Real Name: Harley Race
Stats: 6' 1" 245 lbs.
Born: April 11, 1943
Harley Race has been credited by numerous wrestlers as having been the toughest man in wrestling during his career, both inside and outside of the ring. Surely he is one of the most successful and respected grapplers ever to enter the squared circle. His association with the sport spanned over 30 years, and if ever someone was deserving of being in the Hall of Fame, it's 8-time N.W.A. World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race.
This hero of the "blue-collar fan" started wrestling at the age of 16 under the tutelage of Gus Karras. Early in his career, tragedy struck and he was involved in a major car accident. His injuries were so bad that doctors told him he may never walk and would definitely never wrestle again. The determined young Race refused to let his dream die, and not only did he fully recover, but he also returned to the ring...proving all doubters wrong.
But his first real national success came when he teamed with Larry "The Ax" Hennig (pictured, right) in the American Wrestling Association (A.W.A.). The rugged duo won the A.W.A. World Tag Team titles on four separate occasions, and held the belts for nearly two years all total. They were one of the AWA's toughest, most successful teams of the 1960's.
Race went on to become a dominant and respected NWA World Champion, and truly took on all comers, fighting 5 to 6 nights a week. He even took part in the first-ever NWA vs. WWWF match, wrestling WWWF champion "Superstar" Billy Graham to a bloody 1-hour draw. In following years, Race would tangle with WWF champion (and Graham's successor) Bob Backlund in several highly publicized "NWA vs. WWF" matches. The rugged champion held the N.W.A. World Title for nearly 3 years before finally being knocked off by "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes on August 8,1979. Harley regained the belt a week later and held it until he was beaten by Baba the Giant in Tokyo. Baba, like Rhodes, would only hold the title for a few weeks before Race regained the N.W.A. title. Race held the belt for yet another year, defending it 5 nights a week against the best in the world of wrestling, before losing again to Baba in Japan...and again regaining it from the Asian giant within days.
June 10, 1983 in St. Louis, Harley Race defeated reigning champ "Nature
Boy" Ric Flair for the NWA World Title, and in the process broke Lou Thesz's
record for most NWA championships won by a single wrestler. Thesz had 6
and now Race had 7. Of course, Flair would later regain the NWA belt,
though, at the first Starrcade in Greensboro, N.C. on November 24, 1983.
This date marked the "official" end of Race and the N.W.A. World Title.
However, Race did, in fact, win the NWA title one more time...
After his N.W.A. career was over, Race headed north to the World Wrestling Federation in the mid-1980's. The somewhat plain and "down to earth" Race never really fit in during his stay in the WWF, although he was very successful there. He tried to assimilate himself into the federation by dying his hair blond and using his old "Handsome" nickname, and later by using a "King" persona when he won the inaugural King of the ring tournament. Despite having Bobby "The Brain" Heenan as his manager and feuding with JYD, Jim Duggan, and even Hulk Hogan among others, it didn't really work out for Race in the WWF and he left after only a few years with Titan Sports.
the creation of his own promotion, World League Wrestling (WLW), Harley
Race returned to professional wrestling after a few years of retirement.
The regional group promotes in the same states that used to encompass Central
States Wrestling (which Race also co-owned and operated for many years),
and the fledgling indy has slowly built a following through its live events
and TV program. The Kansas City native and 8-time NWA World Champion
was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame on May 22, 1994 after an incredibly
successful career. Not bad for a man who was told he'd never walk again!
The Ring Chronicle is proud to induct the legendary, record-setting champion
Harley Race into T.R.C.'s Hall of Fame...
CLICK ON THE PHOTOLINKS BELOW FOR MORE ON HARLEY RACE:
Search Google for more info on Harley Race
Site designed by Adscape International - Copyright © 1996 - 2006