Wahoo McDaniel
McDaniel, circa 1979
Born
Edward McDaniel

(1938-06-19)June 19, 1938
DiedApril 18, 2002(2002-04-18) (aged 63)
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
SpouseMonta Rae (divorced)
Children2
Ring name(s)Wahoo McDaniel
Billed height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)[1]
Billed weight265 lb (120 kg)[1]
Billed fromMidland, Texas, U.S.
Trained byDory Funk
Debut1961
Retired1996

American football career
No. 62, 54
Position:Linebacker / Guard
Personal information
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school:Midland
College:Oklahoma
AFL Draft:1960 / Round: 2
Pick: First Selections
(by the Los Angeles Chargers)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Edward Hugh McDaniel[2] (June 19, 1938 – April 18, 2002) was an American Choctaw-Chickasaw[3] 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.[4]

Early life

McDaniel was born in the small town of Bernice, Louisiana, 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.[4] He attended Midland High School, where he was a track state champion in the shot put and second in the state in the discus.[5] One of his baseball coaches, particularly for his Pony League team, was George H. W. Bush.[2][5][6] The name "Wahoo" actually came from his father Hugh, who was known as "Big Wahoo".[6][4] Though he was a problematic teenager, he was accepted to the University of Oklahoma by Bud Wilkinson.[2] He became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and was also a part of Wilkinson's Sooners football program, where he holds the record for the longest punt at 91 yards.[4]

Professional football career

McDaniel began his career as a professional football player in 1960 in the American Football League (AFL), playing for the Houston Oilers during their inaugural AFL Championship-winning season.[4][7] He then played for the Denver Broncos between 1961 and 1963.[2][7] 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, and whenever he made a tackle as a Jet, the public address announcer would ask the crowd WHO made that tackle, in which the crowd would shout, "Wahoo! Wahoo! Wahoo!"[4][3][8] After two seasons with the Jets, McDaniel went to the Miami Dolphins in 1966,[2] and played with this team until his retirement after the 1968 season.[4][7][9]

Professional wrestling career

While with the Houston Oilers, McDaniel also trained with NWA Amarillo wrestling promoter Dory Funk Sr. and became a professional wrestler as a way to supplement his income[9] by the time he was traded to the Denver Broncos in 1961.[2][3] After he was traded to the New York Jets in 1964,[10] McDaniel began wrestling for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). The promoter wanted him to play off his Native American heritage, thus he was given the moniker "Chief" Wahoo McDaniel.[2][9] 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, McDaniel became involved in NWA Texas and won the NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship.[11]

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.[6][11] 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.[11] The feud evolved into a tag feud with McDaniel and Paul Jones taking on Valentine and Ric Flair, who McDaniel met in the AWA.[11][2]

McDaniel and Valentine had a historical feud remembered for the sheer force of their punch/chop exchanges, both men widely known for their hard-hitting style.[8][12] On June 29, 1975, McDaniel won the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship by defeating Valentine.[13] In 1977, Johnny Valentine's son Greg Valentine attacked McDaniel and broke his leg in an angle to establish Greg as Johnny's successor.[11] Valentine originally won the title on June 11, 1977, with McDaniel regaining it two months later.[13] 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.[2] 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."[11]

McDaniel also worked for World Championship Wrestling's Slamboree 1993: A Legends' Reunion pay-per-view on May 23, 1993, where he teamed with Blackjack Mulligan and Jim Brunzell and fought Dick Murdoch, Don Muraco and Jimmy Snuka to a no-contest.[14] At Slamboree on May 23, 1995, he defeated Murdoch.[15] He also worked in independent shows until retiring in 1996.[11][6]

Personal life

McDaniel was married four times to three different women.[6] 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 Azle, Texas.[3][4] He has four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren from Dustin (Vayda and Bo Wayne) and Brittany through Nikki and twins, Morgan and Taylor, through Cindi.[10] He was also an avid golfer and hunter.[2][6][9]

McDaniel's health started to deteriorate in the mid-1990s,[6] which led to his retirement in 1996, and he eventually lost both kidneys in 2000.[10] He was awaiting a kidney transplant[9] when he suffered a stroke and died of complications from diabetes and kidney failure on April 18, 2002, in Houston, Texas.[4][5] His body was cremated and his ashes are with his daughter Nikki in Houston, Texas.[2]

Championships and accomplishments

Wahoo McDaniel c. 1973

See also

References

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