June 19, 1938
Bernice, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||April 18, 2002 (aged 63)|
Houston, Texas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Monta Rae (divorced)|
Karen Reeves (divorced)
|Ring name(s)||Wahoo McDaniel|
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Billed weight||265 lb (120 kg)|
|Billed from||Midland, Texas|
|Trained by||Dory Funk Sr.|
|No. 62, 54|
|Position:||Linebacker / Guard|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||235 lb (107 kg)|
|AFL Draft:||1960 / Round: 2|
Pick: First Selections
(by the Los Angeles Chargers)
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
Edward McDaniel (June 19, 1938 – April 18, 2002) was an American Choctaw-Chickasaw professional American football player and professional wrestler better known by his ring name Wahoo McDaniel. He is notable for having held the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship five times. McDaniel was a major star in the American Wrestling Association and prominent National Wrestling Alliance affiliated promotions such as Championship Wrestling from Florida, Georgia Championship Wrestling, NWA Big Time Wrestling and, most notably, Jim Crockett Promotions.
McDaniel is often compared to his contemporary, Chief Jay Strongbow, due to both portraying similar Native American gimmicks. Unlike Strongbow (who was Italian-American), McDaniel was legitimately Native American.
McDaniel was born in the small town of Bernice, Oklahoma in 1938. His father worked in oil and he moved to several towns before settling down in Midland, Texas while McDaniel was in middle school. One of his baseball coaches was George H. W. Bush. The name "Wahoo" actually came from his father, who was known as "Big Wahoo". He was a problematic teenager but he was accepted to the University of Oklahoma. There he became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and he was also a part of Bud Wilkinson's Sooners football program.
McDaniel began his career as a professional football player in 1960, playing for the Houston Oilers during their inaugural AFL Championship-winning season. He then played for the Denver Broncos between 1961 and 1963. After he started playing as a linebacker for the New York Jets in 1964, McDaniel started wearing a custom jersey which had the name "Wahoo" sewn on the back above jersey 54. Whenever he made a tackle as a Jet, the public address announcer would ask the crowd WHO made that tackle, and the crowd would shout, "Wahoo! Wahoo! Wahoo!" After two seasons with the Jets, McDaniel went to the Miami Dolphins in 1966, and played with this team until his retirement after the 1968 season. Throughout much his career as a football linebacker and guard, however, McDaniel was also active in the sport of professional wrestling.
While he was with the Houston Oilers, McDaniel had also trained with NWA Amarillo wrestling promoter Dory Funk Sr. and became a professional wrestler by the time he was traded to the Denver Broncos in 1961. After he was traded to the New York Jets in 1964, McDaniel began wrestling for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). In January 1965, McDaniel wrestled for the first time in New York City's famous Madison Square Garden, defeating Boris Malenko. After he was traded to the Miami Dolphins in 1966, McDaniel began wrestling for Eddie Graham's Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF). When his football career ended in 1969, McDaniel became a full-time wrestler. In his first year as a full-time wrestler, McDaniel became involved in NWA Texas and won the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship.
While wrestling in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), McDaniel engaged in a feud with Superstar Billy Graham. Along with Johnny Valentine, Superstar Billy Graham was regarded as one of McDaniel's earliest and bitter rivals. Between 1973 and 1974, McDaniel And Superstar would engage in numerous wrestling bouts in what was considered one of the AWA's top-drawing feuds of the 1970s. Some of these bouts included Indian Strap Matches and also tag team matches which pitted McDaniel and The Crusher against Superstar and Ivan Koloff. In 1974, McDaniel came to Mid-Atlantic to wrestle for Jim Crockett Promotions and help build up the territory as a singles territory in a feud with a rival from Texas, Johnny Valentine. The feud evolved into a tag feud with McDaniel and Paul Jones taking on Valentine and Ric Flair, who McDaniel met in the AWA.
McDaniel and Valentine went on to have a feud remembered to this day for the sheer force of their punch/chop exchanges, both men widely known for their hard-hitting style. McDaniel won the Mid-Atlantic title from Valentine on June 29, 1975, in Asheville, North Carolina.
In 1977, Johnny Valentine's son Greg Valentine attacked McDaniel and broke his leg in an angle to establish Greg as Johnny's successor. Valentine originally won the title on June 11, 1977, with McDaniel regaining it in Raleigh, North Carolina two months later. On September 7, 1977, Valentine regained the title at the WRAL-TV studio tapings, breaking McDaniel's leg in the process. This angle is particularly remembered for a follow-up interview weeks later with Flair and Valentine throwing change at McDaniel, and Valentine asking him if he needed a custom-made wheelchair for his fat body. Valentine then infuriated fans (thus building up the demand for a rematch) by parading around in T-shirts which read "I Broke Wahoo's Leg" and "No More Wahoo."
Wahoo was respected by other wrestlers and football players for his toughness, physical style and his crazy antics outside of the ring. The respect as a legitimate athlete made it easy for him to go to different territories and be successful when many babyfaces had trouble doing so. Joe Namath and Larry Csonka, who played with him early in their careers, wrote stories about him in their autobiographies. Along that same line, Len Dawson has been quoted as saying: "The hardest hit I ever received on a football field was by Wahoo McDaniel."
He would stay with the American Wrestling Association until it closed its doors in 1991. McDaniel also worked in for World Championship Wrestling's Slamboree 1993: A Legends' Reunion and Slamboree (1995). After WCW, he worked in independent shows until retiring in 1996. His last match was teaming with Ricky McDaniel, his son (kayfabe) defeating Jake Mulligan and Desperado #1 in Clinton, South Carolina on July 4, 1996 for Southern Championship Wrestling.
In 2019, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
McDaniel was married five times to four different women. With his first wife, Monta Rae, he had two daughters, Nikki, born in June 1963 and living in Houston and Cindi, born in October 1965 and living in Rowlett, Texas. He has four grandchildren, Dustin and Brittany through Nikki and twins, Morgan and Taylor, through Cindi. He also had a son, Zac, from a later marriage to Karen Reeves.
Wahoo was an avid golfer. Lee Trevino told a story of when Wahoo McDaniel was playing for a lot of money against Evel Knievel, and how Wahoo was an excellent wedge player and would make deeper grooves on his wedge for more control on his shots 
McDaniel's health started to deteriorate in the mid-1990s, which led to his retirement in 1996, and he eventually lost both kidneys. He was awaiting a kidney transplant when he died of complications from diabetes and kidney failure on April 18, 2002.
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