The Ron Fuller TN Stedfast has been bringing fans historical podcast for more than three months. Along with producer and co-host Tony Basilio, a Knoxville Tennessee radio veteran, “Fuller” (real last name Welch) digs deep into the annals of his storied family’s history in wrestling dating back to the 20’s with his grandfather.
The 22nd episode is specifically focused on roughhouse wrestler Mario Galento, who according to Fuller, had legitimate heat with his father and promoter Buddy Fuller.
Ron goes back to when he was a young kid and his dad ran the Alabama Gulf Coast area. Reportedly, Buddy Fuller and Mario Galento had two fights on the streets of Alabama, including one in a restaurant which had to broken up by the Police. These incidents and others on the local TV wrestling show led to a big match that was held at a Mobile Alabama, which set an attendance record that apparently still stands today. According to Ron, the match was quick and brutal, lasting around 7 minutes. Ron said some older fans in the ’80s approached him about it and shared their memories confirming the violent nature of the match.
Despite their major heat, Buddy Fuller kept using Galento because he could draw money. Wink, wink. I am personally quite skeptical of this claim, but kudos to Ron Fuller for trying to keep Kayfabe alive.
Fuller brings everyone up to 1965 ,where his father is booking Georgia and doing a great job. Galento is in the territory and starts talking negatively about Buddy Fuller on interviews. Ed Capral, the original commentator before Gordon Solie, would stick up for Buddy.
Eventually, Buddy agreed to a match at the Atlanta auditorium. Galento soundly defeated Fuller. Fuller apologized to fans on TV and said he was going to train for a rematch. He invited fans to come to the booking office and watch him train, and in addition, he offered to wrestle fans. He also had Ron Fuller, who was being trained by his father, to wrestle fans as well.
Fuller reportedly did not injure the fans who fought him, unlike Eddie Graham and others did years later when trying to protect the business.
This was all a buildup to a huge card at an Atlanta baseball stadium used for games prior to the Braves starting in Atlanta the following year. The card was loaded with stars of the era like the Von Brauners, a top tag team, a young Bob Armstrong, and Joe Scarpa, who later became Chief Jay Strongbow.
Galento was to be brought to ringside by Al Galento ,his storyline brother. Al was a true shooter, who according to Fuller, jammed a banana down a fan’s throat in Tennessee after he was heckled by the fan throughout the match. The fan had to be hospitalized in order to have the banana removed.
The next episode will cover the actual card and how it turned out. Co-host Tony Basilio also reminisced about Ron Wright, and how some of these territory wrestlers are larger than life characters who will never be forgotten by those who grew up in these areas.
In the case of Wright, the mayor of a town in Tennessee called the radio station and talked about the impact Wright had on that community. Fuller also previewed some future episodes that will be longer and focus on top stars like Andre the Giant. The show usually answers fan mail, but this episode was mostly dedicated to telling the story of the buildup of the Galento-Fuller feud.
Recap By: Dennis Christman