Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Gateway Museum: Blackjack Mulligan's Lone Star Hat

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

One of the most prized exhibits in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway museum is the Blackjack Mulligan tribute, which includes Mulligan's own Resistol cowboy hat with the famous Lone Star Beer / shotgun-shells hat band. It sits next to a cast replica of the U.S. title belt in the style that Mulligan wore in when holding the title on multiple occasions from 1976-1978. 

The hat was a special gift from Blackjack Mulligan himself, received on a visit to the "Headlock Ranch" (Florida annex!) back in the mid-2000s. It is a treasured possession, as you might imagine. According to Blackjack, there were only two of those hats with that particular hat band. The other was given to George South by Mulligan on that same visit to Mulligan's home.

The U.S. belt replica was crafted especially for the Gateway museum by Dave Millican. The plates were cast directly from the 1980-1982 version of the belt in cooperation with Sgt. Slaughter, who maintains possession of that 1980 belt to this day. (The original 1976 belt is apparently lost to time.) That 1980 belt was on black leather, but I asked Dave to create a red croc leather to make it resemble the 1976 version the Mulligan held. Dave absolutely nailed that leather, and the look of the belt. Both the original 1976 and 1980 belts were made by famous belt maker and wrestler Alex Mulko, better know by his working name Nikita Mulkovich.

Mulligan's hat sits on a Resistol display pedestal given to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway by Nelson Royal's widow Karen, who cleaned and re-shaped the hat for us at Nelson Royal's Western Store in Mooresville, NC. That was a special gift all on its own.

For more information on the United States Heavyweight Championship in Jim Crockett Promotions and the five belts that represented it from 1975-1988, check out the book in the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Book Store.