Former professional wrestler Nick Bockwinkel has passed away at the age of 80 of complications of Alzheimer’s.
Bockwinkel played football at the University of Oklahoma when a knee injury derailed his career. Instead, he followed in his father Warren’s footsteps and he became a professional wrestler in 1954 beginning a career that would last more than three decades.
Bockwinkel is best known as the four time American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Heavyweight Champion. Based in Minneapolis, the AWA was run by Verne Gagne, the man who he first beat for the title 40 years ago this month, who also passed away earlier this year.
For most of his wrestling career, Bockwinkel wrestled as a heel and defended the AWA title against the likes of Greg Gagne, Jim Brunzell, Hulk Hogan, Billy Robinson, Wahoo McDaniel, Crusher, Dick The Bruiser and Baron Von Raschke. By his final run as AWA champion he had become a fan favorite and feuded with the late Curt Hennig and Larry Zbyszko. When I was a kid we would get AWA programming from the ABC affiliate in Duluth. His promos stood out because he rarely yelled and used 50 cent words to rile up the fans especially when he called them “cretinous humanoids” often in tandem with his longtime manager Bobby Heenan. Check out the video above.
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