|Born||January 21, 1925|
White Plains, New York, United States
|Died||March 13, 2007 (aged 82)|
White Plains, New York, United States
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Arnold Skaaland|
|Billed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Billed weight||240 lb (110 kg)|
White Plains, New York
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Arnold Skaaland (January 21, 1925 – March 13, 2007) was an American professional wrestler and professional wrestling manager.
Following a stint in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, Skaaland began wrestling in 1946 under his real name. Given the nickname “Golden Boy,” he became a part of the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1963, and in 1967, won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship with Spiros Arion.
In 1978, Skaaland retired from in-ring competition and transitioned into a manager; unlike normal managers, he managed faces instead of heels. Skaaland's most notable clients include Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund. He later became a road agent for the WWF once he stopped managing, and was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1994.
Skaaland served in the U.S. Marines during World War II. After a short-lived attempt to make a living through boxing, he decided to become a professional wrestler.
Skaaland debuted in 1946 as "Arnold Skaaland". Though competing under his real name, he was billed early in his career as hailing from Norway. Performing throughout the northeastern United States, Skaaland gained the nickname "The Golden Boy" and was known as a small, agile wrestler who relied on speed, wits, and toughness in the ring rather than size and strength. In the late 1950s, he wrestled in Georgia under the ring name Bobby Weaver.
In the early 1960s, Skaaland unsuccessfully challenged both Pat O'Connor and "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In 1962, he refereed a high-profile match between Freddie Blassie and Rikidōzan in Japan.
In 1963, Skaaland was a part of the newly created, New York City-based World Wide Wrestling Federation. On June 1, 1967, he collected his only title as one half of the WWWF United States Tag Team Champions, when Tony Parisi gave his half of the title to Skaaland. Skaaland and his partner, Spiros Arion, soon lost the titles to The Sicilians (Lou Albano and Tony Altimore) on July 10, 1967, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Arion and Bruno Sammartino rewon the belts two weeks later, and retired them. In addition to wrestling, Skaaland was a shareholder of the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, the parent company of the WWWF, and a business partner of WWWF Chairman Vince McMahon Sr. Skaaland was responsible for producing WWWF shows in the Westchester County Center in Westchester County, New York, and serving as an agent for André the Giant.
Skaaland managed Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund, with both men winning the WWF World Heavyweight Championship under his tutelage. In 1978, Skaaland retired from regular wrestling, though he occasionally appeared as a late substitute for wrestlers that couldn't make a show. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named Skaaland Manager of the Year for 1978 and 1979. Backlund's lengthy reign ended on December 26, 1983, when Skaaland threw in the towel while Backlund was trapped in the camel clutch, the finishing move of challenger The Iron Sheik. It was also rumored that Backlund begged authorities for a rematch.
Skaaland appeared in the 1987 music video for the title track from Piledriver - The Wrestling Album 2, "Piledriver" by Koko B. Ware as the foreman of a construction site. In 1994, he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame class of 1994 for managing both Sammartino and Backlund to the (W)WWF World Heavyweight Championship. He appeared on WWF television later that year, with Backlund attacking him in order to consolidate his heel turn.
Skaaland was married to Betty Skaaland. He had three sons from her: Edward Patrick Skaaland, James Allen Skaaland, and George Skaaland (the latter of whom briefly competed as a wrestler in his own right in the mid-1980s). It was said that Skaaland was the only guy who could somewhat keep up with Andre the Giant when it came to drinking.
Skaaland died on March 13, 2007, with his wife Betty Skaaland by his side, and had been sick for some time. He is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.