Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fate, Or Something Like It

Fate or something like it.

Fate (noun) - the force or principle believed to predetermine events.

I can’t help but believe that fate played a part in finding this photo of Johnny Weaver.

George South frequently visits a little used bookstore called Value Village on Central Avenue in Charlotte. He has this uncanny knack of finding wrestling related books in there. As an example, he once stumbled upon a book on the 1960s era New York Jets only to find a photo of Wahoo McDaniel making a tackle. Things like this happen often to him.

This past January, he visited this store and saw a book about the inaugural season of the Carolina Panthers NFL franchise. "Carolina Panthers Sunday" by Wallace Sears. If you know George, you know what a big Dallas Cowboys fan he is, and you probably also know that as much as he loves the Cowboys, he hates the Panthers to the same degree. So normally you would think he wouldn’t even bother picking up a book on the Panthers, much less thumbing through it. But he was strangely drawn to this one.

The book chronicled the opening day game; it was a photo journal of the entire day. George picked it up and opened it and there in the center of the first page he turned to was a beautiful photograph of Mecklenburg County Deputy Sheriff Johnny Weaver.

Weaver had gone to work as a Deputy Sheriff after his career in the wrestling business had ended. He had been working in the front office of Jim Crockett Promotions when the Charlotte based wrestling company had been purchased by Ted Turner in 1988. Not wanting to move to Atlanta, Weaver left a 30 year wrestling career and joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1989. He worked there 19 years until his death in 2008.

So consider this: What are the odds that photographer Joel Sartore would pick Johnny's bus out of the dozens of buses that morning, would take Johnny's picture out of the thousands of officers working security that day, and would have selected that photo for the book? What are the odds that 13 years later, George would have spotted that old book out of hundreds of old books buried away in that little used book store, and would have turned to that one page out of the over 200 pages in the book and found that photo of Johnny Weaver?

When I told my friend Peggy Lathan this story, she was the first to suggest fate, or something like it, played a role. "It was just meant to be. Johnny knew that book was in that little book store and led George right to it. He knew none of us would have found it otherwise."

I kind of like believing that's true.

- Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Looking Back: Weaver vs. Kiniski in 1967

Today, February 15, is the one year anniversary of Johnny Weaver's death, and we continue to mourn his passing but we also celebrate his life and his career.

Johnny is probably best remembered for his legendary tag team with George Becker in the 1960s and early 1970s. But he was also a top singles wrestler and was a top drawing challenger for the NWA world heavyweight championship, wrestling all the great champions of the era, including many title matches with Lou Thesz, Gene Kiniski, and Dory Funk, Jr. in particular.

On Thanksgiving night 1967, Johnny challenged Kiniski for the title in what was at that time a record breaking crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum, with hundreds of fans turned away.

Click the clipping above for a larger view.

We plan to continue to share memories and remembrances of Johnny's career here on the Weaver Blog. You can always find us by just typing in to your browser: http://www.johnnyweaver.net/ or find your way here via the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

One Year Later: We Remember Johnny Weaver

Johnny Weaver
November 17, 1935 - February 15, 2008

Thanks Kid by Capt. Michal Smith
The Greatest Finish Man Ever by Blackjack Mulligan

Tributes from Dick Bourne David Chappell Peggy Lathan Carroll Hall Rich Landrum Jim Nelson

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Five Years Ago: Weaver Hits The Ring in Spartanburg

Five years ago this month, Johnny Weaver made a special appearance at the "Wrestling Night of the Legends" show in Spartanburg SC, promoted by the Miss South Carolina organization. Johnny was recognized along with several other legends, but the real excitement of the evening was during the main event which featured The Rock and Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) vs. The Masked Superstar (Bill Eadie) and George South.

The "bad guys" were putting the boots to Robert Gibson as Ricky Morton had been thrown from the ring. Miss Teen South Carolina Shelley Benthalland, who had escorted the Rock and Roll to the ring, ill-advisedly entered the ring to protest. Superstar and South turned toward her and actually looked like they might do her bodily harm. A noise began to rise from the crowd as someone came running down the aisle toward the ring. Long time wrestling fans in attendance could hardly believe their eyes as the legendary Johnny Weaver hit the ring, disposed of the Superstar with a roundhouse punch and then shot South into the ropes and applied his famous sleeper hold. The roof about came off the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium.

It was a special treat to see Johnny in the ring again, if only briefly. It was something he would only do a few more times in the last years of his life.

This photo is of Johnny with Miss South Carolina 2003 Jessica Eddins.

See lots of photos from this event on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by visiting the following link:
Wrestling Night of the Legends 2004