Dr. Jerry Graham
Dr. Jerry Graham.jpg
Birth nameJerry Martin Matthews
Born(1928-12-16)December 16, 1928
Woodward, Oklahoma, US
DiedJanuary 24, 1997(1997-01-24) (aged 68)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Dr. Jerry Graham
Jerry Graham
Dr. Zombie[1]
Billed height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)[2]
Billed weight245 lb (111 kg)[2]
Trained bySelf-trained at the YMCA
Debut1947[3]
Retired1981

Jerry Martin Graham (born Jerry Martin Matthews,[4] December 16, 1928 – January 24, 1997) was an American professional wrestler. He is best known for his time spent in the World Wide Wrestling Federation and as the founder of the Graham wrestling family.

Professional wrestling career

Graham began wrestling at the age of 14 in his hometown of Phoenix.[1] He was the founder of the storyline Graham wrestling family,[1] which included Eddie Graham (Edward Gossett), "Crazy" Luke Graham (James Grady Johnson), "Superstar" Billy Graham (Wayne Coleman), Mike Graham (Mike Gossett), Jerry Graham Jr., Crazy Luke Graham Jr. and Mad Dog Steele Graham (Tom Hankins). Along with Eddie, Jerry sold out Madison Square Garden many times in the 1950s and late 1960s, when they were known as The Golden Grahams. After his tag team success, Dr. Graham brought "Crazy" Luke Graham and "Superstar" Billy Graham into the Graham family.[5][6]

Graham feuded with Buddy Rogers in 1956.[7] On November 19, 1957, Graham and Dick the Bruiser wrestled Argentina Rocca and Edouard Carpentier at Madison Square Garden.[1] During the match, a major riot exploded and many fans were arrested, with eight police officers being injured from chairs that were thrown by fans.[1] All of the wrestlers during the match were fined, and Dick the Bruiser was banned for life from wrestling in New York.[1]

When Graham wrestled Bruno Sammartino for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF)'s World Heavyweight Championship, Madison Square Garden was so packed that more than 10,000 fans were turned away.[1] He held the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship six times, including several reigns with Eddie Graham, one with "brother" Crazy Luke Graham, and one with Johnny Valentine. Graham spent the 1970s training other wrestlers and occasionally wrestling himself.[8]

In 2009, Graham was inducted into the Georgia Wrestling History Hall of Fame.[9] On March 31, 2017, Graham was posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a part of the Legacy wing.[2]

Personal life

Graham was adopted by his stepfather Harold Graham and his name was legally changed. He falsified his age to enlist in World War II, where he served with the 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers.[1] After the war, he attended Phoenix College and Arizona State University.[1]

Graham suffered from alcoholism and depression.[1] In August 1969, when his mother died, he grabbed a shotgun from the back of his car and took his mother's corpse out of Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix.[10] After the incident, he spent time in the Arizona State Mental Hospital.

In "Superstar" Billy Graham's book Tangled Ropes, he speaks about the real life hatred that Graham had for Freddie Blassie.[10]

Graham died on January 24, 1997 at age of 68 due to complications from a stroke six weeks earlier.[1]

Championships and accomplishments

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Mooneyham, Mike (February 9, 1997). "Dr. Jerry Graham Tortured Soul". The Wrestling Gospel. Archived from the original on November 13, 2008. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Dr. Jerry Graham". WWE. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  3. ^ Solomon, Brian (2010). WWE Legends. Simon and Schuster. p. 176. ISBN 978-1451604504.
  4. ^ "Jerry Graham - OWW". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2021-08-04.
  5. ^ Wirtz, Billy C. (2012-09-01). Red Headed Geek. Tickling Keys, Inc. ISBN 978-1-61547-014-3.
  6. ^ Oliver, Greg; Johnson, Steven (2019-08-06). The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Storytellers (From the Terrible Turk to Twitter). ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-77305-421-6.
  7. ^ III, Harris M. Lentz (2015-09-15). Biographical Dictionary of Professional Wrestling, 2d ed. McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-0505-0.
  8. ^ Kaelberer, Angie Peterson (July 2003). The McMahons: Vince McMahon and Family. Capstone. ISBN 978-0-7368-2143-8.
  9. ^ "Georgia Wrestling History Hall of Fame". Georgia Wrestling History. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Graham, Billy (2010). WWE Legends – Superstar Billy Graham: Tangled Ropes. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1439121795.
  11. ^ "Congratulations to the 2017 WWE Hall of Fame Legacy inductees". WWE. March 31, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2017.