Dick the Bruiser
File:William Afflis.jpg
Birth nameWilliam Fritz Afflis
Born(1929-06-27)June 27, 1929
Delphi, Indiana, United States
DiedNovember 10, 1991(1991-11-10) (aged 62)[1]
Tampa, Florida, United States
Cause of deathInternal bleeding
Alma materPurdue University
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Afflis
Dick Bruiser
Dick the Bruiser
Richard Afflis
Billed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[2]
Billed weight261 lb (118 kg)[2]
Billed fromReno, Nevada[2]
Trained byVerne Gagne
Joe Pazandak

William Fritz Afflis (June 27, 1929 – November 10, 1991) was an American professional wrestler and football player, better known by his ring name, Dick the Bruiser.

Early life

Born in Delphi, Indiana, Afflis grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, graduating from Lafayette Jefferson High School where he played football and wrestled. Afflis went on to attend Purdue University, where he played varsity football.

American football career

Afflis played American football for the Green Bay Packers as a lineman in the early 1950s.[2]

Professional wrestling career

Afflis started his career in Chicago in 1955 under the Bruiser moniker where he faced Verne Gagne and Lou Thesz. From there into the late 1950s, Dick the Bruiser wrestled live every Thursday on TV in the Detroit area. His typical opponent was "an up and coming young (unknown) wrestler" who would be pulverized by the Bruiser. His matches and interviews were so effective he became a household name in the Detroit area. His only defeat on live TV was at the hands of Cowboy Bob Ellis. However, in two rematches with Ellis at the Olympia in Detroit, the Bruiser was victorious. A real bar fight with football player Alex Karras gained Afflis attention, which resulted in several more fights.

Afflis, along with fellow wrestler and business partner Wilbur Snyder, purchased the Indianapolis NWA promotion in 1964 from its longtime owner Jim Barnett. Afflis renamed the territory the World Wrestling Association (WWA) and promoted himself as its champion. While he ran it as an independent promotion with its own titles and champion, the WWA had a working agreement with the larger AWA (owned by wrestler Verne Gagne), sharing talent and recognizing their championships. This agreement benefited both promotions and led to the Bruiser having multiple AWA Tag-Team Title reigns, primarily with tag team partner, The Crusher, who was billed as his "cousin". The Bruiser was the first to christen Manager Bobby Heenan with the nickname of "The Weasel"[2] during his run in the territory. Afflis' WWA ran from 1964 until 1989, when Afflis finally tired of losing talent, TV, and fan attendance to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Afflis, with his charisma, NFL notoriety, and gravelly-voiced, tough-guy persona was a legitimate cross-media star, becoming something of a hero in the Indianapolis area. He made his home on the northwest side of the city. Indianapolis native David Letterman would later name his television show's band The World's Most Dangerous Band as a derivation of Dick the Bruiser's nickname, "The World's Most Dangerous Wrestler." The moniker "Dick the Bruiser" was even used in the 1980s by George Baier, a co-host of the morning drive show on Detroit rock radio station WRIF. Baier's "Richard T. Bruiser" was an effective, entertaining impersonation of Afflis, who actually played himself in a number of popular TV ads for WRIF.

After retiring, Afflis was a color commentator for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), founded by David McLane, who had previously risen through the ranks as a teenager to manage the WWA for The Bruiser. He also worked as a talent agent for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and was the special guest referee at the Starrcade 1990 main event between Sting and the Black Scorpion.


Afflis died of internal bleeding on November 10, 1991, according to a spokesman for Suncoast Hospital in Largo, Florida, near his winter home. His widow, Louise, said her husband had been weightlifting at home with his adopted son, Jon Carney, and ruptured a blood vessel in his esophagus. He was entombed at Washington Park North Cemetery in Indianapolis.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ "'Dick The Bruiser,' 62, Dies In Florida". Classic Wrestling Articles. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  3. ^ NWA United States Heavyweight Title (Hawaii version) history At wrestling-titles.com
  4. ^ American Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  5. ^ AWA World Heavyweight Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  6. ^ AWA World Tag Team Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  7. ^ World Heavyweight Title (Omaha) history At wrestling-titles.com
  8. ^ NWA United States Heavyweight Title (Chicago) history At wrestling-titles.com
  9. ^ NWA International Tag Team Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  10. ^ "Lawler, McMahon, Road Warriors among PWHF Class of 2011". Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum. 2010-11-26. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  11. ^ NWA Missouri Heavyweight Title history At wrestling-titles.com
  12. ^ WCW Hall of Fame Inductees At wrestling-titles.com
  13. ^ WWA World Heavyweight Title (Indianapolis) history At wrestling-titles.com
  14. ^ WWA World Tag Team Title (Indiana) history At wrestling-titles.com
  15. ^ WWA World Heavyweight Title (Los Angeles) history At wrestling-titles.com
  16. ^ World Heavyweight Title (Georgia) history At wrestling-titles.com