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No Holds Barred: Ox Baker

by Michael Buffalo Smith

One of my favorite wrestlers was always Ox Baker. I witnessed many a smack down at the hands of big Ox, the 6’5,” 342 pound Sedalia, Missouri export. Ox was born Douglas A. Baker on April 19,1934, and began his career in 1964 when he was approached by Kansas City promoters and was paid $300 for his first match. Following that night he went into training with Buddy "Killer" Austin, Pat O'Connor, and Bob Geigel.  A couple of years later he was off and running.

Watching him on the Saturday telecast of Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling was always awesome, but nothing compared to the live shows - er- matches at Greenville Memorial Auditorium during the seventies.

Ox’s signature finishing move was his powerful “heart punch.” According to record, over 8,000 men fell at the hand of the heart punch. I personally witnessed several of those bloody matches in the squared circle. One night, Ox wrapped up a 30 minute brawl with Jimmy "Super Fly" Snuka, grabbing Snuka as he dove from the corner ropes, spinning him around, and enacting the heart punch. I vaguely recall Ox emerging victorious over both big Ernie Ladd and Harley Race at Memorial Auditorium as well.

Ox Baker's Heart Punch made headlines in 1970, when he wrestled Alberto Torres. Baker hit Torres with the heart punch and Torres dropped and did not get back to his feet again. He was rushed to the hospital where he later died. It turned out that he had a ruptured pancreas, but didn't disclose it to the wrestling promoters before the match. Baker's heart punch was not the 100% cause of death. Then in 1975, Baker's special move made headlines again. This time Ox was battling Ray Gunkel in a Texas Death Match. Baker hit Gunkel with the heart punch and Gunkel was dead before he hit the floor. Incidents like these made Ox Baker a feared man in the ring.

Baker was also a multi-time Tag Team Champion.  He has teamed with pros like Ole Anderson and Scandor Akbar to capture Tag Team Championships in the NWA and NWF.  Baker teamed with Big John Stud (then known as Chuck O' Connor) to win the WWA Tag Team ttle in 1976. He also teamed with Superstar Billy Graham to hold the NWA Florida Tag Team title.  Baker would go on to heart punch his way through The Sheik to win the American Heavyweight title, he also won the World Class Championship and the World Class Texas title several times.

One of the most dramatic encounters I witnessed first hand came not at the hands of a fellow wrestler, but by way of an audience member. One night as Ox made his way to the ring, a rowdy elderly man lept from the audience with his lit cigar and lunged it into Baker’s chest. That had to hurt!

A menacing character who I always believed would have made an excellent Star Trek Klingon,  Ox has worked on television and appeared in half a dozen feature films, such as Jackie Chan's action film "The Big Brawl" and John Carpenter's 1981 film classic sci-fi cult hit "Escape From New York".

In 1988 Ox retired from Pro-Wrestling and in following years he opened "Ox Baker's Wrestling School"  becoming a well renowned trainer of future Stars and Champions such as the Russian Brute and the Night Stalker (later known as Atom Bomb). Now happily remarried with his wife Peggy Ann and living in the New England area where he continues to keep himself busy.  He has published a children's coloring book, recorded a music CD and always a fan favorite, continues to make public appearances at comic and sci-fi conventions and wrestling shows. Recently Ox published his very own cook book.


Pro Wrestling in the South Back in The Day

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