Stranglehold Wrestling invades North Georgia By: Jimmy Schofield

Pro wrestling has a storied history in Houston thanks to legendary promoter Paul Boesch. “Houston Wrestling” started in the mid 1920’s under the Sigel family but was bought by Boesch after Morris Sigel died in late 1966. I remember heading to the old Sam Houston Coliseum as a kid during the mid-80’s with a handful of friends in my parent’s station wagon to see such ‘wrastlers’ as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, “Hacksaw” Butch Reed, Ted Dibiase, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Terry Taylor, The Freebirds, “Maddog” Buzz Sawyer, “Mr. Unpredictable” Dick Slater and my personal favorite, “Captain Redneck” Dick Murdock.
Since covers the University of Houston football program, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one of the Cougars own and his contributions made to the sport, Kerry Gene Adkisson, or better known by his wrestling name; “The Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich. Attending UH on a track scholarship, Adkisson broke a Southwest Conference record in the discus and was primed to represent the US in the Olympics if not for the 1980 boycot. Von Erich would later go on to make a name for himself while wrestling for his father’s promotion in Dallas, World Class Championship Wrestling, and then later the World Wrestling Federation, before tragically taking his life in 1993 due to depression.
There was also a time when professional wrestling was hot in north Georgia, back in the days when the National Wrestling Alliance, or the NWA which would later become World Championship Wrestling or WCW, ruled the area in the sport. Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) was under the auspice of the NWA, in which the local “territory” which would put on house shows throughout the week and weekly television tapings all throughout the state.
On Saturday June the 4th at the Barrow County Leisure Services Center in Winder (175 Second Street, 30680), ‘Stranglehold Wrestling’ relives those glory years for present day wrestling fans with its “Royal Blood: A Night of Extreme Wrestling,” seven match card. Doors open at 7pm with an 8pm bell time. Earlier in the day there will be a meet-and-greet at ‘Praise the Lard BBQ’ (1350 Buford Hwy NE 30518) in Buford at 11am. General admission is ten dollars with floor seats being $15.
WWE Hall-of-Famer, ‘Mr. USA’ Tony Atlas, will be featured in a Coal Miner’s Glove match versus Leatherface. Other performers and matches includes; “Xtreme Phenom” vs Austin Bradley in a street fight who will open the show with a hard hitting no disqualification match. Next up will be an ‘Afghan Torture’ match between two long standing rivals, Billy the Kid and Prince Rhumma of Afghanistan, which should be brutal to say the least. Third match is a ladies match; “Simply Intoxicating” Brandy Scotch Baker takes on “The Party Princess" Kayla Lynn. The fourth match will be a ‘First Blood’ match between “Dangerous” Danny Horne and “Insane Lane” (expect blood to flow like a river in this match). The fifth match on the card will be a Tornado Tag Team Deathmatch between “The Deathmatch Junkies” (Terry Houston and Colt 45) and “The Hounds of Hell” (Belton Creedmore and “The White Trash Maniac” Ron Mathis). The semi-main event will be the Legends match, “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas takes on local legend, Leatherface. The main event will be “Mad Man” Pondo vs Iceberg in a ‘Four Corners of Pain’ match that should make history between the heated rivals.

Owner and promoter Eric Nelson recently told me that Atlas has a genuine love for the sport and still makes appearances for a living (even at 62 years old), “he likes working Georgia because GCW was his fondest of memories working in the business.” Atlas’s career has spanned over 20 years which, which has included stints with the WWF. Atlas even took part in a GCW revival show in Macon on July 23, 2011.

After the WWF, led under Vince McMahon Jr, killed the territory system in the late 80s, the only promotion left to battle the Connecticut based promotion was WCW, owned by Ted Turner. After years of money mismanagement, WCW faced the same slow death other regional wrestling promotions faced and was bought out by McMahon and the WWE in the early 2000’s.
In today’s wrestling world, if one isn’t interested in the “PG era” of the WWE, then the Indy scene is where it’s at. Indy wrestling is exactly what it sounds like; wrestling cards put together by local promoters, which lead us to back to ‘Stranglehold Wrestling’ under Nelson. Just retired after a 23 year career with the US Navy, Nelson (who had worked in various promotions across the Eastern seaboard over the past 13 years) decided to start his own promotion because, “I got tired of making other people money and lining everyone else’s pockets.” And ‘Stranglehold Wrestling’ was born. It’s predominately a hardcore style of wrestling in its infancy stage (just two years old), but they do offer a lot of technical wrestling as well for the ‘old school’ enthusiasts who think the sport is more than just spilling blood.
Nelson’s promotion puts on monthly shows all over the state but as he stated, “We’ll go wherever the price is right. Hell I’d go to Cleveland if somebody put the right dollar amount in front of me.” He’s also done shows in the Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic, before starting Stranglehold. While the money is important as his wrestlers put their lives on the line every card and they have families to worry about, money is not the prime reason these young men and women do this. It’s a dangerous sport which leads to life altering injuries and even death. Nelson told me “the men and women of Stranglehold have no fear of injury or death and enjoy putting it all on the line for their fans.”
Nelson’s belief that Stranglehold will do well into the future because of what he delivers; fast paced action with good story lines. The wrestlers are independent contractors meaning they’ll wrestler wherever they can make the most money as Nelson estimates there are 13 independent promotions in Georgia alone that he knows of. But he also says, “I don’t use the same guys everyone else in the state uses, pretty much goes for everywhere I travel. I’ve had people try to compete with me by putting on a free show but they often use substandard talent.” Nelson has also handed out over 4000 flyers promoting his cards as he relies on word-of-mouth and social media such as Facebook for advertising.
They even live in a world of ‘Kayfabe,’ which is an industry term used to describe the scripted card as real or true. Outside of the ring however they are normal men and women just trying to make a living to feed their families. Nelson wouldn’t give me the real names of the wrestlers for this reason. He also said there were ‘security issues’ as sometimes fans can take things too far or “be a little too eccentric” as he put it, but that’s what a good wrestler will do. A ‘heel’ (or a bad guy) will make you hate him while a ‘face’ will make you want to cheer him. That’s what wrestling is about, telling a believable story line combined with athleticism in the ring. Nelson would tell me that Leatherface is local to the Winder area as is Brandy Scotch Baker but you wouldn’t know them if you saw them on the street.
Nelson himself however is ‘Joe Public’ as he doesn’t mind if fans come up to him during his shows. So if you’re in the Winder area Saturday, stop by for some top notch ‘wrastling’ and strike up a conversation as ‘Stranglehold Wrestling’ invades North Georgia.

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When I was a kid, Paul Boesch used to live in Glenbrook Valley (sort of THE fancy neighborhood after River Oaks in those days), about a mile or two away from where we were (not in Glenbrook Valley). You’d see him riding his bicycle with his German shepherd every now and then. He held me when I was a baby at a Fed-Mart (next to old Palm Center) parking lot. Ref Irish Danny McShane lived in a corner house in Gulf Meadows (off 35 on the way to Pearland) and could be spotted mowing his lawn in his underwear on Sundays. Former UH DT and boxer Lee Canalito also lived in that neighborhood. We had the same barber, and I’d talk to him on occasion. Good guy. Had he not been injured, he and Whitley seriously may have been the best DT duo in college football history. Both were Parade All Americans (Canalito as a junior) and started on an 11-1 Top 10 team as true freshmen. I went to Dobie and played football with Tom Prichard, who was a fan back then and pursued his dream.


I remember going to watch Houston Wrestling at the Sam Houston Coloseum when I was a kid.

Good times!

Paul Boesch once spoke at my Dad’s Rotary Club years ago.


We must be near the same age, I also remember watching Houston Wrestling as a kid and attended a few matches at the Sam Houston Coliseum.

Houston Wrestling was on TV every Sunday morning (channel 39 I think). My memories of those morning were awesome; eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and we were able to eat in front of the TV!

Jose Lothario, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, The Junk Yard Dog, Gino Hernandez, Bruiser Brody, Chief Wahoo McDaniel, Mil Mascaras, Tony Atlas, etc., and of course Paul Bosech. Get your tickets at 1919 Caroline.

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That’s how I remember it!

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I wrote this article as a favor for a friend up here in North Georgia. Unfortunately I couldn’t get it published in the paper I write for on a freelance basis as they didn’t consider it “local,” even though it’s maybe an hour drive.

Anyway, I also loved Houston Wrestling. I’m reading a book now by Peter Birkholz, “When Wrestling was Raslin.” He’s the nephew of Paul Boesch. He did a lot of the interviews on the wrestling cards at the Sam Houston Coliseum as well.

I would have written this article after I had finished the book (halfway through it now) but my friends wrestling card here was Saturday night. Anyway, Boesch had good deallings with UH. Even had a few Friday night cards at Hofheinz Pavilion a few times in the 70s. Anyone else remember that? I didn’t start becoming a fan until the mid 80s. Good times!

Awesome. “Dr.” Tom Prichard was one of the best. Great stories sir.

Back in about 1975 I was making a delivery to the lawyer who had his offices above the Houston Wrestling offices on Caroline. The guy had a German Shepherd on a chain behind the building and the dog broke free and tore me up pretty badly before I was able to stumble into Paul Boesh’s office. Mr Boesh, bless his soul, got me into his huge leather chair and called an ambulance. I went back later that week to thank him and apologize for bleeding all over his rug and chair. He could not have been nicer. He gave me a referral to a lawyer which I never took him up on. I still have the scars btw

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Wow Bob. I never met him but he always seemed like a very nice guy just from watching him on television all those years. Now in reading that book by on his promotion and via stories from you and others here, it’s verified.

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