Dory Funk Jr. Talks His Wrestling School, Why He Left WWF, Training Kurt Angle, Wrestling Terry
Pictured: Dory Funk Jr. | Send Us Your Photo
Wrestling Inc.: Your father was a legendary pro wrestler. You started wrestling right after college. Did you know growing up that this is what you were going to be doing?
Dory: Maybe I did, but I guess I did. As a kid, I always dreamed of being a professional wrestler. I watched my father wrestle. I loved what he did. I thought a lot about doing it. As I went through college, I was always playing football and working for a construction company at the same time I was going to school. It came upon me that in those days, you couldn't be a professional athlete, a wrestler and a collegiate football player at the same time.
So when our season was over, we won our last game against Ohio University, our season was over, the local promoter, Doc Sarpolis, wanted to have me wrestle for him. I signed a contract on the wheels of a TWA airplane when we landed in Amarillo after the game, the Sun Bowl. I never looked back. My career started in 1963.
Wrestling Inc.: You said you signed your first contract right after a college football career. Had you even trained at all until then?
Dory: Yes I had. It's kind of strange but the trainer was, well a couple of em. My father, one, Dory Funk Sr. Ricky Romero. And a guy named Johnny Como, was very young. He was 18 years old, wrestling in the Amarillo territory. And Johnny Como went on to become Pedro Morales, the WWE/F World Champion. He was one of my trainers.
Wrestling Inc.: Did you ever have the opportunity to team with your father or work with him on any level?
Dory: Oh, yes. We were a six man tag team, my brother, myself and my father in St. Louis, Greensboro, North Carolina, the Amarillo territory. I also had the opportunity to work with him in Japan. He was in my corner, probably the most famous match I had was for the NWA Championship in Japan against Antonio Inoki. My father was in my corner that night. He was quite active and quite a great wrestler.
Wrestling Inc.: You defeated Gene Kiniski for the NWA World Championship in 1969. Back then, title changes were a big deal and didn't happen that often. What was your reaction when you learned that you would be winning the title?
Dory: Well my reaction when I won the title, it's still there on video tapes on YouTube. It was Tampa, Florida. My father and my brother put a whole lot of work into training me and getting me into shape and getting me ready for the big match in Tampa. Actually it was the very words from my father after I won the match, he came over, put his arm around me and said, "I just want you to know you did a hell of a job. If you do nothing else, I'm very, very proud of you." I never forgot those words. He and my brother, Terry Funk, did a tremendous amount of preparation work with training me and getting me ready for the match.
Wrestling Inc.: You held it, I think you had the second longest reign ever for that title, correct?
Dory: Yeah. Four and a half years. That was an unbelievable trip. First class everywhere you go. We traveled to 30 different territories and we had the opportunity to work with the very best in each territory. It was every night a different opponent. It was just a fabulous experience.
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