BIO: Fritz Von Erich
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Signature Moves: Iron Claw
WCCW Titles Held: NWA American Heavyweight Champion (sixteen times), NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion (three times), NWA American Tag Team Champion (twice with Waldo Von Erich, once each with Billy Red Lyons, Grizzly Smith, Fred Curry, Dan Miller and Dean Ho), WCCW Six-Man Tag Team Champion (with Kevin & Mike Von Erich) and NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Champion (twice). Also held the AWA World Heavyweight Championship.
Need to Know Facts: Born in Jewett, Texas on August 16, 1929, Jack Adkisson played football and held several discus records while attending Southern Methodist University. In 1952 he played briefly for the old Dallas Texans NFL team, then moved on to the Canadian Football League. It was during his stay in Edmonton that Jack met the legendary Stu Hart, under whose tutelage he began to train for a career in professional wrestling.
Adkisson began working as a heel early in his career, playing the role of a goosestepping Nazi sympathizer and adopting the ring name Fritz Von Erich. His intensity in the ring, combined with his intimidating size and strong interview skills, made him one of the sport's most in-demand heel workers.
On July 27, 1963, Fritz defeated Verne Gagne in Omaha, Nebraska to win the AWA World Heavyweight title, but his reign as champion was brief as he lost the belt back to Gagne in Amarillo, Texas on August 8. For much of the early '60s, though, Fritz worked for NWA president Sam Muchnick in St. Louis. However, the NWA board of directors was opposed to giving title runs to wrestlers with gimmick names (its champion at the time, Lou Thesz, was a particularly outspoken critic of wrestling gimmicks in general), and voted against putting their version of the World title on Fritz.
Fritz would take complete control of the promotion (then known as Big Time Wrestling) after McLemore's death in early 1969. Under his ownership, the group began drawing sellout crowds, attracting top talent such as Wahoo McDaniel, Johnny Valentine, Killer Kowalski, Toru Tanaka, Red Bastien, Boris Malenko and many other giants of the sport. During this period, Fritz also became a huge star in Japan as a result of his feuds with Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba.
In early 1982, Saturday Night Wrestling commentator Bill Mercer and Mickey Grant of Dallas station KXTX approached Fritz with a number of bold suggestions for a state-of-the-art television production; though Fritz was reportedly skeptical at first, he was eventually persuaded to greenlight the idea. It wasn't long before the promotion -- now renamed World Class Championship Wrestling -- was seen nationally (and later internationally) on a wildly successful, hour-long syndicated program. The many innovations conceived by Mercer and Grant, which would become the standard for all pro wrestling telecasts, included ringside cameras and microphones, main event caliber matches presented in their entirety, and taped vignettes which both advanced storylines and provided glimpses into the wrestlers' lives away from the ring. The combination of this fresh, "up close and personal" approach, and the all-American appeal of the Von Erich brothers, sent the show's ratings through the roof.
Doris Adkisson divorced Fritz in 1992, and he made his final public appearance at the Global Wrestling Federation's April 1993 memorial show for Kerry at the Sportatorium, seconding Kevin and Chris Adams against Freebirds Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts, who were accompanied by Skandor Akbar. In late July of 1997, while hospitalized due to a stroke, he was diagnosed with inoperable lung and brain cancer. Fritz Von Erich died less than two months later, on September 10, at the age of 68.