West Texas State: The Greatest Pro Wrestling University…EVER

Brian Damage

Football and pro wrestling go together like peanut butter and jelly. So many former football players have gone on to successful pro wrestling careers. They traded helmets for spandex with names like Dick the Bruiser, Ernie Ladd, Wahoo McDaniel, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Vader and Ron Simmons. Those are just a small few who transitioned from the grid iron to the squared circle. There is one place in particular, that has produced more football players to pro wrestlers than any other…a place located in Canyon, Texas.

The place was a university called West Texas State and it’s football program in particular, delivered some of the most legendary names in professional wrestling history. In fact, 14 former West Texas State alumni went on to have successful and for some, hall of fame careers in the wrestling business. If Robbinsdale High School in Minnesota was a hotbed for churning out professional wrestlers, West Texas State did the same, if not more on the college level. Here are the names of West Texas State alumni that graduated on to wrestling greatness.

Dory Funk Jr

Terry Funk

Dusty Rhodes

Dick Murdoch

Bobby Duncam Sr

Tully Blanchard

Kelly Kiniski

Stan Hansen

Bruiser Brody

Ted Dibiase

Scott Casey

Manny Fernandez

Tito Santana

Barry Windham

Now some may be wondering, how did all these men from West Texas State University turn to professional wrestling as their main occupation? For some, it was just a matter of being born into the business like Tully Blanchard, the Funk brothers, Barry Windham and Ted Dibiase. In the case of Dibiase, it wasn’t just genetics, but financial as well. Ted Dibiase decided to quit the team to wrestle full time. For no other reason than to make money. Tito Santana had a tryout with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs, and when that didn’t pan out played a bit in the Canadian Football League. After getting cut from his team, Santana reached out to some old friends on the team and they convinced him to give wrestling a shot.

While there were a few second generation wrestlers on the West Texas State Buffaloes roster that made the easy transition to their families wrestling business, it was also about location, location, location. In the 1960’s and 70’s, pro wrestling had a multitude of territories, with the state of Texas having several that were really successful. The Funks had Amarillo, Paul Boesch controlled Houston, Joe Blanchard had San Antonio, Fritz Von Erich had Dallas and The Guerreros had El Paso. Texas was indeed a hotbed for professional wrestling and it attracted many athletes from the state to try their hand at grappling.

Dory and Terry Funk were very particular to who they brought in and trained in their territory. Terry did admit that he gave special attention to West Texas State alums first and foremost. Stan Hansen saw the similarities between football and wrestling comparing the physicality of both and how you still had to get up even hurt and still play.

The picture above was the old Buffalo Bowl where all of those future wrestlers played their home games. It certainly looked like a perfect place to hold a wrestling show. The school itself, still exists, although it goes by another name…West Texas A & M University. The school may have a new name, but it still is steeped in great wrestling tradition.

4 thoughts on “West Texas State: The Greatest Pro Wrestling University…EVER

    • i know what you mean because i can’t believe that terry funk wasn’t always a crazy old bastard lol…he was actually a young man once lol


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