Ernie Ladd

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Title History

  • WWA (Los Angeles) World Tag Team titles w/Edouard Carpentier (February 1964);
  • NWA Texas Heavyweight title defeating Fritz Von Erich (1965);
  • NWF (Cleveland and Buffalo) North American Heavyweight title defeating Bulldog Brower (December 5, 1970);
  • NWF (Cleveland and Buffalo) Brass Knuckles title defeating Luke Graham (May 18, 1972);
  • NWF (Cleveland and Buffalo) World Heavyweight title defeating Waldo Von Erich (June 9, 1972);
  • NWA (Los Angeles) Americas Heavyweight title defeating John Tolos (July 28, 1972);
  • WWA (Indianapolis) World Tag Team titles w/Baron Von Raschke defeating Crusher and Dick the Bruiser (Febuary 24, 1973);
  • NWA (Los Angeles) Americas Heavyweight title defeating Porkchop Cash (July 12, 1974);
  • WWC (World Wrestling Council) North American Heavyweight title defeating Carlos Colon (October 21, 1974);
  • NWA (Los Angeles) Americas Heavyweight title defeating Louie Tillet (October 1975);
  • NWA Florida Heavyweight title defeating Dusty Rhodes (July 15, 1977);
  • NWA (Tri State) North American Heavyweight title defeating Dick Murdoch (Febuary 14, 1978);
  • NWA (Tri State) United States Tag Team titles w/Assassin defeating Steven Little Bear and Ray Candy (April 5, 1978);
  • NWA (Tri State) North American Heavyweight title defeating Paul Orndorff (June 1978);
  • NWA (Tri State) North American Heavyweight title defeating August 15, 1978);
  • NWA Arkansas Heavyweight title won a tournament (October 26, 1978);
  • NWA (Tri State) North American Heavyweight title defeating Ray Candy via forfeit (December 25, 1978);
  • NWA (Florida) Southern Heavyweight title defeating King Curtis Iaukea (October 1979);
  • NWA Georgia Tag Team titles w/Ole Anderson defeating Tommy Rich and Crusher Lisowski (October 5, 1979);
  • Mid South Louisiana Heavyweight title defeating Mike Sharpe (January 18, 1980);
  • NWA Central States Tag Team titles w/Bruiser Brody defeating Jerry and Ted Oates in a tournament final (Febuary 3, 1980);
  • Mid South Tag Team titles w/Leroy Brown defeating Terry Orndorff and Junkyard Dog (November 1980);
  • WWA (Indianapolis) World Heavyweight title defeating Dick the Bruiser (November 1, 1980);
  • Mid South Louisiana Heavyweight title defeating Jake Roberts (January 16, 1981);
  • Mid South Tag Team titles w/Leroy Brown defeating Killer Karl Kox (Febuary 1, 1981);
  • NWA (World Class) American Heavyweight title defeating Kerry Von Erich (May 11, 1981);
  • NWA Texas Brass Knuckles title defeating Jose Lothario (November 1981);
  • Mid South North American Heavyweight title defeating Magnum T.A (October 16, 1984);
  • AFL (American Football League) Hall of Fame Inductee;
  • Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Inductee;
  • WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Hall of Fame Inductee (1994);
  • Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Inductee (1994);
  • San Diego Hall of Champions Inductee (February 22, 2005);

Career History

In the Beginning

  • 1960s: Ernie Ladd played professionally for the San Diego Chargers, Houston Oilers and Kansas City Chiefs.
  • Ernie Ladd was selected 15th in the American Football League draft by San Diego out of Grambling College.
  • Ernie Ladd was the first football player to make the transition to successful wrestler (recruited by Fred Blassie).
  • Check out Ernie Ladd’s football stats here: http://www.footballcardgallery.com/player/Ernie+Ladd/

Getting Into The Business

  • Ernie Ladd initially started to team with Bobo Brazil but eventually turned on him and started a run as an arrogant outspoken heel.
  • 1963: Ernie Ladd earned his first World Heavyweight title shot against the legendary NWA World Champion, Lou Thesz.
  • August 14, 1970 – AWA Comiskey Park: Blackjack Lanza and Ernie “The Cat” Ladd fought to a Double Disqualification.

Mid-South Wrestling

  • 1981-82: Ernie Ladd managed the Wild Samoans in Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling.
  • ~~~The Wild Samoans won the Mid-South Tag Team titles under Ernie Ladd’s guidance.
  • ~~~The Wild Samoans turned on Ernie Ladd and joined General Skandar Akbar‘s Devestation Inc.
  • ~~~Ernie Ladd recruited the legendary Assassin to help him battle the Wild Samoans.
  • ~~~The Assassin ALSO turned on Ernie Ladd and joined Devestation Incorporated.
  • ~~~Ernie Ladd then recruited Canadian wrestler “Iron” Mike Sharpe as his new partner.
  • ~~~1982: Ernie Ladd and Mike Sharpe drove the Samoans out of Mid-South Wrestling.
  • ~~~Ernie Ladd defeated The Assassin in several singles encounters.

Retirement

  • 1984: Ernie Ladd retired from the squared circle due to the poor condition of his knees.
  • Ernie Ladd briefly worked for the World Wrestling Federation as a broadcast announcer.
  • 2000-01: Ernie Ladd helped out on the successful U.S. presidential campaign of George W. Bush.
  • August 23, 2003: Ernie Ladd was featured in the cover story of WWE Confidential along with interviews from The Cat.
  • Ernie Ladd appeared in an episode of That 70s show, the same one where The Rock played his own father, Rocky Johnson.
  • April 2004: Ernie “The Cat” Ladd was the man who officially inducted the Junkyard Dog into the WWE Hall of Fame.
  • February 2005: Ernie Ladd has fully recovered from colon cancer that at one point was expected to be terminal.
  • February 22, 2005: Ernie Ladd was honored in the San Diego Hall of Champions Hall of Fame.
  • September 2005: Ernie Ladd ministered to evacuees at the Astrodome who had been transported from New Orleans after the floods.
  • March 10, 2007: Ernie Ladd passed away from cancer (colon, stomach and bones) at the age of 68 in Franklin, Louisiana.

    Dory Funk Jr. wrote: The Kansas City Chief’s Ernie Ladd was one of my heroes. As a young football fan and professional wrestler, I watched Ernie play football for the Chiefs as they won nine games and lost five, winning the AFL Championship. Ernie played defensive end and tackle, the same position I played in college. Ernie was 6′ 9″ and 315 pounds wearing a size 18 football shoe and was billed as the largest and strongest man in professional football. There have been heavier and maybe some taller, but Ernie was a big man who was highly intelligent and a well coordinated athlete.

I walked into the dressing room in the Civic Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, one of the hottest wrestling cities in the Amarillo Territory. It was early and the only one in the dressing room was “The Big Cat,” Ernie Ladd. Ernie got up from lacing his humongous wrestling shoes to greet me with a big smile. I looked up at his smiling face and shook his hand. it was like shaking hands with Andre the Giant as his hand completely wrapped around mine.

I asked Ernie about his college football days at Grambling University. Ernie looked at me and said, “I went to college on an academic scholarship.”

I laid my wrestling bag on the table in front of the mirrors in the Civic Center dressing room and opened it up to start getting dressed for the show. Ernie noticed a small magnetic chess board in my wrestling bag. (Chess was a fad in the Amarillo Territory made popular by Bobby Fischer’s victory over Russia’s Boris Spassky at the top of the world in Reykjavik, Iceland) Ernie challenged me to a game of Chess. I thought I was pretty good having beat Corsica Jean at the Saturday TV Taping in Amarillo the day before.

I manipulated my Queen into position and said to Ernie, “Check.” Ernie moved his King to safe and I followed up by sliding my Rook into an advantageous position feeling the thrill of victory on the next move.

Ernie had stacked his Queen behind his Bishop. Sliding his Bishop to the right giving check by exposure with his Queen and trapping my King with the same Bishop, Ernie said, “Check Mate.”

Ernie was happy, he smiled big, his eyes opened wide and his forehead extended back slightly. He was thrilled to have beaten the NWA World Champion in a game of Chess.

I was scheduled to wrestle my Football Hero, Ernie Ladd that night in Albuquerque for the NWA World Championship. I had watched Ernie wrestle my father Dory Funk Sr. in Amarillo the year before. Ernie Walked away with a victory in Dad’s home town, quite an accomplishment. After the match, Dory Funk Sr. had only respect for Ernie Ladd. Dad spoke of what a great athlete he was. They became friends for life.

Mike London, the wrestling promoter in Albuquerque, New Mexico stood in the center of the ring and called for the microphone to introduce the contestants wrestling for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Ernie Ladd had so much heat it was difficult to hear the introduction. Ernie walked the walk and talked the talk, but when we hooked up I could feel the awesome power that made this man a legend in two professional sports.

After the thirty minute mark, I caught Ernie with a forearm blow that caught him by surprise. I threw three more as hard as I could and on the forth, the Big Cat went down. I picked up the spinning toe hold and from the underneath the Big Cat jabbed me in the throat with his patented tapped thumb. I went down and rolled out of the ring and out to the floor.

The wrestling fans were in an uproar. As I came back to the ring apron, Ernie went for a body slam from the outside in. I under hooked his arm and using his own momentum rolled the Big Cat forward into a cradle for the three count and the victory.

As Ernie kicked out on the finish, I looked him right in the eye and said, “Checkmate.” His forehead stretched, his eyes opened wide and his face broke into a big smile.

After the show that night, I talked to Ernie a lot about understanding people, their feelings, their hopes, their fears and emotions. Ernie taught me a lot that night about working with people that helped me in my future as a wrestler, wrestling promoter and Coach of Professional Wrestlers.

About two years ago, Ernie gave me a call. I asked him, “what’s up?” Ernie said, “I just wanted to tell You and Marti I love you and I am praying for you. God Bless You Both.”

“God Bless you too Ernie.”

From the Funking Conservatory our condolences to the family of “The Big Cat” Ernie Ladd.