[“The men despise me, they hate me, and I can readily understand why. They hate to see a man in that ring that is ten times better at anything that they do … regardless of what is, the art of making love, anything.” – Classy Freddie Blassie, 1918-2003.]
The above is fall two of Fred Blassie’s March 1962 title bout with Rikidozan, officiated by Johnny “Red Shoes” Duggan and called by KTLA’s inimitable Dick Lane. This is prime West Coast Blassie when the Classy one was the promotion’s star, most hated heel, and champion (including his then trademark biting, with teeth sharpened Ty Cobb-style on a steel file). You can check out the first fall here, and feel the hate and heat Blassie could draw from a hometown LA crowd against a Japanese champ. A Happy birthday goes out to the greatest all-around everything in wrestling: champion, heel, manager, and my favorite interview ever “he woulda been 92 today. You can check out his interview style here (going shoot on Hogan), interviewed as LA champ here, his managerial finesse on display in the Piper’s Pit with Kamala the Ugandan Giant here, managing and promoting Muhammed Ali on The Tonight Show, discussing his $40,000 bathroom and smashing Iron Shiek action figures with Regis Philbin (as Philbin dares slug the Sheik), a guest shot on The Dick Van Dyke Show, or the above 1962 championship bout from one of his greatest feuds, with Rikidozan. Years later, when Rikidozan was dead (reportedly killed by yakuza gangsters), a Japanese film crew interviewed Blassie in his last years, still working for Vince McMahon. When asked how he recalled Rikidozan, Blassie swore he wasn’t through with the dead man yet and would wrestle him in Hell. The cartoonist Drew Friedman once printed up an insulting postcard of Mr. Blassie. He received a copy of said card in the mail addressed to “Pencil Neck Drew Friedman” with the note … “Keep looking over your shoulder. I’ll tear your heart out through your knee cap. As Ever, Fred Blassie.” Here’s to you, Freddie.