Photo by Mike Mooneyham. Photo Provided.
Trailer park tragedy
Photo provided. He truly was a virtual encyclopedia of a profession he loved dearly for most of his 72 years. A short notice in a recent obituary section of The Charlotte Observer reported that Jimmy had passed away on May There were no funeral arrangements.
The truth is that Jimmy was known far and wide for not only his wrestling knowledge, but for his friendly, laid back demeanor and his uncanny ability to show up unexpectedly at wrestling-related functions throughout the country. Hirsute, diminutive, friendly but not necessarily forthcoming with personal details, decidedly offline, and willing to hitchhike in a world of paranoid people, he sure stood out. I always bought him dinner at fan fests because he looked like he needed it, and the tales, real or imagined, were worth the price of admission.
That, indeed, was Jimmy Ryan. Les Thatcher, who recently celebrated his 60th anniversary in the wrestling business, recalled first meeting Ryan 58 years ago in Charlotte.
I was 22 and he would have been 14 at the time. I was looking for something to read in the old book and newspaper store on Trade Street in downtown Charlotte.
I heard my name called and looked around and this young man was sitting on this low platform that ran the length of one wall of the store with out of town newspapers. He had a deal with the store owners that he could come in once a week and go through all the out-of-town papers looking for of wrestling events around the country. We chatted for a few minutes and I was impressed with his knowledge of our industry.
We became friends that day and that grew over the years. Jimmy loved the business and was always respectful of it and the athletes. He was one of a kind and I will miss him. God Speed, my friend. So, I never knew when or if I would see him the next time … But, I always thought I would see him the next time right around the corner.
Jimmy had utilized a portable oxygen tank in recent years due to a collapsed lung and had suffered from asthma. He had locked himself out of the house and had run out of oxygen. I ended up waiting on him at the hospital and I got him home at around in the morning. I never did find out exactly what happened. The Charlotte native caught the wrestling bug early, in his pre-teen years, and never looked back.
Cm punk attends wrestling event; workers backstage were told to “not bother him”
His fascination with the business took him to 48 states and Canada, and he could spin yarns about his days on the road until the cows came home. As a youngster he lived in a trailer park, which just happened to be where a of wrestlers set up camp while working the territory. Those were great times, he said, that produced plenty of lasting memories. He remembered being only 5 or 6 when the villainous Mr. Moto and The Swedish Angel hoisted him on their shoulders and paraded him through a nearby grocery store.
Ryan was finally able to attend his first live wrestling show when he was A lady who lived at a nearby trailer park was good friends with local favorites Abe Jacobs and George Becker, and took Ryan to a show at the old Charlotte Coliseum. The Great Bolo Tom Renesto. Ryan parks there was no looking back. He was hooked. When Ryan was old enough to catch a bus, he became a weekly regular, and it was nearly five years before he missed another wrestling show. Ryan still had an autographed picture he drew of the masked Bolo. Some old guys from school today still call me that.
The late wrestling photographer Gene Gordon smartened him up to the wrestler and helped him land a job as a bellhop at the old Hotel Charlotte later the White House Inn. That, my friends, is a claim very few could ever make and I am grateful he thought to share this with me and had the instinct to know I would appreciate such a thing.
I was walking down a street and some people in a pickup truck asked me if I was going to see the rock concert. They said Jimi Hendrix was playing at the race track near Atlanta. So I hopped in the trailer of the truck and went with them. I sat up front and watched right near the stage.
I enjoyed that.
Ryan also would meet a of wrestlers at the local YMCA where they regularly worked out and engaged in such activities as handball and swimming. He used to take his sons there and play handball. Hamilton was, of course, sans mask, but Ryan immediately recognized him from his stance and gestures that gave his identity away.
Nightmare danny davis
He soaked up as much knowledge as he could about the business, hanging around arenas, corresponding with fans outside the area and introducing himself to as many wrestlers as possible. A friend owned a newsstand magazine store where Ryan spent countless hours scouring out-of-town newspapers for wrestling. A friend who was a bus driver for Greyhound helped sneak him on the bus and let him ride for free. Ryan would routinely talk to the wrestlers after the matches, and his fascination with the business blossomed.
He soon began writing for various pro wrestling magazines.
Corsica Jean was promoting. His second interview was with the team of Al Greene and Frank Martinez, who were behind hoods at the time as The Blue Demons, and the group drove from Tampa to Jacksonville. He was a babyface, and Green and Martinez trailer heels. It was the first time I had ridden in a car with heels and babyfaces at the park time. Ryan would note that the heels dropped Serrano off a couple of blocks before they got to the arena. They The Blue Demons would put their masks on before they pulled up to the arena.
Fraternization between heels and babyfaces, of course, was a definite no-no. Name an old-time wrestler, especially one from the Mid-Atlantic days, and Ryan could recite numerous recollections of that wrestler. Chances are the two either traveled together or partied together at one time or another. Names of wrestlers, some obscure and long forgotten, would roll off his lips like he had mentioned them a thousand times before.
He rode with Reggie Parks from Shreveport, La. He was hitchhiking to a wrestling show at the trash when he was stopped by police. They had it in for the wrestlers because of all the barroom brawls. Me and Brute Bernard took the mattress off the bed. I slept on the wrestler, and he slept on the box spring.
It was me and Brute and Bob Orton Sr. He could get quite vulgar. But he was a lot of fun to be around. Ryan lived in Venice Beach, Calif. He lived in Los Angeles a couple different times.
No matter where he went, though, he always saw people he had known, and there were always new people to meet. Times were different.
People were like that back then. It was a whole different era. I was like a hippy. There also was a spot in every town where he could go and talk about wrestling. His wife, Jean, ran the business. Ryan was privy to the location of the various wrestling offices in every town, and he enjoyed many a conversation with trailers and staff who worked out of those wrestlers.
I got to know them quite well. That was the fun of it Lou used to have a fifth of liquor in his suitcase. He also shared meals and drinks with a of the old-time stars. In many cases, they treated him to lunch and bought him drinks. Ryan recalled once working the state fair in Tulsa. It was a job he got through Johnny Ringley, who was once married to Frances Crockett, the daughter of the late promoter Jim Crockett Sr. Ringley was working for Bill Watts in the Tulsa office at the time. Mike was the deputy sheriff in Tulsa.
He was proud of his memorabilia which included magazines, programs, posters and photos. He had wrestling books dating back to Ryan never felt like a stranger anywhere his roaming ways would take him. If you ever caught him on the street, in a bar, at a show, chances are that Jimmy Ryan trash wax nostalgic about his favorite pastime. I could listen to his stories for hours on end. I was amazed at all his life experiences, his many travels. His love of wrestling had taken him to every park of our country.