Bob Orton was from Ozark Country around Springfield, Missouri. He was discovered by
Ernie Dusek and nicknamed the “Big O.” He was the father of “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. He
made his professional debut in 1949 at Wichita, Kansas. Orton met Heart of America
Heavyweight Champion, Alo Leilani in Kansas City on December 20, 1951. He took the
regional crown after winning the second fall in 7:45 and then the third in 11:05. Leilani took
the initial at the 18:10 mark. Using scientific skill and finesse, Orton beat Jimmy Coffield in a
hard fought bout on December 27, 1951 at the Memorial Hall. On the 3rd of January 1952,
Orton met the Masked Monster. He not only beat the unknown but unmasked him in front of
a live crowd to be Tiny Zimbleman of Cheyenne.
Orton was on a roll, grabbing interest from other territories and gaining a huge fan base
in the Central States Region. He drew with Ray Eckert, both even at one, on January 10th.
In their main event rematch a week later, Orton beat Eckert in two-straight falls. The first
was awarded via disqualification. The second by pin. In the weeks following, Enrique
Torres established himself as the number one contender after ousting Eckert from the top
spot. Orton gave Torres a chance at the crown on February 7th in Kansas City. He
retained his title. Bob beat Dutch Hefner on the 14th. Torres didn’t give up, though, as
easy as one might have thought. He challenged Orton on the 21st of February and the two
went to the midnight curfew tied 1-1.
On the 28th of February, Torres stopped Orton with the 2nd and 3rd falls to win the
Heart of America Heavyweight Title. Orton had injured his back during the second fall and
was unable to go any further. The former champ was carried from the ring. From there,
Orton traveled to Chicago and then on to the East Coast to continue a national tour. He
returned to Kansas City in 1954 and began petitioning for a title shot. Orton met Dave Sims
at Memorial Hall in February 1954 and regained the regional championship. He made
appearances throughout Kansas and Missouri, including St. Joseph, to defend the title.
The usually popular Bob Orton gained an unfavorable position in Florida in March 1964.
He held the NWA Southern Title when he met a nationally celebrated wrestler, Bob Ellis.
Orton lost the first and succumbed the second when he was unable to continue. He
suffered a neck injury in a match against Don Curtis several days before and the title
defense against Ellis finished it off. He lost the Southern Title. He stated that he was out of
action for two months.
Upon Orton’s return to the local Floridian scene, fans were again jolted by the man’s
change. Orton was brutal and on his first television appearance in Tampa, he beat a young
Indian wrestler to a bloody pulp. Police were called in to stop the attack. He took Antone
Leone as his manager and again set his sights on the Southern Title. And the NWA World
Bob Orton never won the NWA Title, but he gave every reigning champion a tough time.
There were several occasions that it seemed as if he were only seconds away from
capturing the belt, but it never happened. He retired during the 1970s, only to watch his
son make waves throughout the Alliance and then the WWF. The Orton name in pro-
wrestling signifies a pure toughness. Today, Bob’s grandson Randy Orton is a superstar in
Research by Tim Hornbaker
|Bob Orton Sr. Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling