Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back in the Day #2 -- Pin Me

He didn't look like a professional athlete.

His hair was thinning and combed over his mostly bald head. His face was round. His gelatinous belly even rounder.

When he came running outside to yell at us, his stark white belly contrasted with the dark brown skin of his arms.

Not once did I ever see him wearing a shirt.

Not when he left the comfort of his recliner to scream Spanish obscenities at us. Not back in day when I saw him wrestle down at the Sportatorium.

At various times he wrestled under the names of El Diablo, El Toro and The Zebra Kid, when away from Amarillo, but here, in his hometown, he always went by his real name ... Alex Perez.

Before he retired, Alex was a bad guy, a heel when he fought the Von Erichs on television. But all those matches took place in Dallas. In Amarillo he wrestled as a good guy. Back in the 40's he'd been a Golden Gloves champion and a professional baseball player.

To me and my group of friends he was the most interesting guy in the neighborhood. When bored we'd hunt up a bunch of dirt clods and head over to his house.Not caring that he was retired. Not caring that at best he was a card filler. A supporting actor there to prime the audience for the big name wrestlers. Guys like Mike Dibiase Terry Funk, and Harley Race.

Not when we tormented him, but we were enamored by him just the same.


Enamored by this former pro wrestler, me and my buddies would throw the dirt clods at his house until he got mad enough to come out side and chase us away.

We'd  point and say, "Look there he is!" as we took off running.

Looking back now I see how stupid we were. No doubt Mr. Perez would have enjoyed talking to us, telling stories had we simply knocked on his door and said we were fans. Instead we antagonized the man simply to get a glimpse of him.

I Google searched his name and discovered that he died of Parkinson's back in 2001 at the age of 71. That means he was in his 50s back when we were tormenting him. Funny .... he seemed much older to us.

I am amazed, but I found an old video of one of his matches. The commentary is in Spanish. I hope Mr. Perez is up in the big ring int he sky wearing a championship belt and getting to enjoy the time is his recliner without crazy kids tossing rocks at his house.




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7 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Hum, you figure you're bunch needed a bit of an ass whoopin' for throwing those rocks?

the walking man said...

That wrestling was a hard knock life harder than most. Low pay, brutal athleticism with no pads, no national fame until the McMahon's turned it into entertainment.

I bet that old man could have chucked those clods back at your running behinds and hit them as well as you could the broadside of his house.

Kids. I think your generation was the last of the true free roamers. enjoy the memories travis.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

You @#$%!! kids! Get off my lawn!

Barrie said...

Since I'm posting about veiled chameleons, I think I can most definitely squint and lean my head to the side for your post. ;) Oh, and I must say, you guys really got up to some stuff as kids! ;)

WordVixen said...

My supervisor when I worked in customer service was a former pro wrestler. He was in ECW back in the day as Dr. Mesmer, and was friends with Terry Funk (Mr. Funk used to stay at my boss's house when coming through town). At the time I was hugely into WWF, so this was extremely cool to me, and he once gave me a old school ECW hat that he'd found in his closet, and lent me a video tape of one of his wrestling matches. So friggin cool! :-) He had it give it up for back injuries, but it always struck me as funny that a former pro wrestler was heading up a customer service department... and listened to Spice Girls.

Donna Weaver said...

That was beautiful! I remember the day (I'd just turned 40), when I looked back at my grandmother who moved in with us when I was 14 and my mother died. It took be 26 years to look at and appreciate the sacrifice she made to move from her home and her friends and help her son raise his two daughters (one a self-centered teen). I'm only glad she was still alive when I had my epiphany, so I could thank her...and apologize for having taken a quarter of a century to get a brain and a little appreciation.

David Cranmer said...

Good post, Travis.

And I second Mr. Gramlich's thoughts.