Many of wrestling’s fans may remember Blassie for his favorite one-liner as well as a hit
song, “Pencil-Neck Geek.” Older generations will look at a different Fred Blassie, one who
dominated audiences with his strong personality and “bad guy” image. He was a wrestler
who spent decades in the wrestling world, winning championship battles all over the world.
“Classie” Fred Blassie is that. He is a legend with a history not totally known by all. From
his reigns dominating the Pacific Coast mat scene as a claimant to the World Heavyweight
Wrestling Title, to his earlier days touring the Mid-Atlantic. His feuds with The Destroyer, Ed
Carpentier, Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, John Tolos and Buddy Austin electrified
audiences everywhere and sold tens of thousands of tickets on any given night.
Blassie served in the Navy during World War II and was an amateur wrestling champion of
the 7th Naval District. After his discharge, Blassie both boxed and wrestled professionally.
He entered the pro-mat sport under the tutelage of Billy Hanson and wrestled as “Sailor”
Fred Blassie. During the 1940s and 1950s, he wrestled throughout the United States
including Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Georgia, Texas, Mid-Atlantic Region and California.
Blassie captured the Southern Heavyweight Title on more than ten occasions in Georgia.
In 1947, Blassie suffered a near career ending injury to his head when he was tossed out of
a ring by Rudy Dusek. He was able to recover fully. Blassie ventured to the West Coast
and became famous for being a heel.
On June 12, 1961, he beat Edouard Carpentier and captured a claim to the World
Heavyweight Title. Blassie won the match after the referee stopped the action during the
3rd fall of an even match. He battled the legendary Rikidozan for the belt on March 28,
1962, and lost the championship. He regained the WWA Belt in July 1962 at Los Angeles.
Blassie entered a violent feud with the masked Destroyer and lost the title to him, but
regained it in May 1963. Blassie was counted out in a “City of Angeles” match against
Bearcat Wright on August 23rd. Officials gave the WWA Title to the challenger.
Blassie won his fourth WWA Championship in January 1964, beating Carpentier for the
rights. Although Freddie was often the top man in the west, he made several trips east a
year to either ward off other regional champions or battle down former enemies. He was
billed as the WWA Champion upon his arrival despite other claims. Blassie met the WWWF
World Champion, Bruno Sammartino in a champion vs. champion situation in Jersey City,
New Jersey at Roosevelt Stadium on June 26, 1964. Over 12,000 fans watched a
controversial match in which referee John Feldhauser awarded a victory to Blassie, but not
the WWWF Title. Feldhauser had been knocked out and during that time, Blassie
submitted to Sammartino’s backbreaker, but nothing was seen by any official. Time
elapsed and Blassie landed a low blow, which put Sammartino on the canvas. The referee
awoke to see him down and ended up counting him out. Angry fans booed, and Blassie
thought he was the new champion. Police were called in to escort him out of the ring.
There was no title change. Sammartino retained but the match was important all around. It
was firmly establishing Blassie as the top heel in the United States, replacing the retired
He remained in New York. On November 16, 1964 in New York, Blassie beat the popular
Pedro Morales. In Los Angeles, Blassie captured the Americas Heavyweight Title from Mark
Lewin on August 25, 1967. He was suspended in 1968 and the title was declared vacant by
officials. Blassie defeated Bobo Brazil in January 1969 to win his second Americas
Championship. He lost the belt, but regained it from Rocky Johnson in March 1970.
Blassie had his four-year Los Angeles winning streak continue after a successful NWA
Americas Title defense against Dutch Savage in early 1971. On the card was the 22-man
annual battle royal. Blassie won his fourth Americas Title in April.
Blassie returned to the WWWF and upon retiring from active competition, Blassie became a
manager. He took Waldo Von Erich and Stan Hansen into his stable. Blassie and Hansen
made a run at Sammartino’s World Title and even conspired to break the champion’s neck.
In 1977, Blassie managed the team of Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka to the WWWF Tag
Title. On September 27, 1977 in Philadelphia, the tag team beat Larry Zbyszko and Tony
Garea in a tournament final to capture the vacant belts. They lost the belts to Domenic
DeNucci and Dino Bravo in March 14, 1978 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. He also
managed Nikolai Volkoff, Victor Rivera, Swede Hanson and Peter Maivia, a team of violent
In 1980, Blassie managed a young Hulk Hogan, who was billed as an Irish tough man. In
1981, Blassie’s Killer Khan broke the ankle of Andre the Giant, making national headlines.
He took The Iron Sheik as a member of his stable and became the “Ayatollah,” from Iran.
On December 26, 1983, the Sheik defeated Bob Backlund and captured the WWF World
Title in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Less than a month later on January 23, 1984,
Blassie’s old pupil, Hulk Hogan, stepped into the same ring and took the World Belt off the
Sheik. Fred also managed Kamala, George Steele and Corporal Kirschner, among others
going into 1986.
During the ’80s, he retired from the sport altogether. Blassie made a surprise appearance
on July 16, 2001 to motivate a pack of WWF wrestlers in their war with the invading
Alliance. His words picked up the downed spirits as all knew that they were listening to a
professional wrestling mat legend. If anyone knew how to fight the war and win, it was
“Classy” Freddie Blassie.
-A multiple-time NWA Southern Heavyweight Champion
-A four-time AWA/ WWA World Heavyweight Champion
-Defeated Edouard Carpentier (1961)
-Defeated Rikidozan (1962)
-Defeated The Destroyer (1963)
-Defeated Edouard Carpentier (1964)
Research by Tim Hornbaker
Other Notes & Information:
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday, October 29, 1946 that "last night" in Des
Moines, "Sailor Blassie" of St. Louis had been injured during a match against Ernie Dusek.
The injury occurred at the 49:11 mark when Blassie received a body backdrop and he
apparently had been knocked out. Preliminary examinations revealed a possible
concussion and his condition was "fair." Further tests were being conducted.
|Fred Blassie Wrestling History
Legends of Pro Wrestling