Move Over Spidey; The Destroyer is the New Masked Wall-Crawler in Town
By Dan Murphy, OWW columnist
Photo courtesy of SLAM! Wrestling
It was late afternoon on a Friday. The gentle but persistent wind blew out of the southwest, a breeze that could keenly be felt by Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer standing where he was – 357 feet in the air, peering over a ledge on the roof of the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel.
In just a few moments, he would be going over the edge.
Beyer has packed his 84 years on earth with enough adventures, experiences, and accolades to fill three lifetimes. He played in the 1953 Orange Bowl as a member of the Syracuse football squad and went on to help coach that team. Under his mask as “The Intelligent, Sensational Destroyer,” he became a pro wrestling icon and an international celebrity. He earned his Master’s degree, was a physical education teacher and swim coach, won the AWA World title, raised a family , feuded with Rikidozan, tag-teamed with Andre the Giant, shaved Gorgeous George’s head, and wrote his autobiography (“Masked Decisions: The Triangular Life of Dick ‘The Destroyer’ ‘Doctor X’ Beyer). Last year, he opened Destroyer Park Golf, the first Park Golf course in North America, near his gorgeous home in Akron, New York.
And now he was about to become the oldest man ever to rappel of the side of the 27-story casino in Niagara Falls, New York. He agreed to take the plunge to help raise funds for the 64,659 athletes who participate in Special Olympics New York. Beyer was one of almost 100 volunteers who participated in the event, which raised more than $100,000 for the organization.
Six different people had come up to him and checked his harness and the guide ropes that would carry him down the side of the building. A “Go Pro” camera was mounted on a helmet on his head. His son, Kurt, who would be accompanying his father down the side of the building, also had a camera mounted on his helmet.
“I examined everything up there,” Beyer told me a few days later, seated at a picnic bench in the yard of his home. “I looked down the left side of the building, and I could see my family down there. I waved down to them. They were happy and cheering. I was surprised to see so many family members – nieces, nephews, cousins. They were all there to cheer me on.”
Also on the ground was Beyer’s wife, Wilma, who was keeping a close eye on her husband through a pair of binoculars.
After thorough checks were made and instructions were given, Dick and Kurt stepped out over the edge. Beyer, as usual, was wearing his signature mask, white with red lining around the eyes, nose, and mouth. He also opted to wear his wrestling boots.
He could see the majestic Niagara Falls over his left shoulder as he began his slow, careful descent downward.
“I wasn’t afraid at all,” Beyer said. “The only thing that concerned me was the wind.”
The wind had pushed him slightly off-course, and caused one of the guide ropes to get tangled with his legs. That caused the rope to ride up against the inside of his left bicep and underarm, causing some rope burn to his flesh.
“I was expecting Kurt to block the wind for me. He didn’t block anything!” Beyer said with a laugh.
From below, Wilma watched her husband struggle against the wind and to right himself in the guide ropes. When the wind subsided, Beyer regained his form. From there, Beyer said, “it was a smooth ride down.”
It took about 20 minutes for The Destroyer to reach the bottom of the building. His daughter, Kris Beyer Jones, rappelled down the building a short time later. Jones had been a driving force in getting The Destroyer involved with the event. She also coordinates a monthly “Pay It Forward” fundraising program where Destroyer Park Golf looks to raise funds for a rotating group of charitable organizations.
I asked Beyer whether he would consider doing it again.
“Oh yeah, I’d do it again,” he said. “I’ll be ready to do it again next year.”
You can still donate to support The Destroyer and Special Olympics New York at http://tinyurl.com/lc43dba.
Photo courtesy of Craig Wilkins.