Buddy Austin
Birth nameAustin Wesley Rapes[1]
Born(1929-02-27)February 27, 1929[1]
Lovejoy, Georgia, United States
DiedAugust 12, 1981(1981-08-12) (aged 52)[1][2]
San Joaquin, California, United States[3]
Cause of deathMyocardial infarction[2]
Spouse(s)Carmelita Rogers[4]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Austin Rogers[3]
Buddy Austin[2]
Bulldog Austin[3]
Francis Gabor[2]
Frank Gabor[3]
Frankie Gabor[3]
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[1][2]
Billed weight240 lb (109 kg)[1][2]
Trained byRoy Graham[1]
RetiredMarch 30, 1977[2]

Austin Wesley Rogers (born Austin Wesley Rapes; February 27, 1929 – August 13, 1981) was an American professional wrestler, better known by the ring name "Killer" Buddy Austin.[1][2] He is best known for his appearances with the Los Angeles, California-based Worldwide Wrestling Associates promotion in the mid-1960s, where he held the WWA World Heavyweight Championship and the WWA World Tag Team Championship on three occasions each.

Early life

Rogers was born Austin Wesley Rapes in Lovejoy, Georgia. Prior to beginning his professional wrestling career, he served in the United States Navy.[5]

Professional wrestling career

Early career

Rogers was trained by Roy Graham, making his professional wrestling debut in 1956.[2][1] Early in his career, he wrestled under the ring name "Frankie Gabor", teaming with Johnny Gabor as "The Gabor Brothers". By the late-1950s, Rogers had adopted the ring name "Buddy Austin", nicknaming himself "The Golden Gladiator" in reference to his bleached blond hair.[6][7] During this time, he trained future NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race while working for Gust Karras in the Midwest.[8][9]

In 1961, Austin began wrestling for Heart of America Sports Attractions as "Bulldog Austin", briefly holding the NWA Central States Tag Team Championship. In mid-1961, he reverted to "Buddy Austin", and in June 1961 he was awarded the vacant NWA Central States Heavyweight Championship. He held the championship until November 1961, when he was defeated by Sonny Myers. Austin won the championship a second time that month, defeating Tarzan Tyler, His second reign lasted until February 1962, when he lost to Ray Gordon.[10][11]

Austin made his first tour of Japan with the Japan Wrestling Association in 1962, competing in the fourth annual World Big League. In June 1962, Austin and Mike Sharpe defeated Rikidōzan and Toyonobori to win the All Asia Tag Team Championship. They held the championship for slightly under a month before losing to Rikidōzan and Toyonobori in a rematch.[11]

In late-1962, Austin adopted the nickname "Killer" and was given credit for injuring Buddy Rogers, who had been involved in a car accident. He built the character of an "arrogant heel" and "ruthless rule-breaker".[1] In March 1963, Austin and Great Scott defeated Buddy Rogers and Johnny Barend for the NWA United States Tag Team Championship (northeast version). During their reign, the Capitol Wrestling Corporation withdrew from the NWA, and the championship was renamed the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship. In May 1963, Austin and Great Scott were defeated for the championship by Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy.[11] At this time, Austin was one of the major challengers to WWWF Champion Buddy Rogers.

Austin subsequently travelled to Ottawa, where later that month he won a tournament for the vacant Canadian Heavyweight Championship.[5][12][13]

Worldwide Wrestling Associates (1962–1969)

In 1962, Austin joined the Los Angeles, California-based Worldwide Wrestling Associates promotion, where he achieved his greatest success. In April 1966, he and El Mongol defeated Alberto Torres and Thunderbolt Patterson for the WWA World Tag Team Championship. They lost the championship to Luis Hernández and Pedro Morales in June 1966.[11]

Austin went on to compete for the WWA World Heavyweight Championship. His first reign began in August 1966 when he defeated Pedro Morales. He lost the championship to Bobo Brazil in September 1966, but regained it in a rematch two weeks later. His second reign ended in October 1966 when he was defeated by Lou Thesz. Austin won the championship for a third and final time in August 1967, defeating Iron Mike DiBiase. During his reign, he formed a tag team with Freddie Blassie, and the duo defeated Pedro Morales and Victor Rivera for the WWA World Tag Team Championship a second time in September 1967. In December 1967, Austin and Blassie were defeated by Morales and Antonio Pugliese, but they defeated them in a rematch later that month to regain the championship.[11]

Austin's third reign as WWA World Heavyweight Champion ended in January 1968 when he lost to Bobo Brazil, while his third reign as WWA World Tag Team Champion ended in May 1968 when he and Blassie lost to Los Medicos de Mexico.[11] Austin and Blassie subsequently began feuding, facing one another in a stretcher match that sold out the Grand Olympic Auditorium in November 1968.[14]

Later career

In May 1967, Austin won a 16-man tournament for the vacant NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship, defeating Paul DeMarco in the final. He held the championship until August 1967, when he lost to Buddy Moreno.[11]

In April 1969, Austin and Ripper Collins defeated Bobby Shane and Nick Bockwinkel for the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship. Their reign ended in August 1969 when they lost to Ed Francis and Pedro Morales.[11]

In December 1969, Austin and King Curtis Iaukea defeated Mario Milano and Spiros Arion for the IWA World Tag Team Championship, with their reign lasting until early 1970.[11]

In June 1971, Austin and Bob Orton defeated Archie Gouldie and Bob Geigel for the NWA North American Tag Team Championship. Their reign ended in August 1971 when they lost to Steve Bolus and Rufus R. Jones.[11]

Austin retired on March 30, 1977.[2]

Personal life

Born Wesley Austin Rapes, Rogers legally changed his name to Austin Wesley Rogers.[1]

Rogers was married to Carmelita, with whom he had several children.[4] In June 1968, Rogers' 15-month-old twin daughters drowned in the swimming pool of his home in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California.[15][16]

On January 1, 1969, Rogers was shot in the stomach and Pedro Morales was slashed with a broken bottle during an altercation at a party held in a penthouse in King's Cross, Sydney, Australia.[17] Rogers recovered, but bore a distinctive scar on his abdomen for the remainder of his life.

Rogers was a heavy drinker. In the mid-1960s, Freddie Blassie refused to continue teaming with Rogers due to his propensity to wrestle while inebriated.[8][14]


Rogers died on August 12, 1981, from a myocardial infarction.[2][1]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Tim Hornbaker (3 January 2017). Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. pp. 462–463. ISBN 978-1-61321-875-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Buddy Austin". Cagematch.de. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e H.K. Schwarz. ""Killer" Buddy Austin Biography". ProWrestlingHistoricalSociety.com. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  4. ^ a b John Hitchcock. "All Star Wrestling". TVParty.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Phil O'Reilly (May 29, 1963). "Weary Killer Buddy Austin Wins Canadian Mat Title". Ottawa Journal (via Newspapers.com). Ottawa, Ontario. p. 12. Retrieved March 4, 2017. Spattered with blood and barely able to maintain perpendicular position, an ex-Navy man from the U.S. won the vacant Canadian professional heavyweight wrestling championship Tuesday night at the Coliseum. Killer Buddy Austin, a man who give no quarter and expects none, was to say the least, a physically weary individual when promoter Howard Darwin stepped into the ring to present him with the championship belt and the key to a new Chrysler car...Ottawa has been a successful stop for Austin. Going into last night's tourney he has 11 straight wins here. Last night he won another four. And 90 per cent of the wins have come as a result or his deadly Indian death lock.
  6. ^ "Champion Holds On To Crown". Mansfield News Journal (via Newspapers.com). Mansfield, Ohio: Gannett Company. January 8, 1959. p. 36. Retrieved March 4, 2017. A Rogers-invented "figure four grapevine" forced Austin to 'give' in 14:20, and the Golden Gladiator was in so much pain he was unable to continue his bid for the title.
  7. ^ "Nichols Wins Pro Wrestle". Mansfield News Journal (via Newspapers.com). Mansfield, Ohio: Gannett Company. April 2, 1959. p. 26. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 4, 2017. Nichols used an octopus hold to stop Buddy Austin in 11:50 but the self-styled Golden Gladiator evened up things.
  8. ^ a b Harley Race; Gerry Tritz (January 2004). King of the Ring: The Harley Race Story. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 62. ISBN 978-1-58261-818-0.
  9. ^ Joe Miller (December 11, 2002). "Truth or Derek". The Riverfront Times. Retrieved March 4, 2017. Karras started young Harley on his county-fair circuit; they'd roam the back roads of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska, set up a ring and take on all comers...A few of Karras' top wrestlers – namely 'Killer' Buddy Austin and Ray Gordon – became Race's mentors.
  10. ^ a b Royal Duncan; Gary Will (2006). "Central States Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Buddy Austin – Titles". Cagematch.de. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  12. ^ a b "Austin, Brower Win Wrestling Features". Ottawa Journal (via Newspapers.com). Ottawa, Ontario. June 5, 1963. p. 13. Retrieved March 4, 2017. Killer Buddy Austin made his first defence of the Canadian heavyweight wrestling title.
  13. ^ a b "Canadian Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved March 4, 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Keith Elliot Greenberg; Freddie Blassie (15 June 2010). The Legends of Wrestling: "Classy" Freddie Blassie: Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-0426-9.
  15. ^ Shirley Camper Soman (1 December 2003). Let's Stop Destroying Our Children: Society's Most Pressing Problem Then and Now. iUniverse. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-595-28228-9.
  16. ^ "Buddy Austin's Twin Daughters Drown". Kokomo Tribune (via Newspapers.com). Kokomo, Indiana: Gannett Company. June 20, 1968. p. 3. Retrieved March 4, 2017. The twin daughters of heavyweight wrestler Buddy 'Killer' Austin drowned in the family swimming pool. The 15-month-old twins, Sandrina and Christina, were pulled from the pool Wednesday by their 11-year-old brother Kevin. Their mother, Carmelita, and a neighbor administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the back yard. Authorities said the infant girls apparently had left the house through an open sliding glass door and fallen into the pool while playing. Their father, whose real name is Austin Rogers, was not at home.
  17. ^ "Wrestler Shot, Gashed". The Herald. Melbourne. January 1, 1969. Two professional wrestlers who were due to clash on Friday night were seriously injured at a party in a luxury King's Cross penthouse early today. 'Matman' Buddy Austin, an American, was shot in the stomach with a .22 calibre rifle (sic) and Mexican Pedro Morales was gashed on the face with a broken beer bottle. Austin is in a serious condition in St. Vincent's hospital. Morales is satisfactory. More than 20 men and women were at the New Year party. Police said there was an argument. Police called to the penthouse found Morales slouched against a white marble-tile pillar in the foyer. Austin was stooped forward and clutching his stomach, near an inquiry desk. A trail of blood led from the penthouse to the lift and into the foyer.
  18. ^ *Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  19. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  20. ^ "NWA Southern Heavyweight Title (Florida)". Wrestling-Titles.com. March 12, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2017.