Don Kernodle
Birth nameCharles Donald Kernodle Jr.
Born(1950-05-02)May 2, 1950
Burlington, North Carolina, U.S.
DiedMay 17, 2021(2021-05-17) (aged 71)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Don Kernodle
Billed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[1]
Billed weight290 lb (130 kg)[1]
Trained byOle Anderson
Gene Anderson

Charles Donald Kernodle Jr. (May 2, 1950 – May 17, 2021) was an American professional wrestler with the National Wrestling Alliance's Jim Crockett Promotions.[2]

Professional wrestling career

In college, Kernodle lettered four times in amateur wrestling.[3] He was also a two time national arm wrestling champion.[3] After graduating from Elon College, Kernodle started wrestling in 1973 in the National Wrestling Alliance's Jim Crockett Promotions. He got his start by accepting a "shoot" wrestling challenge from Bob Roop. Although Roop defeated Kernodle by submission, Kernodle's skills impressed Ole Anderson and Gene Anderson who both offered to train Kernodle for free.[4]

Cobra Corps in Mid-Atlantic

At first, he (now known as Pvt. Kernodle) was part of Sgt. Slaughter's "Cobra Corps" and teamed with Slaughter and Pvt. Jim Nelson.[5][6] In 1982, the team of Kernodle and Nelson won the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship from Porkchop Cash and Jay Youngblood.[5][6] They later lost the title to Cash and King Parsons, from whom they also regained the title.[5][6] After Nelson was removed from the alliance, Kernodle became the tag partner of Sgt. Slaughter, with whom he held the NWA World Tag Team Championship in late 1982 and early 1983.[5] They lost the titles in a steel cage match vs. Rick Steamboat and Jay Youngblood on March 12, 1983.[5][6]

World Wrestling Federation

While teaming with Nelson, the duo wrestled on at least three cards co-promoted by the World Wrestling Federation in Maple Leaf Gardens in 1982, wrestling Steamboat and Youngblood at least twice, with Kernodle defeating Youngblood for the NWA Canadian Television Championship in a solo bout on August 8, 1982.[7]

Kernodle would continue to wrestle on co-promoted cards through May 23, 1983 when he made his Madison Square Garden debut for the WWF. Kernodle would wrestle in the WWF through November 1983, being primarily featured on television defeating the likes of Jeff Craney, Jack Carson, Bill Dixon, Steve King, and Tony Colon but falling short to Tito Santana and Rocky Johnson in single competition and The Invaders in tag team competition. Additionally, Kernodle was frequently used as a substitute for Afa Anoa'i in main event matches throughout 1983.[8] Kernodle's last bout in the WWF was on a co-promoted card in 1984 at Maple Leaf Gardens against Santana.[9]

Return to NWA

Following the title loss and brief stint in the WWF, Kernodle remained a villain and formed a tag team with Bob Orton, Jr. and was managed by Gary Hart.[5] He soon turned against America and formed a tag team with Ivan Koloff and won the NWA World Tag Team Title.[5] When Koloff's "nephew" Nikita Koloff arrived in late 1984, Kernodle helped to train him. Also in 1984, the Koloffs turned on Kernodle after he and Ivan lost the NWA World Tag Titles to Dusty Rhodes and Manny "The Raging Bull" Fernandez and started a feud.[5] Kernodle teamed with his brother Rocky to feud with the Koloffs and helped the Rock 'n' Roll Express to win the Tag Team Title from them at Starrcade '85: The Gathering.[5]

In 1986, Kernodle left the NWA and wrestled in various independent promotions in the Carolinas. He later became a Sergeant for Immigration Customs Enforcement for Alamance County.

Since 2002, Kernodle and his brother wrestled several times per year with CWF Mid-Atlantic near their home in Burlington, NC. He was a deputy sheriff with the Alamance County sheriffs office.

Other media

He appeared in the 1978 Sylvester Stallone movie Paradise Alley.[1]


Kernodle died on May 17, 2021, at the age of 71.[10] Kernodle had had several health issues prior to his death.[11][12] It was later revealed that Kernodle died after committing suicide by gunshot after visiting the doctor.[13]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2012). WWE Encyclopedia: Updated & Expanded. DK. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7566-9159-2.
  2. ^ "Pro wrestling was Don Kernodle's great love". Post and Courier.
  3. ^ a b c d e Don Kernodle Shoot Interview (DVD). Highspots.
  4. ^ "Don Kernodle interview". The Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cawthon, Graham (2013). the History of Professional Wrestling Vol 3:Jim Crockett and the NWA World Title 1983-1989. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1494803476.
  6. ^ a b c d Chappell, David and Dick Bourne (January 2003). "Jim Nelson interview". Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Gateway. Archived from the original on 2008-11-16. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
  7. ^ Graham Cawthon. "1982". The History of WWE. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  8. ^ Graham Cawthon. "1983". The History of WWE. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  9. ^ Graham Cawthon. "1983". The History of WWE. Retrieved 2020-12-31.
  10. ^ May 17, Thotless (2021-05-17). "Don Kernodle dead at age 71". Pro Wrestling Dot Net. Retrieved 2021-05-18.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "Former NWA And WWE Star Don Kernodle Passes Away". Wrestling Inc. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  12. ^ "Don Kernodle's Reported Cause Of Death, WWE Issues Statement On His Passing". Wrestling Inc. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  13. ^ "WWE Releases Statement on Passing of Don Kernodle, Update on Cause of Death". 411MANIA. Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  14. ^ Lee, Joseph (December 31, 2020). "Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame Finalizes 2021 Class: Mark Henry, Trish Stratus, More". 411Mania. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  15. ^ "PWI Years 500". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on 2011-05-15. Retrieved 2011-07-25.