Guest Author - Vance Rowe
“Classy” Freddie Blassie
Fred Blassman was born in 1918 in St. Louis, Missouri. Freddie Blassie started his wrestling career by sneaking into cards and watching them and he would also go to where they trained and when he did it long enough to be recognized by wrestlers, they offered to teach him some moves. He soon began getting regular work wrestling in carnivals. Eventually he started getting more work from established wrestlers and learned more about the business each day.
He joined the Navy in World War II and that was very hard for him because of his German descent and his grandparents had a rough time because they were deemed as unpatriotic. Blassie also didn’t help matters when he married a Jewish girl while on shore leave. He served in the Pacific theater for about forty-two months before being discharged. When Blassie came home and went back to wrestling, he billed himself as “Sailor” Fred Blassie but it was a short lived gimmick and didn’t work very well for him. He eventually headed south in 1953 and worked for a man named Paul Jones when wrestling still had territories and he wrestled for Jones in the Georgia territory. While there he won the NWA Georgia Southern Heavyweight championship which put him in line for a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Champion whenever he passed through the territory. While in Georgia, Blassie became a full fledged heel and knew how to antagonize the crowd. He was also known as “The Vampire” because he made his opponents bleed by biting their foreheads. Legend has it that he filed his teeth to make them sharper as well to make it easier to draw blood.
In 1960 he worked in Los Angeles for the Strongbow promotion and drew a lot of fans there. He was so hated that he had to have police escorts to and from the ring. In 1961, Blassie won his first World Wrestling Association Heavyweight title when he defeated Edouard Carpentier, the “Flying Frenchman” in a two out three falls match. In one of his title defenses, a fan threw acid on his back and he had to go back to the locker room to wash it off. He also spent some time in Japan where he defeated and bloodied long time Japanese wrestling star, Rikidozan. This match, a rematch for the WWA title that he lost to Rikidozan was on live television in Japan and when he bit on Rikidozan’s forehead to draw blood, the fans were horrified. It was reported that many had heart attacks when they saw their hero covered in blood and some even reportedly died.
Blassie also wrestled in the WWWF and was managed by Lou Albano and remained with the company until his retirement in 1986. He was also a manager when he stopped wrestling and managed such wrestlers as Hulk Hogan, the Iron Shiek, Nikolia Volkoff, Ken Patera, Swede Hanson, King Kong Bundy, Killer Khan, Adrian Adonis and “Dirty” Dick Murdoch among others.
He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1994 and was one of the most prolific wrestlers in the wrestling business. The self proclaimed “Hollywood Fashion Plate” was always at the center of controversy and even made a movie with Andy Kaufman in 982 when Kaufman wanted to break into the business. It was a film made at a restaurant called Sambo’s in Los Angeles and the film was called “My Breakfast with Blassie.” Kaufman, the film and Blassie were even immortalized in a song by REM called “The Man on the Moon” The song was about Andy Kaufman and some of the lyrics mention “Mr. Blassie and the breakfast mess”. He died in Hartsdale, New York in 2003 at the young age of 85 due to heart failure.