Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ric Flair Celebrates 35th Anniversary Winning the Ten Pounds of Gold

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

It's hard to get my arms around the fact that it has been 35 years since Ric Flair won his first NWA world championship.

September 17, 1981.

Ric Flair holds up the NWA title belt
after defeating Dusty Rhodes in Kansas City
It was a Thursday night on the west side of the Missouri River in the venerable old Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS. Many folks erroneously report the change as happening in Kansas City, MO, an easy mistake to make I guess.

Promoter Bob Geigel's Heartland of America promotion based out of Kansas City played host to the title change. Legendary former 6-time NWA world champion Lou Thesz served as special referee in the title match that featured reigning 2-time champion "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes defending the historic, majestic, almost mythical title belt known as the "ten pounds of gold."

NWA President Jim Crockett, Jr. of Jim Crockett Promotions was on hand for the title change, too.  Crockett promoted Flair's home territory known as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling out of Charlotte, NC, and was Flair's sponsor with the NWA board. Flair has often lamented the fact that his first NWA title victory was not in his home territory, or in a neutral location more familiar with him such as Atlanta.

Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS
Ric's parents were on hand to see him win the championship. It obviously meant a lot to him to have them there. If I'm not mistaken, I believe he has said it was the first time they ever saw him wrestle.

The belt itself meant a great deal to Ric. He has spoken and written before about the first time he saw it, around the waist of Jack Brisco. All of the guys he thought so much of during that era that held that title all wore that belt, from Brisco to Harley Race, to Terry Funk, and now on that night in Kansas City he stood across the ring from Dusty Rhodes knowing he would soon wear the fabled title belt, too.

When working on my book "Big Gold", Conrad Thompson and I sat with Ric at a local bar in Duluth, GA. Conrad asked Ric straight up, of the two NWA world title belts that he held - - the domed-globe and the "big gold" - - which belt he liked better. Ric admitted that the Big Gold belt was the fan's favorite and that it was no doubt the best looking belt ever made, but the belt that meant the most to him personally was the Ten Pounds of Gold. It was his first, and it had been held by the giants in the game at that time. Sentimentally, there was no choice.

Ric Flair went on to hold 16 world titles (more, if you count some unofficial wins), including the NWA, WCW, and WWF world titles. He is pretty much universally recognized as the greatest world champion of all time. And it all began 35 years ago today, September 17, 1981.