Some wrestlers wanted to be loved by the fans. Buddy Colt was more interested in winning matches and holding championships.
Buddy's informal training started while he was still in the Marines. While he was stationed in Japan he trained in Judo.
When his service was finished with the Marines, he returned to his home in the Washington D.C.-Maryland area and dedicated himself full-time to
bodybuilding. He finished second in the 1960 Mr. Washington D.C. contest. A wrestling fan all of his life, Buddy was thrilled to be in the gym one day when Johnny Valentine and Dick Steinborn came in to work out. Never shy, Buddy introduced himself and was encouraged by Valentine that he should consider getting into professional wrestling.
Buddy moved to Houston where he placed in every bodybuilding contest he entered. He also got involved in Olympic-style
While in Houston he met Joe Mercer, who would later become better known as Killer Karl Krupp. Mercer offered to train Buddy.
"It was the best $400 I ever invested," Buddy said. "I went to the YMCA twice a week for six months to train."
Because of his martial arts background, along with the conditioning and strength he developed, Colt caught on to professional wrestling quickly. He developed faster than other wrestlers in training.
As Buddy became close to ready, Colt started sending his photos to different promoters around the country. Because of his bodybuilding physique, which was unusual in the 60s, he started receiving several requests. However, Mercer advised Colt to start with a smaller territory to develop his skills before moving on to a big promotion.
Colt followed Mercer's advice and went to Nick Gulas' Nashville promotion in June of 1962. Wrestling under
a derivative of his real name, Ron Reed had his first match teaming with Jim Boggs against the established stars of the territory, Don and Al Greene in Bowling Green, Kent.
Because of Buddy's obvious potential, other promoters wanted the rookie, and Colt traveled to gain as much experience as possible. He went to Mobile, Ala. to wrestle for the Lee Fields promotion for six weeks. He also traveled to Atlanta, where he would later become a top star.
In December of 1962 it was time to move on and Colt answered the call from Vincent J. McMahon to go to the
Capitol Sports Promotion, which would later become the WWWF. Colt's skills had improved where he was elevated to mid-card status. He wrestled as Cowboy Ron Reed.
"I started in New York with some other young guys that would go on to have big careers too," Buddy said, "Tim Woods and (future World junior heavyweight champion) Irish Pat Barrett."
Colt got the biggest break of his career to that point when he had a televised
non-title match against NWA World heavyweight champion, Nature Boy Buddy Rogers. Colt lost, but people only remembered that it was a great match.
"Buddy Rogers was a great champion and had a lot of influence on me," Colt said. "After that match people came up to me
weeks later and told me 'I saw you on TV. You almost beat the champ.' I learned so much from that experience."
Colt also noticed that being booed enhanced Rogers' marketability, and his payoffs.
In late 1963 Colt accepted a spot in the Phoenix promotion. When he had time off in Phoenix, he accepted bookings in Atlanta, Oklahoma City, and Texas.
While he was in Texas he met up with former World heavyweight champion Pat O'Connor. O'Connor was impressed with Colt, still wrestling under the name Cowboy Ron Reed. O'Connor was part of the office in Kansas City and asked Buddy if he was interested in wrestling for the Central States promotion. If Colt did well, he would be given an opportunity to main event. Colt finished his dates for Phoenix and headed east.
When he arrived in Kansas City he was asked to drop the Cowboy part of his ring name
in deference to Cowboy Bob Ellis and simply go by Ron Reed. Buddy agreed, and it didn't make a difference. He was an immediate hit with the fans, and as promised, was moved into his first main events.
In 1965, the popular Ron Reed defeated the great Mike DiBiase for the Central States heavyweight championship.
Buddy had an impressive reign as Central States champ that earned him a title shot against NWA World heavyweight champion Lou Thesz. Buddy held the legendary champion to a 60-minute time limit draw. Perhaps even more impressively, Buddy became one of the few men to ever make Thesz submit when he won the
second fall of the three-fall match with a spinning toehold. Buddy earned a rematch that also ended in a draw. It took Thesz three matches before he finally turned back the young challenger.
Buddy was a top draw and one of the most popular wrestlers in the Central States territory for three years with brief tours of Charlotte and Australia. While making a brief stop in Hawaii he knocked of
Luther Lindsey for the Hawaiian State heavyweight championship.
While Buddy was enjoying tremendous success as the popular Ron Reed, he wasn't completely comfortable.
"I knew I wanted to be a bad guy," Buddy said. "I felt there was money in it and I felt I was more natural with that style. The only thing was if I changed styles I didn't want to have to prove my self again. I wanted to change my style and still be
the main event."
Buddy got his opportunity. During his travels, he got to know a heel named Dandy Jack Donavan. Donavan called Buddy and explained that he was in the Oklahoma territory and needed a tag partner. He asked if Buddy would be willing to bleach his hair and change his style. Buddy agreed immediately.
Buddy's last date for the Central States promotion wrestling in the famous Kiel Auditorium in a tournament for the Missouri State junior heavyweight championship.
"I was in the process of bleaching my hair," Buddy said. "I wrestled that night and my hair was closer to orange than blond."
When Buddy arrived in Oklahoma, he didn't waste any time finding gold. In their first week as a team, Dandy Jack and Handsome Ronnie defeated Chuck Karbo and Chati Yokuchi for the United States tag team championship.
Buddy reveled in being booed and he and Donavan were huge draws. Some of the teams they defended against were Danny Hodge & Lorenzo Parante and a couple of guys that would become intertwined with Buddy's career down the road, Jack & Jerry Brisco.
Buddy also got the opportunity to wrestle the legendary Hodge for the World
junior heavyweight championship.
After holding the belts for the better part of nine months, Buddy left the team to go find singles success again. He went to Amarillo in 1967. It was in Amarillo that he came up with the ring name that he would become famous for, Buddy Colt.
"I wanted something catchy, something easy to remember, " Colt said. "Buddy was easy. Colt was an exciting name. You had the Baltimore Colts,
Colt pistols, Colt 45s."
Buddy become the main event heel for the promotion. He won the North American heavyweight championship and successfully defended it against the legendary Dory Funk Sr., Pat Patterson, Ricky Romero, Lawman Don Slatton, and the up and coming Funk Brothers. Buddy earned a pinfall over Dory Funk Jr. a month before Funk Jr. would go on to win the World heavyweight title. He also teamed with Gorgeous George Jr. to beat Chatio Yokuchi and Mr. Ito for the Western States tag team title. The fans didn't know who to cheer when they faced another hated combination, the original Infernos (Frankie "Great Mephisto" Caine & Jimmy "Rocky" Smith).
Buddy was a sensation when he toured Japan.
In late 1969, he entered the Atlanta promotion and Georgia wrestling was never the same. He initially teamed with Paul DeMarco and was managed by Homer O'Dell. Colt and O'Dell had a falling out with DeMarco which led to a terrific feud. Eventually, Colt would also drop O'Dell as his manager.
"Paul DeMarco was a great wrestler," Colt said. "He may be one of the most underrated men in wrestling. I have a lot of respect for him."
Buddy Colt won his first Georgia State heavyweight championship in 1970 and dominated the belt for
years. Buddy met all the top stars in Georgia including several World title matches against his former Texas foe, Dory Funk Jr. Buddy met El Mongol (Raul Molina), Fred Blassie, a popular Bobby Shane, Bob Armstrong, Bill Dromo, George Scott, Sandy Scott, Crazy Luke Graham, Ray Gunkel, Buddy Fuller, The Torres Brothers, Jimmy Dancing Bear among others. He would occasionally team with the Assassins (Tom Renesto & Jody Hamilton), and Karl Von Stroheim.
Buddy made a defense of the Georgia title against Mr. Wrestling II (Johnny
Walker) that set an Omni attendance record that would stand for years.
Louis Tillet was wrestling part-time while working in the Florida promotional office. While taking a few dates in Atlanta,
Tillet convinced Colt to bring his brand of mayhem to Florida.
Colt hit the Sunshine State like a hurricane!
He made his mark in Florida by breaking Johnny "Rubberman" Walker's arm. Colt held all the main belts during his
Florida "reign of terror". Buddy took turns being the Florida state heavyweight
champion and Southern heavyweight champion. He also held the North American heavyweight championship
which turned into a tremendous feud with Cowboy Bill Watts. Colt also had great
battles with Bob Armstrong.
Buddy had many top matches in Florida with Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods, Jack Brisco, Dory Funk Jr., Paul Jones, Big Bad John, Eddie Graham, Mark Lewin, among others. He was a favorite tag team partner of Johnny Valentine.
Buddy was the embodiment of brutal inside the ring. But outside the ring he distinguished himself with an interview style different from other
heels. He was confident on the microphone, but he it was a mater-of-fact style rather than boastfulness. Being reserved on the microphone made
him appear even more dangerous.
From 1972-1975 Buddy Colt was a main eventer in both Florida and Georgia. His
private pilot's license and his ability to draw money gave him opportunities other wrestlers didn't have. When the promotional war started in Atlanta, Colt was one of the first stars called to be asked to come in for the NWA promotion.
He would go on to hold the Georgia state title six times. He also held the Georgia State tag-team championship with Roger
Kirby and Harley Race.
By late 1974 he was concentrating on Florida. In addition to holding the state's singles titles, he was also the logical challenger whenever Florida's favorite son, Jack Brisco, came through to defend the World heavyweight championship.
In Feb. 1975, Buddy was flying from Miami to Tampa after he and Bobby Shane had defeated Dominic DeNucci and Tony Parisi. In the plane was Gary Hart, Mike McCord (Austin Idol), and Shane. As they were over Tampa Bay, the plane
hit a sudden line of thunderstorms causing it to crash in Tampa Bay.
The crash took Shane's life and ended Buddy's career as a wrestler.
Unable to wrestle, Buddy came back as a manager and later a television commentator. It wasn't long before he retired.
"My heart wasn't in it," Colt said of managing and announcing. "I was a big star. It would be like asking Reggie Jackson to go from playing to being the bat boy."
No one will ever think of Buddy Colt as a bat boy.
He will be remembered as a dominant wrestler and a huge draw.