Ernie Roth
Roth as "The Grand Wizard", 1982
Birth nameIrwin Roth
Born(1926-08-30)August 30, 1926[1][2]
Canton, Ohio, U.S.
DiedOctober 12, 1983(1983-10-12) (aged 57)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Cause of deathHeart Attack
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)The Grand Wizard of Wrestling
The Grand Wizard
J. Wellington Radcliffe
Mr. Clean
Abdullah Farouk
Armstrong K.
Billed height5 ft 7 in (170 cm)[3]
Billed weight130 lb (59 kg)[1]
Billed fromFort Lauderdale, Florida[3]

Irwin "Ernie" Jacob Roth (August 30, 1926 – October 12, 1983), known by the ring names The Grand Wizard of Wrestling and Abdullah Farouk, was an American professional wrestling manager. Not a wrestler himself due to his small stature, he was noted for his flamboyant outfit of sequined jackets, wraparound sunglasses, and a brightly colored turban decorated with jewels and feathers.[3] He was inducted into the WWE's Hall of Fame class of 1995.

Professional wrestling career

Abdullah Farouk (1958-1974)

Ernie Roth got his start in the entertainment business as a disc jockey.[3] He was discovered by Jim Barnett who helped Roth get into the wrestling industry.[4] He became involved in professional wrestling as a manager in the 1960s in Detroit-based territories.[3] Roth first worked under the names "Mr. Clean" and "J. Wellington Radcliffe."[5] He also portrayed "Abdullah Farouk", the heel (villainous) manager of The Sheik.[3] He frequently appeared on the Toronto and Detroit wrestling circuit, where local announcer Lord Athol Layton would usually refer to him as "The weasel, Abdullah Farouk".

Sporting a turban, Farouk took great pains in trying to control his madman protégé.[1] But he also carved a niche for himself as a deceitful, underhanded character who insulted US fans whenever he had a chance.[1] Farouk was a pioneer of "manager interference", as he physically would attempt to alter a match's outcome in the Sheik's favor.[3] This sort of interference was rare at the time.[2]

The Grand Wizard (1971-1983)

Roth began a stint with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in the 1970s, where he became known as The Grand Wizard.[3][6] Roth, who was Jewish,[2] reportedly took the name "The Grand Wizard" as a snub to the white supremacy organization the Ku Klux Klan, whose leaders were called Grand Wizard.[7]

Almost immediately after arrival in 1971, the Wizard managed Black Jack Mulligan and "Beautiful Bobby" Harmon. He later led Mr. Fuji and Prof. Toru Tanaka to two reigns with the WWWF World Tag Team Championship.[2] A year later, the Wizard led Stan Stasiak to victory over Pedro Morales for the WWF Championship in Philadelphia on December 1, 1973.[3][1] The Wizard guided a second protégé, Superstar Billy Graham, to the very same championship on April 30, 1977, when Graham overcame Bruno Sammartino in Baltimore.[3][1] On February 20, 1978, Bob Backlund dethroned Graham at Madison Square Garden. The Wizard made it his duty to gain revenge on Backlund, sending charges such as Don Muraco, Ken Patera and Greg Valentine after him.

The Grand Wizard in 1982

The Wizard managed the first Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson, and later Patera (who defeated Patterson for the title in April 1980 after the Wizard and Patterson parted ways) and Muraco to the same championship.[3] Other protégés of the Wizard included "Beautiful Bobby" Harmon,[8] Killer Kowalski,[9] "Crazy Luke" Graham, Sgt. Slaughter,[10] "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd,[11] Ox Baker, "Cowboy" Bob Orton[3] and The Masked Superstar.[12]

Other media

Roth on many occasions (when out of character and greasepaint mustache) co-hosted the syndicated Big Time Wrestling show with fellow announcer Bob Finnegan until 1969 when the hosting duties went to Lord Athol Layton.

Personal life and death

Roth was revealed posthumously to be homosexual, although some claim they were aware of his sexual orientation during his lifetime.[13][14] He was the godfather of protégé Don Muraco's daughter. His parents were Evrum (Edward) Roth and Rizel (Rose) Stern.[15] According to the autobiography of former WWE referee and wrestler Dangerous Danny Davis, Roth was also in charge of helping get the ring to all shows. The position was eventually taken over by Davis himself after Roth's death.

On October 12, 1983, Roth died of a heart attack at his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home at the age of 57.[3][1] Later WWF manager The Wizard claimed to be in communion with Roth's spirit. In 1995, Roth was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 1995 by his friend and protégé Sgt. Slaughter.[3]

Awards and accomplishments

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Slagle, Steve. "The Grand Wizard". Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on January 25, 2018. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Solomon, Brian (June 15, 2010). WWE Legends. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781451604504 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "The Grand Wizard bio". WWE. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  4. ^ Horton, Aaron D. (March 2, 2018). Identity in Professional Wrestling: Essays on Nationality, Race and Gender. McFarland. ISBN 978-1-4766-6728-7.
  5. ^ " Message Board: Ernie Roth". Retrieved May 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Blassie, Fred; Greenberg, Keith Elliot (2003). "Classy" Freddie Blassie: Listen, You Pencil Neck Geeks. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6316-4.
  7. ^ Famous People Who Dropped Dead. Dorrance Publishing. ISBN 9781434942623 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ "Beautiful Bobby Harmon". Obsessed with Retrieved July 18, 2015.
  9. ^ DK (September 29, 2020). WWE Encyclopedia of Sports Entertainment New Edition. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-7440-3510-0.
  10. ^ Backlund, Bob; Miller, Robert H. (September 15, 2015). Backlund: From All-American Boy to Professional Wrestling's World Champion. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-61321-696-5.
  11. ^ "Ernie Ladd". WWE. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  12. ^ Edison, Mike (May 12, 2009). I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-86547-903-6.
  13. ^ McCoy, Heath (December 14, 2010). Pain and Passion: The History of Stampede Wrestling, Revised Edition. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55490-299-6.
  14. ^ Oliver, Greg (June 19, 2006). "Managers DVD frustrating but entertaining". Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2015.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  15. ^ "Jon-Roth - User Trees -".
  16. ^ "PWI Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Kappa Publishing Group. Archived from the original on January 21, 2016. Retrieved June 8, 2017.