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By Jim Ross

It is another sad day to awaken but thank God that I did unlike my my friend Nick Bockwinkel who passed away Sunday at the age of 80. Nick had been ill for a few years now and is condition was getting progressively worse for the all time great who was living in Las Vegas.

Nick’s father Warren Bockwinkel was a top pro wrestler and legend has it that Nick was trained by his Dad and Lou Thesz and that Nick had his first official pro match versus   hesz when Nick was only 16 years of age. Nice way to break in, huh, with a family friend, essentially a God Father who also just happened to be the best in the world in his profession.

Nick and his often times manager and close friend Bobby Heenan were an amazing duo. Any wannabe wrestler who doesn’t study the crowd psychology of these two artisans really don’t want to become great pros but only want talk a good game. For any one to think that what men like Bockwinkel and Heenan did is now obsolete is being absurdly foolish.

Bobby also called, with tongue in cheek, the articulate, meticulously dressed, classy Bockwinkel, “Jim Barnett on steroids.” First of all Nick was not a steroid guy but a legit athlete and had been one his entire life including playing college football for my Sooners in the 50’s for the legendary coach Bud Wilkinson who was building a Sooner dynasty that included 47 straight wins during the mid 1950’s. After Nick injured his knee and had to withdraw from school and when he found himself healthy he turned to the family business and become a pro wrestler of which he had a 30+ year largely main event career and even when he retired in his early 50’s he was still better than the vast majority of his younger peers.

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