I’ve been a wrestling fan off and on for most of my life, my late father responsible for introducing me to it when I was just a child.
My father would sit in the living room and hold onto the arms of his easy chair with a white-knuckle grip while watching wrestling on Saturday. Everybody knew not to walk between him and the TV screen.
Along with watching wrestling on TV, my father enjoyed going to live events. He used to take me to the old Southside School gym (now the Blue Building) to see NWA wrestling when it came around. One of my first memories of live wrestling was of wrestlers like Bearcat Brown, Tojo Yamamoto and this blond-haired man who would strut around the ring after delivering an atomic knee drop to his opponent. His name was Jackie Fargo and that strut he did became known as the Fargo Strut. He died this week at the age of 85 from heart failure.
Jackie Fargo was a hard-core legend in the Midsouth. He was perhaps best known for his feud with Jerry “The King” Lawler back in the renaissance days of professional wrestling. However, he performed back in the 1950s in places like Madison Square Garden before becoming a staple of Midsouth wrestling. He worked alongside other stars like Lou Thesz, Len Rossi and Jerry Jarrett during his career.
Famed manager Jim Cornette credits Fargo with innovating what would become hard-core wrestling. He popularized the use of tables and chairs in a rough and tumble version of professional wrestling that still exists today.
As for Fargo, he enjoyed a successful career which spanned up until recently. Some of my friends saw him perform in Lebanon just a couple of years ago when he was well into his 80s. Like I’ve long maintained, very few professional wrestlers actually retire.
While many outside the Midsouth will never know who “The Fabulous One” Jackie Fargo was, they can see his reflection every time they see “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair do his strut around the ring. What he does is a rendition of the Fargo Strut.
It was as I was researching this column I also found out his old tag-team partner, Rough House Fargo passed away back in 2008 at the age of 80. Those of you who saw the pair at Southside know Roughhouse’s gimmick was one where Jackie would claim he had to check him out of a mental institution. Roughhouse would then go berserk after hitting the ring, attacking everyone in sight, including Jackie.
Roughhouse, whose real name was Jack Lewis Faggart, partnered with Jackie after Jackie’s real-life brother and tag-team partner, Don Fargo, was injured for a time after he accidentally shot himself in the leg.
I’m 48-years-old and can still remember Jackie and Roughhouse performing at Southside. That’s quite a statement to their abilities since I can’t even recall what I ate for supper yesterday.
Locally, if you missed Tennessee All-Pro Wrestling this past Saturday night then you missed the best tag-team match I’ve ever seen at any level. The Elements of Wrestling took on Adam McCormick and TAP Champion Shawn Fatal in an instant classic. I’m hoping for a sequel this week. Along with a potential second classic, there will be a mixed martial arts match during the show. This week has a special start time of 7:30 p.m. The arena is located at the intersection of the bypass and Red Road at the old cheese factory.