CHILDHOOD HEROES



LEE FIELDS

Lee Fields was “The Godfather” of Gulf Coast professional wrestling. What a class act. A true ring legend and a mentor. I probably would have never discovered this great sport of our if it wasn't for Lee Fields.


Lee was the promoter of Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling and the Mobile International Speedway for many years. The Fields Family wrestling dynasty will always be remembered, as it was the era that I grew up in. Lee's brothers, Bobby and Don, were also wrestlers. His dad, Speedy Hatfield, promoted and refereed. Lee's Mom was Bonnie Welch, sister of the wrestling Welch family (Roy, Jack, Herb, and Lester). The Welch/Fuller/Fields/Golden clan had over 20 members of their family in our industry.


My lifetime interest in professional wrestling began at about the time I learned to walk. I remember that my Mom and Dad would take me to the local “Wrestling Live On Channel 5” studio television tapings. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. I remained a wrestling fan throughout my childhood, however my fascination really took off when I received my driver’s license and I was able to go to the matches by myself around the Gulf Coast area. If there was wrestling in town I was there, becoming a fixture at Mobile’s old Ft. Whiting Armory. When Gulf Coast Wrestling moved to the Mobile Municipal Auditorium (now known as the Civic Center), I moved right along with them, missing only a handful of events in seven years.


Since photography was one of my hobbies, I was able to get my foot into the wrestling door as a ringside photographer. I furnished photos for the arena program, wrestling magazines and even the Mobile Register newspaper. As time passed, I picked up a few wrestling lessons from Gulf Coast Wrestling legends.


BOBBY HEENAN

I've been asked many times through the years who my favorite manager is. That question is very easy for me to answer: it's the one and only Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.


I admired and respected Bobby Heenan for many years, prior to meeting him in 1978. He came to Jackson, Mississippi with the AWA World Heavyweight champion Nick Bockwinkel. It is without a doubt another story of one of my heroes becoming one of my friends. I patterned the early Percy Pringle III character entirely after "The Brain."


Back in the days before the internet or even cable television, your window to the wrestling world was the wrestling magazines. As a young fan, Bill Moody would read all about this young manager named Bobby Heenan, who was the most colorful, most outrageous and most successful wrestling personae at the time. Moody wanted to be just like him. That’s why he bleached his hair: to look like Bobby Heenan. He became the Bobby Heenan he saw in the magazines. He didn’t who how he moved or even sounded, but Bill emulated his style and his psychology (or, at least what he imagined it to be).


Years later, after joining The WWF, I was fortunate enough to able to work side by side with my managerial idol. He's the best. What else can I say?


I love Bobby Heenan not just as a Legend in our industry, but as a fine outstanding human being. Now take that to the bank... humanoids!





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" (bad guy) 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 succeeded. 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.


He was truly an inspiration to me, and I will never forget the hours of ringside enjoyment he provided.



COWBOY BOB KELLY

As a boy, Bill Moody fancied the heel (bad guy) wrestlers. On the opposite end of the spectrum was “Cowboy” Bob Kelly, who was almost like the John Wayne of the Gulf Coast territory.


As he grew older, and got more entrenched in the professional wrestling business, Moody grew to appreciate the merits of the soft-spoken but wildly successful Kelly. He spoke softly, but this former rodeo cowboy could more than take care of business!


In later years, Bill and Bob became dear friends, as the two men served on the board of directors for the Gulf Coast Wrestlers Reunion.


It is truly a blessing to have a childhood hero that you can call your friend. That is how I sum up Cowboy Bob Kelly, a true legend of Gulf Coast Wrestling.


A man of incredible heart and integrity, it was so easy to see why he was so beloved throughout the region. Bill thought the world of Bob and his amazing wife, Chris, who were married more than 50 years – a true rarity in professional wrestling.