BIO: Bronko Lubich
Hometown: Farmers Branch, Texas (billed from Belgrade, Yugoslavia as a wrestler)
Need to Know Facts: Born Bronko Sandor Lupsity on December 25, 1925 in Batonja, Hungary, Bronko Lubich wore many hats in his 40-plus years in professional wrestling.
Trained in Montreal by wrestler Mike DiMitre, Lubich began his career in the industry wrestling across Canada, and in Chicago, the Pacific Northwest, Texas and the Southeast. His initial appearances in the Lone Star State took place in the early 1960s, both as a wrestler and as manager of Angelo Poffo. Lubich would settle into the Charlotte territory, however, for the majority of his active grappling years.
His greatest success as an active wrestler came when Lubich teamed with Aldo Bogni and manager Homer O'Dell. One of the teams they regularly faced in Charlotte were the Flying Scotts. "They were good wrestlers and they worked their butts off," remembered George Scott. They would team through the 1960s in the Carolinas, Stampede (where Bogni was Count Alexis Bruga) and Florida, and feuded with George Becker and Johnny Weaver, Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, the Andersons, and Mr. Wrestling & Sam Steamboat.
In January 1971, Bronko returned to the Dallas-Fort Worth wrestling scene, where he and rugged Chris Markoff were accompanied by 400-plus-pound manager George "The Blimp" Harris III. Lubich and Markoff feuded with longtime rivals Tim "Mr. Wrestling" Woods and George Scott, as well as one of the true dream teams of that era: the bruising babyface duo of Johnny Valentine and Wahoo McDaniel. Bronko's active wrestling days were drawing to a close, however, and in 1972 he once again donned his tuxedo and became a full-time manager, seconding the likes of Bobby ("Lord Robert") Duncum Sr., The Spoiler and Boris Malenko., as well as taking over booking duties for the promotion. Though he was thoroughly despised as a heel manager, Lubich and his men enjoyed the cheers of the fans when they went to war with Gary Hart and his stable.
It was then on the advice of Jim Crockett, Sr., that Lubich became business partners with Jack Adkisson (Fritz Von Erich) in running Southwest Sports. Not only would Bronko help Fritz promote professional wrestling in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, he would also become a highly visible referee. Lubich refereed the Sportatorium in Dallas, the North Side Coliseum (and later the Will Rogers Coliseum) in Fort Worth, and throughout the weekly circuit with stops in San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Houston.
Many World Class fans remember Lubich for his distinctive, slower three-counts. However, many former WCCW alumni remember the amount of respect Lubich commanded in and out of the squared circle. In an interview with wrestling journalist Scott Teal, former World Class mainstay Scott Casey said of Bronko: "He was a great referee. If he saw something wrong, he'd tell you. He'd correct you right in midstream."
Even former WWE Champion "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who began his career in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, praised both Bronko and former WCCW manager General Skandor Akbar in his book, The Stone Cold Truth:
We'd be together in one of their cars, and they'd be up front smoking big, smelly cigars and I'd be in the backseat asking them questions and soaking up everything they were telling me. That was a college degree in the old-school ways of doing things. I love those guys.
...Sometimes they'd tell me old wrestling stories. I'd always enjoy hearing those. I didn't have any money then, and they wouldn't charge me for transportation. I'd just sit in the back and ask them questions. Those guys were cool. They knew I was genuinely interested in learning, and they both took me under their wings.
...Both Akbar and Bronk were excellent storytellers. When one of them told a story, the way they laughed made me want to laugh too. It was a real good time in my life. Those guys and their wealth of knowledge about ring psychology were tremendous influences on me throughout my whole career. They also furthered my respect for the wrestling business.
Bronko Lubich retired from the professional ranks following Kevin Von Erich's decision to close WCCW in late 1990. In later years his health began to decline; he suffered from prostate cancer and suffered several strokes, and his wife of many years, Ella, passed away in 2004. He died at his home on August 11, 2007 at the age of 81.
Additional information for this biography from "The Life of Bronko Lubich: Wrestler, Referee and Trainer" by Greg Oliver of SLAM! Wrestling.