Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Crockett Lieutenants - Notes from a Conversation with John Ringley

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

I was looking through some notes that I had made during a casual conversation I had with John Ringley back in 2016. There were some tidbits about some of the Crockett lieutenants and local promoters that I had not included in earlier posts resulting from those conversations. I thought I would tie up those loose ends now.

We talked about some of the key people working for Crockett when Ringley was with the company. These notes are taken from Ringley's reflections back on those days:

Leo Voss 
A referee and a good lieutenant for Crockett. He would go on the road and handle a lot of local spot towns (gate receipts, etc.) From Oklahoma, a big fisherman.

George Harbin
An ex-wrestler, who ran Lexington and did ring announcing there and Charlotte TV. Did lots of small things for JCP. An important lieutenant.

Wally Dusek
Ex wrestler, perhaps the most important lieutenant of all. Crockett trusted him completely. Like Voss, would handle gate receipts, and also receipts from outlet ticket sales (for example The Hat Shop in Charlotte.) Built rings, delivered them to arenas, with his crew set them up, tore them down. Was also an agent.

There were two other guys Ringley relied heavily on - -  Rip Hawk and Swede Hanson, whom Ringley said were also his close personal friends.

Then there was a discussion we had of the local promoters Crockett partnered with. These weren't technically Crockett's lieutenants, and they were also independent. I would give them a higher rank like captain or major. But they were the guys on the ground that made things work outside of Charlotte.

The local promoters were:
Joe Murnick - Raleigh, Richmond, Norfolk (and surrounding towns)
Pete Apostolou - Roanoke, Salem, Lynchburg (and surrounding towns)
Henry Marcus - Charleston, Columbia (and surrounding towns)
Paul Winkhaus - Greenville, Asheville (and surrounding towns)
Mr. Ringley told me these local guys were all independent operators, considered business partners to Jim Crockett Promotions, who originally booked talent from Jim Crockett for their towns but then later were basically just sent talent from the office. As these guys retired or died, they were replaced by “agents” (for example Sandy Scott, Danny Miller, and Wally Dusek.) Of all the local promoters, Ringley said Paul Winkhaus was his favorite.

Another little tidbit we discussed was related to my work on studio wrestling history for JCP, specifically the early TV tapings that took place at WFBC in Greenville, SC. in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ringley remembered announcer Bob Poole, but oddly did not remember Bill Krieger. But the main voice he remembered was that of Billy Powell, who not only did local wrestling promos and ring announcing for Greenville for decades, but also did all the voice overs for radio and TV spots for the concert and other entertainment events Ringley and Jim Crockett promoted. He called Billy Powell "the voice of Ringely and Crockett Promotions." This was the name of the separate company incorporated in 1970 that promoted all non-wrestling events for the Crockett promotional empire, which include concerts, Globe Trotters basketball, etc. Jim Crockett Promotions, Inc. was still the company that handled everything wrestling.

Ringley also made these comments regarding his ex-wife Frances Crockett, unsolicited:
"I thought a lot of Frances, I still do. She had the best business mind by far of any of the children. She proved it with baseball. She loved baseball. When I met her, she had baseball posters in her bedroom."
Again, my many thanks to Mr. John Ringley for taking the time to talk with me back in 2016. I'm happy to tie up these "loose ends" from those conversations.