Funk’s Corner – Final Match in Wrestling – “A New Beginning”
My final match in wrestling will take place Saturday March 1st, 2008 in Tokyo’s Sumo Hall. It will be as real and memorable as February 11, 1969, the day that changed my life forever when I won the NWA World Championship from Gene Kiniski.
My thanks to Keiji Mutoh, President of All Japan Pro Wrestling (aka Great Muta in America in the days of WCW) for hosting my final wrestling match.
I would also like to thank the wrestling fans in Japan who have stayed with me for so long and have never forgotten the good times we shared together.
I have so many memories of wrestling in Japan including my first overseas defense of the NWA World Championship in December of 69 against Antonio Inoki that went to a one hour draw and a second match against Mr. Inoki that also went to a one hour draw. A third match was scheduled in 1972 however Inoki chose to leave the company rather than face me for the NWA World Championship and start his own company, New Japan Pro Wrestling leaving me to face Seiji Sakaguchi in place of Mr. Inoki defending the NWA World Championship.
In 1973, Giant Baba formed his own company, All Japan Pro Wrestling. His associate for booking of American Wrestling talent was my Father, Dory Funk Sr.
Mr. Baba sent his prize recruit, Japanese National Champion and Olympic amateur wrestler Jumbo Tsuruta to Amarillo, Texas for training in professional wrestling. Jumbo Tsuruta became one of my best students of professional wrestling, returning to All Japan Pro Wrestling as one of their greatest stars.
I have memories of famous wrestling matches in Japan including Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tendryu, Jack Brisco, Billy Robinson, Rob Van Dam, Terry and Myself against Abdullah the Butcher and the Original Sheik on the way to becoming three time Real World League Tag Team Champions.
I also will never forget All Japan Pro Wrestling’s 20th anniversary Six Man Tag Team main event as Giant Baba, Stan Hansen and Myself faced Jumbo Tsuruta, Terry Gordy and Andre the Giant in what would prove to be Andre the Giant’s last match.
Now comes the 35th anniversary of All Japan Pro Wrestling. Masanobu Fuchi, one of my students is the only wrestler who has been with the company from the beginning.
Osamu Nishimura originally trained by Hiro Matsuda and with the passing of Matsuda came to the Funking Conservatory and asked that I be his teacher will be my partner in many of the “Final Countdown” of the last ten of my career wrestling matches leading up to the final match at Sumo Hall.
My final wrestling match Saturday March 1st, 2008 will mark the end of 67 years of the name, Funk performing in the ring as a professional wrestler however for me March 1st 2008 will mark a “New Beginning” as Marti and I devote full time and facilities to the training of professional wrestlers who will be the stars of the future.
Next week there will be a press release naming a !BANG! TV Star from the Funking Conservatory who will be wrestling for All Japan Pro Wrestling, starting with the next tour in Japan which begins at Korakuen Hall on February 17,2008.
The next taping of !BANG! TV comes to the Funking Conservatory this Sunday January 27th. Showtime is 7:00pm and the doors open at 6:00pm.
Tickets to our show, training schedules and information and information on the upcoming tour of Japan are available on our website at www.dory-funk.com or you may call 352-895-4658.
Dory Funk Jr. – Coach of the Funking Conservatory Wrestling School