THE WRESTLING PRO

It doesn't matter if you are a fan sitting in the audience, or a veteran performer. We all have our heroes. I am proud to say that my first wrestling idol was Leon "Tarzan" Baxter, known as The Wrestling Pro.

It probably doesn't surprise you to know that I was always a "heel" (badguy) fan. If there ever was a "heel" in Gulf Coast Wrestling, it certainly was The Wrestling Pro. He faced them all. From Cowboy Bob Kelly, Lou Thesz, Danny Hodge, Ken Mantell, to Ken Lucas. In all the years that he competed along the Gulf Coast, he never was unmasked.

I tried my best to catch him without his famous hood, but never suceeded. Believe it or not, I used to sit in front of the wrestling office for hours waiting for him to go in or out. I also spent many Tuesday afternoons, in my car on the side of Interstate-10, just praying that he would pass by on the way to the Mobile matches. I even gathered a group of fans together and made the trip over to Pensacola to the weekly WEAR-TV studio wrestling tapings. We were "The Wrestling Pro Fan Club," and even held up our homemade signs to prove it. I love telling Leon these stories now, and I am still intimidated by his presence at our annual Gulf Coast Wrestling Reunion.

I am just tickled to death to add The Wrestling Pro's name to my Hall Of Fame. He was truly an inspiration to me, and I will never forget the hours of ringside enjoyment he provided. I took this picture of The Pro during my days as a ringside photographer. Who would have ever known what the future would hold for us all. Leon is long retired from the ring, and from his job as a Houston County Alabama Sheriff Deputy in Dothan. Thanks for the memories...