Wednesday, February 29, 2012
The Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer
That photo is the Destroyer (Dick Beyer) vs. Victor the wrestling bear in California (probably Los Angeles at the Olympic Auditorium in 1965).
In my Tumblr misadventures (more on these eventually), I stumbled across a phrase that I am still having trouble parsing. The writer referred to the Destroyer as "a rare American masked wrestler." Huh? I know lucha libre is trendy and all, but I'd say there have been hundreds of American masked wrestlers over the years. In fact, the first masked wrestler ever was allegedly American Mort Henderson, who donned a mask as the Masked Marvel in 1915. That's right, 1915.
I think it was a perfectly innocent remark, but the only way it reconciles with fact is that the Destroyer was the rare American masked wrestler who "got over" outside of the States. Other than the Zebra Kid (George Bollas), I can't think of another American masked man to have such success away from U.S. soil. The Destroyer is probably even more legendary in Japan than he is here. Heck, the man is a bona fide TV star in that country!
The Destroyer's story is a fascinating one, and you can learn more about it (including info on his book) at www.thedestroyer.com.