar of the northern part of the state, Roy Shire, brought the “Lean, Mean Machine” as Piper called himself, up to Northern California for occasional appearances to see how the fans responded to him. Fans in some of the towns up north had seen his antics via broadcasts of L.A.’s “Lucha Libre” television show, telecast in Spanish over the Spanish International Network. While Piper’s charisma and star power were certainly out of this world, at first he didn’t lend much to the first several live wrestling cards he appeared on for Shire. But eventually he found himself in another memorable feud, this time with United States Champion Lonnie “Moondog” Mayne.

     It’s hard to imagine that as memorable as the Piper-Mayne feud was for Northern California wrestling fans tuning into it during the summer of 1978, that the “feud” only consisted of a mere three matches over a five week period. Oh, but what a feud it was! The intensity of their matches was unbridled, and the fans in attendance at those live events in San Francisco’s Cow Palace were on the edge of their seats during the entirety the bouts. Even so, it’s safe to say that their promotional TV interviews building up to the matches were even more of a highlight.

     In Los Angeles, the TV show was taped lived and everything moved just a little faster than they did in San Francisco’s shows. Both men gave compelling interviews but Piper, having the edge in his gift of gab and ability to verbally improvise, was truly remarkable. But with the interviews in Sacramento’s KTXL studios being taped after the matches were taped and with more time being allotted for the interviews, wrestling fans in Northern California were able to enjoy more of Piper’s manic and extremely entertaining rants. But regardless of what part of California he was doing interviews for, he made the fans alternately yell in anger and laugh out loud over what he said and did.

     Roddy Piper may have started in Canada, may have made an impact virtually everywhere he went after that, and was thrust into the national spotlight in the World Wrestling Federation during the 80’s, but it was in California during the late 70’s that Roddy Piper first became a wrestling star. – RR

Source for Roddy Piper’s comments:

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper talks about handing his nickname over to Ronda Rousey, by Sarah Kurchak, Fight Land Blog

Friday, August 1, 2014

Wrestling Legends: Dick Steinborn: Always Moving, and Moving Forward - By Rock Rims


Dick Steinborn
“You killed him! You murderer!”

     These chilling words echoed in the mind of the young man as tears rolled down his face. Just a few hours earlier he had felt the tremendous excitement and satisfaction that one feels when realizing the fulfillment of a lifelong dream, one that was made all the more important by the fact that he was following in his beloved father’s footsteps. In no time at all it seemed as if the dream had become a nightmare, one he was sure to re-live over and over in his mind, perhaps for the rest of his life. Being only 17 years of age, it was understandably not something that young Dick Steinborn was looking forward to.


The Strength of My Father


     Born the son of legendary strongman, professional wrestler and promoter Henry “Milo” Steinborn, Dick had loved wrestling ever since he could remember and became quite adept at it, receiving instruction from his father and also many of the professional wrestlers who frequented the basement gym of his family’s home during their time living in New York.

     “My dad had a stake in the New York wrestling office along with Toots Mondt and Rudy Miller, and when I was 14 years of age,” says Dick. “He’d always invite the boys to his gymnasium in the basement of our apartment building in Queens, New York. I remember that Stu Hart was beginning to make a name for himself in New York and he’d come down to the gym on Sundays and work out on the mat with my brother and me.”

     Dick took to wrestling like a fish to water, just as he did to almost everything he ever tried, including the 17 different sports he would involve himself with at one time or another during his life. “My dad always said, ‘Dickie can never keep still, he’s always moving.’” At one point Dick Steinborn was diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder, and while it was difficult at times to focus his attention, whatever did catch his attention was something he typically excelled at. It was no different with wrestling.

     He and his brother Henry excelled in amateur wrestling while attending Trinity High School in New York, enough so that the coach from Columbia University placed them both on the school’s Junior Varsity team while the teens were still enrolled in High School. While that was some achievement in itself, Dick, who was easily the better athlete of the two brothers, had greater aspirations. Like his father, he wanted to enter the ranks of professional wrestling. 

     Milo Steinborn, whom Lou Thesz called “The strongest man I ever wrestled,” was admired greatly by Dick for both his accomplishments in the ring and his character as a man. “Dad was the Babe Ruth of the sports world for a few years,” Dick would say. The training Milo provided his son in the weight room and on the mat made Dick’s body strong and well prepared for the physical rigors of life in the ring, but the mental preparation would prove to have even greater value to Dick both in the ring and out of it. “I owe him everything I have,” his son said with appreciation. “Not just in a physical sense but also my training of mind.”

     Still a few months shy of his 18th birthday, Dick was unable to obtain a license to wrestle as a professional in New York, but to his delight, he was able to receive both a professional wrestler’s license and a booking in the state of Maryland. So it was with great excitement and anticipation that Dick would board the train from Astoria, Queens to make the 175 mile trek to Baltimore. He would be appearing in a “dark match” to precede the matches that were to be televised from the Baltimore Coliseum. 

     On that special night on July 24, 1951, for Dick, the noise of the crowd was near-deafening and the atmosphere was electric, and despite it being his very first pro match, the match went smoothly. Approaching the finish of the match, Dick escaped from a headlock that was applied by his opponent Les Ruffin, by whipping him into the ropes. When Ruffin rebounded off the ropes, Dick, who had greatly strengthened his legs with specialized training, leapfrogged over the man (“few people were doing the leapfrog in those days”) and as Dick reached the peak of his leap, he saw a most curious thing.

     “A shoe flew into the ring, which must’ve been meant to strike Ruffin, who was the heel, and I watched it as it arched like a rainbow and sailed over the both of us almost as if in slow-motion.”  The shoe may have missed its mark, but Dickie hadn’t as he had managed to secure the victory over his veteran opponent. His first in-ring experience was a thrilling one and he enjoyed the hearty congratulations he was receiving in the dressing room after the match. This was something he could certainly get used to. But the mood was about to quickly change. 

     Several men had suddenly burst into the room carrying the body of a man that they then laid out on a nearby table. That alone was an expected occurrence but there was something else that Dick found odd. 

     “I noticed that the guy only had one shoe on. And so I said to the boys, ‘Look, fellas, he must be the guy who threw the shoe in the ring!’” The man on the table was dead, and while it was certainly an unfortunate occurrence, like sharks smelling blood, the veteran wrestlers in the dressing room also saw it as an opportunity for a rib and to break in the rookie.

     “’You killed him!’ says one of the boys, and another one added, ‘you murderer!’” recalls Steinborn. “I began to think that something I had done in the ring really did kill the guy. What those guys didn’t realize was that I had the strength of my father, but the emotions of my mother.”

     Devastated, the 17 year-old-rookie wrestler quickly grabbed his bag and headed for the train station. The train ride home to New York felt much longer than the ride into Baltimore as his emotional anguish caused tears to stream down his face during the entire trip back home. He had determined in his mind that his first match would be his last.

     But Milo offered words of comfort to his son and Dick was further consoled by the fact that no one really held him responsible for the death of the one-shoed man, and that in fact it was the combination of the man’s pre-existing ill health and his drunkenness that night which had caused his fatal heart attack. The following week Dick would return to Baltimore for yet another wrestling match and victory, and the rest as they say, is history.

     “I’ve wrestled in 44 states and 14 different countries,” says Steinborn of the career that spanned 33 years and included over three dozen wrestling title reigns. “Wrestling’s been my life.  It’s been a love.  You can’t destroy the love of a passion that you have.” 




VS. Antonio Inoki in Japan
     Through the years his love and passion for professional wrestling would grow as well as his ability in the ring and his ability to grasp the finer points of the game. While he speaks of such wrestling bookers and promoters he worked with along the way, like Roy Shire, Leo Garibaldi, and Tom Renesto as “geniuses”, he learned from such men and some of the ring performers he worked with, borrowing some ideas and creating original ones of his own, to become a master storyteller in his own right.

     “One of the greatest workers I ever saw was Dickie Steinborn in Georgia,” recalled former wrestler Dutch Mantell. “He was the smoothest, greatest wrestler I’ve ever seen.  I remember some of the greatest matches I ever saw were between Jody Hamilton, “the Assassin”, and Dick Steinborn…this is when they used all the psychology, when they had the fans standing and crying.  I mean if you watched it, you actually believed it.  It was that good.”

     Jody Hamilton also fondly remembers those matches as well, citing Steinborn as his all-time favorite opponent. “We once did a 2 hour 45 minute match with no falls and we kept the crowd!” said Hamilton.  Imagine the ability to tell a story in the ring that would keep a crowd engrossed for nearly three hours and that ended in a draw without a single fall being scored!

     During his extensive travels as a professional wrestler, Steinborn always remained a student of the game, despite how much he had already come to grasp about the business. He incorporated various styles into his ring work, adding dimension and versatility to his ring repertoire, and he could often emulate the best moves of some of the performers he came across.

     Such was the case when he was asked in 1968 to substitute for Tim Woods as the masked Mr. Wrestling after Woods left the Georgia territory in a dispute with the Atlanta office. As Mr. Wrestling, Steinborn worked a match against “The Professional” Doug Gilbert, the outcome of which saw Mr. Wrestling unmasked.

     “It turned out that Mr. Wrestling had lost the match,” recalls Ron Starr, who at 18 years of age at the time, was still a fan, but would later go on to win more than 30 titles of his own as a professional wrestler.  “But when Mr. Wrestling unmasked, it wasn’t Tim Woods, but Dickie Steinborn! I could’ve sworn that it was the original Mr. Wrestling in the ring because Dickie worked the match with the same exact style as Doug Gilbert, and I could not tell the difference whatsoever. It was one of the greatest matches that I ever saw.”

     “Be careful what you decide to do in life, for you will succeed,” is one of Dick’s observations on life and a motto he lives by.  There is no doubting his success in the ring and his ability to comprehend and use what it took to emotionally suck the fans into what transpired in the “squared circle” was recognized by his peers. This would lead to him booking angles in Puerto Rico and Canada, as well as promoting several towns in Georgia for Gunkel Enterprises. Oil painting is one of Dick’s hobbies outside of wrestling, but in the wrestling arena, the wrestling ring was his canvas and his creativity and ability to think outside of the box, led to incredible masterpieces being produced in the performance art he loved so much.

     But all work and no play make for a dull boy, and when it came to pulling ribs or practical jokes, Dick Steinborn’s creativity excelled in that arena as well.


“I’m Thinking of a Number…”


     It was the summer of 1958 in the Houston, Texas wrestling territory run by promoter Morris Siegel, and Dick Steinborn had just arrived, where he would a strong impression by winning the Texas Heavyweight wrestling title within three weeks of his arrival. But it was on a road trip he was on from Houston to Fort Worth, along with Larry Chene, Bull Curry, and “Big” John Tolos where he would make another great impression.

     “I get in the car with Larry Chene,” recalls Steinborn, “and I’m sitting in the front passenger seat and sitting behind me is John Tolos who’d just come up from California.  \He was 25 years old but in some ways he acted like he was 17. It was so obvious that he was just a big kid.  \And about 75 miles out of Houston we stopped for lunch. 

     “So I’m sitting in the restaurant with Larry Chene and Tolos and Curry are on the other side of the restaurant and Larry said, ‘How are you at ribbing?’ I said, ‘I love to rib.’ Larry then says, ‘Let’s tell Tolos that you’re coming in as a mentalist.’ ‘Well how the hell am I’m going to do that?’ I asked.” Chene and Steinborn would then work out a scheme involving the use of codes in order to successfully pull of the rib.

     “So we get into the car and Larry Chene asks me in front of the other guys, ‘So, what’s Morris bringing you in as?’  I said ‘as a mentalist.’

     “From the back seat Tolos blurts out ‘Oh, Bullshit!’And Larry says, ‘What are you talking about?’”

     “I turned around and said to Tolos who’s in the backseat, ‘Think of a number and write it down and pass it to Bull, and then Bull you whisper it to Larry.”

     “Larry is driving with his left arm out the open driver’s side window with his left hand gripping the bottom of the window frame. He then starts tapping his left thumb on the door 7 times. I tell Tolos, ‘your number was 7.’  Tolos is astounded and blurts out ‘Tre-men-dous!’So we go through the numbers thing 3 or 4 times, and with each success Tolos would exclaim, ‘Tre-men-dous!’ says Steinborn with a hearty laugh.

     “So now I thought that I’d make it more interesting”, continues Steinborn. “So then we did names and then I asked for everybody’s wallets.  I told them I’d be able to tell them how much money they had in their wallets. Larry looked at me like, ‘How the hell is he going to that???’”

     Knowing how much Chene and Tolos received for working in the semi-main event the previous night and how much Curry got for working in the main, Steinborn used some brilliant deduction to figure how much each had spent on food and how much was contributed to gas and was right on the mark in guessing what each man had in his wallet. “Tre-men-dous!” proclaimed Tolos.

     A few years later Tolos and Steinborn would catch up with each other when they’re working a card in Detroit. Steinborn was showering after finishing his match and the rest of the wrestlers were out watching the other matches. So when he came out of the shower Steinborn found the locker room empty…save for John Tolos sitting alone on a bench.

     Tolos then looked up at Steinborn and after several years of not seeing him, the first words to come out of John’s mouth were “I’m thinking of a number.” Years later Tolos was still spellbound by the “mystical” powers of Dick Steinborn.


At the End of the Tunnel


     Life is not always fun and however and Dick Steinborn would see what some might think were more than his fair share of trials.  He has been married four times during the course of his life, the first time being when at the age of 20, he married Carol Kerce, a beautiful young woman he had met at a roller rink in Orlando, Florida, when he was working in his father’s promotion.  They had wed on Carole’s 17th birthday on August 2, 1954. Life was wonderful for the young couple and a few years later they produced a daughter, Candi. 

     Several years before this beautiful union, Steinborn’s mother had given him his first camera as a present on his fourteenth birthday, saying, “As we get older, we forget about certain things and sometimes even what people looked like.  But when you click that shutter, you will capture and have those memories forever.” The pictures from the time period in which Dick and Carole got married shows two young people in the prime of their lives, deeply in love and seemingly without a care in the world. Tragically, that would come to an end.

     At the age of 28, Dick Steinborn would become a widower, as his beloved wife Carole passed away from cancer. Overcome with grief, Dick Steinborn took to the bottle in an effort to escape from his grief, taking on Florida wrestling promoter Eddie Graham as a drinking partner.

     But the inner strength he possessed allowed him to eventually overcome if not forget his grief and Dick Steinborn persevered, and would continue on in life, ready to meet any challenges it might bring.  But it wasn’t always easy. His second and third marriages would end in divorce, the third marriage ending during a time that was already particularly difficult for Steinborn. 

     In 1984 Dick was involved in an auto accident that left his spine twisted even two years after the crash.  His wrestling career, which he had aspired to ever since he could remember and had participated in for 33 years, was suddenly over. Steinborn was devastated.  It wasn’t just a matter of a loss of his livelihood, which was bad enough, but it was the loss of something he loved, something he excelled at. He had derived a certain amount of self-worth from his ability to perform, create, and express himself in the art form known as professional wrestling.

     “I went into a two year depression,” he says. “I lost my family, lost money, lost everything.” It was then that the divorce between him and his third wife Sheila took place. “She told me that I had nothing left,” he recalls. While Dick had felt that way at times during his depression, he knew that we can’t believe every thought that we have, and that hope is the last thing to die. While he had the emotions of his mother, he still had the strength of his father. He refused to accept Sheila’s pronouncement. “I said, ‘I still got me.’”
Steinborn in 2004 at the age of 70
(Photo courtesy of Dick Steinborn)
     And so after two years, Dick Steinborn would once again resume the exercise workouts that he had been neglecting and received counseling to deal with his depression. Life is a story, and Steinborn realized that no matter how bad a particular chapter might be for the main character in the story, and as long as we keep turning the pages, there is the opportunity for the story to change for the better.

     Dick Steinborn would not only resume those exercise workouts but go on to open his own business as a personal training consultant, training several business professionals in the Richmond, Virginia area.  Putting them through the paces in the gymnasium which occupies the first floor of his home, the walls of which are decorated with tons of amazing photos of him and other former wrestlers, Dick has been gratified to have been able to help others in the area of self-improvement. “All of my clients showed significant increases in strength and fitness,” he says proudly.

     And he would find love again as well, marrying for a fourth time and enjoying the companionship of his wife Hazel, until she passed away in December of 2012. Again, it would be another trying time for Steinborn, as it has only been a year and a half at the time of this writing, since he has lost his wife. But he continues to keep active and continues to keep positive. He continues to engage in the art of photography, a passion that he cultivated since he received that first camera on his fourteenth birthday from his beloved mother; he also continues to oil paint; he works out three days a week in his home gym and boasts a trim 30 inch waist; and he is working on his autobiography with his co-writer Scott Teal, owner of the Crowbar Press publishing company.

     And if the stories that Dick Steinborn has shared with me are any indication of what we can expect from that book, it’ll be a must have. Not just for the great, entertaining stories of which Dick has a multitude, or for the wrestling history such a book would contain, but for the inspiration one receives when he gets to know Dick Steinborn the man, not just Dick Steinborn the wrestler. For Dick Steinborn is not just a man who has survived, but a man who has thrived, and who even at the age of 80, still makes a meaningful contribution to this world. His father said that he was always moving and couldn’t keep still. And thankfully, despite whatever life threw at him, Dick Steinborn always managed to eventually move forward.

     He is a great example of the fact that we are not just products of what we experience in life, but in how we ultimately choose to respond to those experiences. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so aptly stated many years ago, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – RR




Author’s conversations with Dick Steinborn, Ron Starr

“Interview with Dutch Mantell”, by Wade Keller, PW Torch Newsletter #216, March 1, 1993

“The Assassin Interview”, by Bill Kociaba,

“Florida’s Great Wrestling Cities: Orlando, and promoter Milo Steinborn, by Barry Rose,

“Lord of the Ring”, by Karen Shugart, INSTYLE WEEKLY, June 28, 2011