It with a heavy heart that I have to share the news of this morning's untimely death in Tampa of my dear friend, fellow Oklahoman, and true wrestling great Jack Brisco.
Jack and Jerry Brisco were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at WM24 in Orlando. Jack was a former NWA Champion who was universally considered as one of the greatest in ring technicians to ever lace up a pair of boots.
Jack passed away Monday morning at the at of 68 as a result of complications after under going heart surgery a week or so ago.
Brisco was a national champion at 191 pounds at Oklahoma State for HOF coach Myron Roderick. Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson did his best to recruit the Choctaw/Chickasaw Native American to come to OU to play fullback and linebacker in addition to wrestling for the Sooners. Roderick closed the deal when he promised to get life long pro wrestling fan Jack into pro wrestling via OSU alum and former NCAA Champion Lee Roy McGuirk who was the promoter in the Oklahoma area territory. Jack had been a fan of pro wrestling his entire life of which Roderick parlayed.
After winning three state championships in high school at Blackwell, Oklahoma, Jack capped his Oklahoma State career with an undefeated Junior season and his National Championship.
After his Junior year at OSU Roderick kept his recruiting promise and with Jack needing to provide for his young family, Roderick arranged for Jack to break into pro wrestling in 1965 with promoter McGuirk. I was 13 years of age at that time and Jack Brisco became one of my true heroes in sports like other Oklahomans Jim Thorpe, Dan Hodge and Mickey Mantle.
Jack eventually went to Florida to work for HOF Promoter Eddie Graham. Eddie wanted to see just how tough Jack really was and a gut check workout was arranged with Graham "hit men/tough guys" Hiro Matsuda and Don Curtis. Brisco passed the test quickly and with flying colors. The rest of Jack's distinguished and respected career is history.
I recall in the 70's refereeing several Jack Brisco vs Danny Hodge bouts for Jack's NWA Title around the Oklahoma territory. These bouts usually went an hour with no falls or occasionally the two would split falls and then go to the 60 minute time limit. Some of my fondest and most vivid moments in the wrestling business are donning the stripped shirt to ref matches involving two of my all time favorite athletes. Their matches were jaw droppers and were as athletic and compelling as any I ever witnessed.
I got to know Jack on a more personal level when I went to work in WWE in 1993 as I worked closely with Jack's brother Jerry in the talent relations department. Jerry recruited our best ever signees from the amateur ranks. Plus, Jerry and I joined forces to sign both Chris Jericho and the Big Show w/ "in home" recruiting visits in Tampa. Jerry became my closest confidant and with that came another blessing for me...getting to know, on a personal level, Jerry's big brother, the great Jack Brisco.
Hopefully many of you who are not familiar w/ Jack's work will go on WWE 24/7 or You Tube and watch this silky smooth, highly skilled, legitimately tough, easy going man have some of the greatest matches that ANY, NWA Champion ever had.
Jack's rivalry with the Funks was priceless as the two families put on a clinic whenever they were in the ring together. There's a good reason that I've used "Brisco-Funk" classic during commentary over the years and that's because it's true. The Briscos and the Funks had a natural Oklahoma vs Texas rivalry that fueled their spirited bouts even if that matter wasn't a part of the TV story. They created mat magic.
Jack and Jerry's tag bouts against Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in the Mid Atlantic territory are still talked about today.
When Jack decided to abruptly leave the WWWF, he went to the Newark Airport in the midst of a bitterly cold , snow storm and much to brother Jerry's surprise and asked to buy a plane ticket for the first flight out going South no matter the location. That was the unceremonious end to the in ring wrestling carer of one of wrestling's all time greats.
Coming off the heels of losing Steve Williams recently and now this it certainly gives one pause to stop and evaluate what's important in one' life and to certainly count one' blessings.
I feel so blessed that I got to know Jack Brisco on a personal level and I loved him like family. Jack Brisco was revered within our business but he was always just a poor kid from Oklahoma, raised without a father who always wanted to be a pro wrestler, and through hard work and dedication became one of the most famous men to ever wrestle for a living.
Jack lived his dream and helped make another poor kid from Oklahoma see that dreams can true for all of us.
God Bless you Jack and say hi to Doc when you see him.