Guest Author - Vance Rowe
Dory Funk Jr. is truly one of the true legends of professional wrestling. He debuted in 1963 and just four months in, he challenged the great Lou Thesz for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. However, it wouldn’t be until 1969 when he would win the prestigious title after defeating Gene Kiniski and would hold the title for over four years. It would be the second longest uninterrupted reign of the title with Lou Thesz holding it longer. He was also the first wrestler to defend the title in Japan since Lou Thesz did. His brother, the hardcore legend, Terry Funk had also held the NWA World Heavyweight title making them the only brothers to hold it.
He would lose the title to Harley Race in 1973 under mysterious circumstances but went on to win a virtual plethora of regional titles after that. He was said to be in a car accident on his father’s ranch and was in a hurried recovery to face Race and blamed his injuries for losing the title. However, he was scheduled to lose it to Jack Brisco, but it was said that he didn’t want to lose the title to another fan favorite because that would mean that Brisco was a better wrestler, so he lost it to a heel wrestler in Race and Brisco would win the title a few months later from Harley Race. Dory Funk Jr. still says the accident did happen and was not at a hundred percent when he lost the title to Harley Race.
Throughout the 70’s and early 80’s he continued to wrestle for the NWA in the Mid-South, Georgia and Florida regions and debuted with his brother Terry in the WWF, now WWE, in 1986 and they beat the team of Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana in WrestleMania II. It was there that he was given the nickname “Hoss Funk”. When Terry left the WWF, Dory remained there for awhile as a tag team wrestler with his “storyline brother”, Jimmy Jack Funk. He also appeared in the 1996 Royal Rumble as a singles wrestler named Dory Funk, dropping the Jr. from his name.
Dory Funk Jr. has trained such wrestlers as Edge, Kurt Angle, Mickie James, Jumbo Tsuruta , Christian Cage, Lita and Ted DiBiase Sr. as well as a who’s who of other wrestlers and now runs a wrestling school in Ocala, Florida called the “Funking Conservatory” and runs a local television wrestling show from his school called “!BANG! TV”. He was honored by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 1998 and was elected into the NWA Hall of Fame in 2006.