Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Remembering the Crazy Koloff/Valiant Feud

by Andy McDaniel
Special to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Hearing the news of the passing of Ivan Koloff was sad. Ivan was one of those characters from the wrestling world that was always believable. The memories are far too many to record in one writing. The phenomenal electricity/anger he could muster from a crowd by just entering the arena is something that cannot be taught. Ivan was truly a natural.

Just as powerful of a character as Ivan Koloff was, those he feuded with equally made the matches something special. Today, while reflecting, I remember the truly special times Ivan shared with the one and only “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, another “one of a kind” talent in his own right. The feud was red-hot that year and the local promos for the upcoming matches were always a favorite time of mine during the weekly broadcast. (I sure do miss those.)

The show was coming to Sumter, SC. The hook for me was the New York City street fight between The Russian Bear and the Boogie Man. It was must-see for me. The promos back then, were ones that sold tickets. Ivan promised to hand a very clear defeat to Jimmy, but the Boogie Man had a different kind of promise. He told everyone that he was going to strip “the Bear” naked. I can still hear it right now.  “Wooo! Mercy daddy, I’m gonna strip ya naked, like the day you was born, yeah!”

So, not only did the Boogie man promise a good old fashion whipping, he promised to embarrass the Russian villain for all he had done and his terrible attitude toward America. No one expected a classic Lou Thesz-style match that day. Instead, everyone came to watch a fight and I can tell you -- they both delivered.

There were fists, chains, chairs, blood and chaos as both had promised to bring that day, but there was also the other promise Jimmy Valiant had made: stripping Ivan naked. Little by little as the match proceeded, Jimmy began to tear off the clothes of the Russian Bear until he was down to his wrestling singlet. The crowd was cheering every moment. The back and forth match seemed to be going Ivan’s way, but the Boogie Man brought out his trusty chain (hiding in his boot) and got the knockout punch on Ivan for the 1-2-3.

The cheers were deafening, but the promise to strip the bear “bare naked” had not been completed, so as Ivan was still reeling from the effects of the chain, Jimmy, indeed grabbed Ivan’s tights and pulled them down. Instantly Ivan grabbed his crotch (covering himself) and dashed toward the dressing room, with his naked butt shining for all to see. It was a truly funny moment and being true to his word, the Boogie Man, sent the crowd home happy.

Later in life, I was blessed to be at a ministry event with Ivan. We shared some wonderful memories and our mutual love for the Lord. I reminded Ivan of this story with Jimmy and he laughed while saying “Oh, that Jimmy, there is only one.” Indeed, Jimmy is a unique character and Ivan certainly was too. These great characters from our childhood will live on forever in our memories. When we lose one, it is absolutely like losing an old friend.

Thanks for the memories, Ivan, you will be missed. Until we meet again in Heaven.