Bobby Bruns was a longtime wrestler and champion. Originally from Chicago, Bruns made
his home in it’s suburb, Oak Park, Bruns held the World Heavyweight Title three-times. On
June 1, 1937, he wrestled World Champion Everette Marshall at the Public Hall in
Cleveland. The match ended in 44:48 when Bruns was laid out and unable to recover.
Bruns was unconscious on the mat and according to one source, he suffered a broken
vertebrae. Police and doctors left the wrestler left on the mat without moving him for ten-
minutes before he was able to awake. Needless to say, Marshall retained his title. Bruns
began a winning streak and many promoters began to take notice.
On January 11, 1940, Bruns beat Andy Mexiner in two-straight falls in Kansas City. A
week later, he returned to the Memorial Hall to wrestle Orville Brown for the vacant World
Heavyweight Title, recognized by the state of Kansas and by promoter George Simpson.
He won the first in 40:30 and then the 3rd in 5:00 to capture the championship. Bruns
departed the region, but Brown stayed back and continue to turn away his opponents.
There was no doubting it, when Bruns entered the Central States to defend his crown,
Orville Brown was his number one challenger. He began to have problems with another
man, Karol Krauser in February.
Bruns defended his title against him on February 22nd at the Hall and captured the initial
match in 40:02. Krauser won the second, but the third went to a double countout. The
match was inconclusive and George Simpson signed a rematch for March 21st. The
champion won this time with the 1st and 3rd falls. On the 28th, Bruns met Brown in a
rematch of their February bout. After being tied at one apiece, Bruns and Orville Brown
collided in the ring and both were knocked out. The referee called the match a draw. A
controversial match between Bruns and Friedrich Otto Von Schact was held on May 24,
1940 in Kansas City. He lost the first fall, but won the second by disqualification. The
Memorial Hall fans surrounded Schact, angry at his tactics, nearly rioting. Schact was
escorted the dressing room and refused to exit for the final fall. He forfeited the match and
Orville Brown continued to loom in the background, turning back opponent after opponent,
but Bruns made it known that he would never give the man another title shot. He had
beaten him already, and Orville was no longer a challenge. He met a claimant to the
World Junior Championship, Steve Brody on May 31st in Kansas City, A special handicap
bout in which Bruns had to win two falls over Brody or forfeit in 60:00. Brody was
accompanied by Orville Brown to the ring. Bruns won the first in 31:03 with a body
smother then captured the second in 14:54 using the same move.
On June 13th, a match of historical importance was held in Kansas City and Bobby Bruns
had no choice but to appear and defend his championship against Orville Brown. He won
the first fall after a back drop in 33:38, but Brown rebounded to take the second using a
piledriver. Bruns was seemingly out of it for the third as well, and could barely defend
himself. Three minutes went by before he was pinned again and Brown was awarded the
MWA World Title Belt. On June 20, 1946, Bruns defeated Brown and captured the MWA
World Heavyweight Title in Kansas City. Lost the belt back to Brown on August 8th. In
April 1948, Bruns regained the MWA Title in Kansas City from Brown, but lost in a rematch
during the month of May.
Lou Spandle, a respected official, stopped a wrestling match between Bruns and Buddy
Rogers on December 6, 1948 in Wichita before 4,000 fans. The two-of-three-falls match
was a bloody brawl. Rogers took the opening fall in 15:50 and Bruns won the second in
12:40. After 16:40 of the third, Spandle called for the bell. The wrestlers were separated
and match was over. It was declared a draw. He faced Rogers again in Kansas City on
May 12, 1949 and referee Lou Spandle disqualified both men for using chairs during the
third fall of an even bout. Bruns’ was rewarded for his heroism and granted a NWA World
Title match against Orville Brown on May 19th in front of a large crowd at the Memorial
Hall. Bruns won the first in 17:40, but lost the remainder consecutively. It seemed that
Rogers and Brown were his two biggest foes.
Bruns beat Whitey Whittler in two-straight falls on September 29, 1949 at Memorial Hall in
Kansas City. While tending to his wrist lock on Whittler in the first fall, Bruns forced his
opponent from the ring with a shoulder injury. The second fall was won by default. He
teamed with Ronnie Etchison against Bill Longson and Bob Wagner on October 6th in
Kansas City. Bruns won the first over Wagner, but the opposite team captured the
remaining straight to end the bout. Wagner scored the last over Bruns. He met Wagner in
a singles contest in the main event of a Memorial Hall card on October 13th. Bruns gained
revenge by winning the second and third falls to beat him.
He stopped Jimmy Coffield in two-straight on October 20th on the under card of Lou Thesz’
s National Wrestling Association World Title defense against Lord Albert Mills. Many
thought Bruns would be the key man to face the winner. Thesz won and left the territory.
He met another wrestler in contention, Bill Longson on October 27th in Kansas City.
Longson beat Bruns in the first fall in 13:20. Bruns won the second in 8:10. After an
atomic drop in the third, Bruns was unable to continue and Longson was awarded the
match. He was scheduled to face Longson in a rematch in Kansas City on Thursday,
November 3, 1949 and was to appear in Wichita on the 1st. He would not be able to make
it to either.
Bruns suffered near career threatening injuries on the morning of November 1st en route
from Des Moines to Kansas City on Highway 65 in northwestern Missouri. Also in the car
was the recognized World Champion, and life-long friend and opponent, Orville Brown. He
was replaced by Enrique Torres on the November 3rd show in Kansas City. Fans of both
men were shocked to hear the news and wished them well. Bruns made immediate
progress in his recovery and was predicated to return to the ring, but made his
appearance sooner rather then later.
On November 17, 1949, Bruns returned to the Kansas City Memorial Hall as a spectator,
amazing fans and promoters alike, only 16 days after an accident in which those who saw
the wreckage believed all had been killed. Bruns had been recently released from the
Research Hospital several days earlier. Brown, on the other hand, was released on the
afternoon of the 17th.
Bruns returned in 1950 and remained active through the early 1960s. He was also a
mentor for many of wrestling’s up-and-comers, including “Cowboy” Bob Ellis, while he was
touring through the Central States.
Other Historical Notes:
Dan Parker reported, in his column reprinted in the Montreal Gazette (1/29/48) that
"Bobby Burns" had received an indefinite suspension for "conduct detrimental to best
interests of wrestling."
Bruns was Al Karasick's representative on a breakthrough tour of American professional
wrestlers in Japan in 1951. Karasick later said that Bruns laid the "groundwork for
promoting and booking the country."
In January 1953, Bruns was in Hawaii and working with Karasick and there was some talk
of his going to St. Louis in the near future. On his letterhead, Bruns was called a
"Promotional Advisor" with "World-Wide Affiliations" to include the U.S., Hawaii, South
Africa, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Karasick had
been in poor health and Bruns and Karasick's daughter Betty were cooperating in
handling the booking and promotional duties as Karasick recovered.
In a January 15, 1953 letter from Bruns to Sam Muchnick, Bobby talked about being
booked into Kansas City. He wrote: "I don't intend to have my brains all knocked out as
far as reputation is concerned should [Orville] Brown still be of his silly, jealous attitude."
Along with the Sharpe Brothers, Bruns returned to Japan in March as part of another
Karasick contingent, "and they got fine results," Karasick told Muchnick in a letter on
November 18, 1954.
In 1960, Bruns was the primary booker in St. Joseph, Kansas City, and St. Louis, and even
sent workers into Des Moines, the territory formerly operated by Pinkie George.
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Bobby Bruns Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling