Today marks the 30th anniversary of losing a pro wrestling legend when Frank Donald Goodish, aka Bruiser Brody, was murdered in a Puerto Rican locker room. Jose Gonzalez, who played the masked character Invader 1, was the booker in the territory at the time. Accounts say he stabbed Brody in the shower after Gonzalez called him in for a chat.
Tony Atlas remembers that day well because he was there with Brody. In an interview with Hannibal TV earlier this year, Atlas discussed the events leading up to Brody's death and how the locker room reacted during this crisis situation.
Atlas said Brody was initially waiting for Gonzalez to give him a ride to the show that day, but Atlas persuaded Bruiser to ride with him. Later on, they were sitting in the babyface locker room before the event started. Brody noticed Atlas' artwork as he was finishing a sketch of Mark and Jay Youngblood. Brody asked Atlas to draw a picture of his son which he agreed to do free of charge.
As they were having a conversation about art, Jose Gonzalez walked up to Brody and asked to speak with him. Atlas noted Gonzalez had a towel wrapped around his hand but this was nothing uncommon for a professional wrestler.
"Brody turned around -- he still had his bag in his hand," Atlas said. "He turned around and stepped one foot in the shower and then the other foot in the shower. As soon as the second foot hit the shower I hear this sound, 'oooowa! ooooowa!" just like that. The second time he did it, he bent over and I looked up. The first time he did it I thought he got punched. I thought, 'damn Jose hit hard, they're fighting.'
"So when he bent over Jose lifted the knife in the air and I saw the knife and the blood dripping off it. So I jump up and grab Brody and pull him away -- the knife came down and cut Brody's ponytail off. That's how sharp the knife was."
Brody had no idea anything was wrong and his guard was down completely. Atlas continued describing the events right before Brody's murder as he went from admiring a drawing of the Youngbloods to being stabbed in the shower.
"He had no idea, he didn't even put his bag down," Atlas said. "He had his wrestling bag and he just carried a little pouch with his money and everything in it and he was looking at me drawing. It was the last thing on his mind. Then he reached into his pouch to get a picture of his son. He reached to give the picture to me and I reached to get the picture and before I could do that Jose said, 'can I talk to you?' Brody turned so I never got the picture. He walked into the shower with his pouch in one hand and a picture of his son in the other hand."
Atlas said Brody kept the picture of his son in his hand all the way through his surgeries. During the stabbing incident, Carlos Colon ran past Atlas in the locker room and shoved Gonzalez up against the wall telling him, "no" but it was too late. Atlas said Brody looked up at him and said, "brother I'm hurt, don't let them hurt me anymore."
Due to congested traffic because of the wrestling show, it took the ambulance forty-five minutes to arrive for Brody. Atlas said everyone else in the locker room was getting dressed for their match like it was another day at work. The emergency workers were too weak to lift Brody so Atlas volunteered to carry him the into the ambulance.
Atlas was told by a doctor that a stabbing in Puerto Rico is no big deal until he noticed how bad Brody was cut. He was stabbed through his liver and intestine. The doctors were able to fix his intestines but were still working on his liver when Atlas was told Brody would be okay. Atlas said he was then told to leave because he was scaring the hospital staff with his behavior.
"When I came back to the dressing room the blood hadn't dried on the floor yet," Atlas said. "I hear laughing and joking and everybody's bragging about their match."
This occurred during a time when heels and babyfaces dressed in separate parts of the building. Atlas said he told the heel locker room about the incident through The Iron Sheik while they were having their match that night. He said when Sheik heard what happened they ended the match prematurely.
Police later spoke to Atlas asking "did you get a good look at the wrestling fan that did this?" He replied saying it wasn't a fan and pointed to Gonzalez while saying it was him. "You mean Invader?" the police officer asked.
The next day Savio Vega told Atlas he needed to leave Puerto Rico because he was talking to people about what happened. Atlas said he is sure there were plans to murder him as well.
The case of Bruiser Brody's murder did go to court, but Gonzalez wasn't found guilty. It was ruled that he acted in self-defense and Atlas said he didn't receive a subpoena to appear in the trial until after the not-guilty verdict was handed down.
"The last image I got of Brody was him laying down, holding his intestines in with one hand," Atlas said. "The other hand he was holding onto a picture of his son. That's how the man left this world. Holding his intestines and his son... that's how he left this world."
If you use any portion of the quotes in this article please credit Hannibal TV with a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription