Monday, October 20, 2014

RIP Ox Baker

 RIP Ox Baker
Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated via
Ox Baker, the pro wrestling legend known for his devastating Heart Punch, long, bushy moustache, t-shirts with ostentatious messages, and post-wrestling career in bit movie roles, has passed away. He was 80 years old. Baker's death was announced earlier this morning by Jerry Lawler on Twitter. The cause of death is unknown at this point.

Baker began wrestling in the '60s and worked for several important territories during his career. Although he did not innovate the Heart Punch, he made it his own through the most carny of means possible. Two wrestlers in the '70s died shortly after taking the ring with him. According to Wikipedia, Alberto Torres and Ray Gunkel both died shortly after wrestling against Baker and taking the Heart Punch. While Torres' cause of death was a ruptured appendix, and Gunkel died in the dressing room afterwards due to an unrelated-to-the-biz heart attack, Baker's legend was enhanced immensely (although in private, he was distraught over being associated with those deaths).

Although Baker retired in the early '80s, he continued to make sporadic appearances even up until late last year. His post-wrestling career included credits in movies such as Escape from New York and Jackie Chan's The Big Brawl. He also appeared on The Price Is Right as a contestant, which can be seen below (a tip of the hat to David Bixenspan for posting that video).

Baker's career, both inside and out of wrestling was full and accomplished. He is rightfully remembered as one of the all-time greats, a man who exuded professional wrestling beginning with his signature look. He touched a lot of people, whether as a performer, trainer, actor, or friend, and I hope that his family and friends and fans all find peace and solace. Rest in peace, Ox.