Knoxville radio DJ Tony Basilio starts the show and hypes things up stating this will be another great podcast covering the historic July 1965 card at the old Atlanta Ponce De Leon stadium.
Ron Fuller steps in and talks about the process of creating a big card in terms of building talent and creating matches. The stadium, according to both Basilio and Fuller, was 180% percent of capacity and definitely violated fire codes. According to Fuller, there were 10,000 people on the streets unable to get in.
Fuller mentioned the history of Ponce De Leon, which was primarily used for minor league baseball and also for a Negro League baseball team. Basilio pointed out at the time Atlanta was not as built up yet and in 1965 was a “sleepy” Southern town with a total population of around 900,000. Since this card would feature Boxer Rocky Marciano, they also mentioned the stadium was the site of the first boxer vs. wrestler match between Jack Dempsey and Cowboy Luttrel back in the ’40s.
The hosts both then discussed various boxer vs. wrestler matches, including the Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki closed circuit event in 1976, which while not a great match due to Inoki working on the ground avoiding Ali’s punches, still was a huge money maker. Various other boxer vs. Wrestler matches were mentioned, including Scott Ledoux vs. Larry Zybyszko. Since the Ali/Inoki match was in Budokan, Fuller told a funny story about being scolded by Japanese wrestler in 1983 for attempting to take bath in a Sumo bathtub, which is considered sacred.
As for the card itself, Fuller described the night of the show mentioning the makeup of the ticket booth which had bars. The tickets were not sold in advance, and while a good crowd was expected, they were not prepared for the actual huge turnout which exceeded expectations. Fuller talks about traffic delays and police having to show up to restore order. People hung on the bars begging to get in. They created general admission seats for people to stand behind the ringside seats on the field. Basilio asked how management prevented ticket sellers from pocketing money for themselves when this occurred. Fuller did not have a clear answer and stated it became out of control. The card was supposed to start at 8:30 but due to the huge crowd it started at 9.
Fuller mentions opening matches featuring a young Bob Armstrong and the future Jay Strongbow, then using his real name Joe Scarpa. They were all good matches but the crowd was restless for the main events.
One such match pitted the legendary, innovative high-flyer Antonio Rocca vs. Sputnik Monroe. Ron’s father did not care for Rocca’s style of wrestling. He preferred actual mat wrestling. Fuller reportedly told Monroe to hit Rocca for real, so during the match after Rocca was dominating with his high-flying maneuvers, Monroe clocked Rocca. Instead of fighting back, Rocca left the ring, which killed the match and confused the crowd. Fuller speculated that Rocca was not a shooter and knew something was up so he just left the ring.
The tag team title match involving the Von Brauners and Lester Welch and Ray Gunkel put the show back on track. There were a lot of suplexes used, which according to Fuller was not common during this period in wrestling history. Gunkel and Welch won the titles form the Von Brauners.
The main event was next. Fuller explained there was no ring music in these days but the crowd still reacted to the participants who came to the ring. Guest referee Rocky Marciano played a big role as he and Galento were at odds with each other throughout the match. Al Galento, Mario’s manager at ringside, was taking shots at Fuller as Marciano and Mario argued with each other. Eventually, Rocky saw Al Galento stand on the ring and he hit Al, knocking him out. Fuller was able to wear Galento down with a full nelson and Marciano also hit Galento, resulting in a Fuller win.
Fuller refers fans to visit his Studcast website and view the photo of his father, promoter Paul Jones, and Rocky Marciano standing together at the end of the match. Buddy Fuller looks pretty beat up.
The payoffs were discussed and Fuller speculated regarding Rocca that someone went to the other dressing room and apologized to him and possibly gave him more pay than he expected.
They announced there would be one more episode covering this card. Also, was mentioned a special 2 hour episode is coming up covering Ron Fuller’s relationship with Andre The Giant. Fans have been asked to submit questions on Facebook and twitter.
Review: 10/10. This was another great, informative episode talking about a fascinating historic event.