Brisco in 1973
|Birth name||Freddie Joe Brisco|
|Born||September 21, 1941|
Seminole, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Died||February 1, 2010 (aged 68)|
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications from cardiac surgery|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Billed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Billed weight||234 lb (106 kg)|
|Trained by||Leroy McGuirk|
Freddie Joe "Jack" Brisco (September 21, 1941 - February 1, 2010) was an American professional wrestler. He performed for various territories of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), becoming a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and multi-time NWA Tag Team Champion with his brother Gerald Brisco. Brisco is considered one of the top wrestlers of his era; in 2005, Don Leo Jonathan called him "probably the greatest champion of the 20th century."
Brisco was raised in Blackwell, Oklahoma with five siblings. He grew up as a fan of professional wrestling, and particularly a fan of NWA World Champion Lou Thesz He was followed by his younger brother, Gerald Brisco, into sport wrestling and turned down a football scholarship at University of Oklahoma to go to Oklahoma State. In 1965, he became the first Native American to win an NCAA Wrestling National Championship. He won it during his junior year, and wasn't taken down once during the entire season.
Brisco's first documented professional wrestling championship reign began on October 16, 1965, when he defeated Don Kent to win the NWA Missouri Junior Heavyweight Championship. He held the belt for less than a month, and regained it in November by defeating Kent again. Around this time, Brisco also wrestled for NWA Tri-State. While there, he won a couple of state titles (the Oklahoma Heavyweight Championship and the Arkansas Heavyweight Championship). He also won his first tag team title in this promotion, teaming with Haystacks Calhoun for his first reign as co-holder of the Tri-State version of the NWA United States Tag Team Championship. He later held the title again, as he teamed with Gorgeous George, Jr. to win the belts on May 9, 1967.
Brisco then moved to the Florida area, where he wrestled for Championship Wrestling from Florida for several years. His first title there was the NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight Championship, which he won on February 11, 1969 by defeating The Missouri Mauler. He dropped the title to the Mauler and regained it on July 8. Two weeks later, he won the first of an eventual ten NWA Florida Tag Team Championships, with Ciclon Negro. Although he and Negro dropped the tag team belts the following month, Brisco held the Southern Heavyweight Title until November 1969, when he left the area to wrestle in Japan and Australia.
When Brisco returned to Florida, he began teaming with his brother, who he had trained in professional wrestling. He also continued competing as a singles wrestler, winning the NWA Florida Television Championship on November 27, 1970. On February 16, 1971, the Briscos teamed up to win the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship. They dropped the belts the next month to Dory Funk, Jr. and Terry Funk and regained them from the Funks in April. That month, Brisco also beat Terry Funk in a singles match to win the NWA Florida Television Championship again. Brisco's next major success was regaining the Southern Heavyweight Championship from Dick Murdoch on June 8, 1971. The title was later held up after a controversial rematch with Murdoch.
Brisco then took a short break from Florida wrestling to work for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. While there, he won the NWA Eastern States Heavyweight Championship twice by defeating The Missouri Mauler and Rip Hawk.
Upon his return to Florida, he quickly won the NWA Florida Brass Knuckles Championship from Paul Jones on June 13, 1972, and vacated it the same day. He then won his third and final Television Championship on November 7, 1972. Nine days later, he won the Tag Team Championship, again with his brother.
Brisco's first NWA World Heavyweight Championship win was scheduled to be over Dory Funk Jr., capping off a multi-year feud. However, Dory claimed to be injured in a truck accident and missed the scheduled date. Brisco and Terry Funk were sent out to make the bookings that were already scheduled for Brisco, and Dory later lost the title to Harley Race. Brisco and several others within the NWA power structure always questioned the legitimacy of the accident, claiming Dory Funk Sr. did not want his son to lose to a "pure" wrestler and harm his credibility Brisco won the title from Race after a brief reign, in Houston, Texas on July 20, 1973. He defended the championship in NWA-affiliated promotions across the world facing top names like Johnny Valentine, Stan Stasiak, Abdullah The Butcher, Gene Kiniski, The Sheik and Bobby Shane until losing to Giant Baba on December 4, 1974. He regained it four days later. Brisco then defended the title until losing it to Terry Funk on December 10, 1975. His loss continued the extensive feud between the Briscos and Funks, which went on for several more years. During his initial reign as champion, Brisco toured Australia where he successfully defended his title against local favorite, Spiros Arion.
In 1976, Brisco wrestled in several promotions and continued to add to his list of titles. He won the Memphis version of the NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship on August 10, 1976, by defeating local favorite Jerry Lawler. He won the NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship from Bob Backlund on November 26. At this time, the Briscos were also awarded the ESA International Tag Team Championship, although they did not wrestle as a team in the area.
Wrestling in Florida again, Brisco teamed with his brother to win several more championships. In 1977, they defeated Bob Orton, Jr. and Bob Roop for the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship. They lost the title to Ox Baker and Superstar Billy Graham and soon regained it in a rematch. On January 25, 1978, they won the belts again by defeating Ivan Koloff and Mr. Saito. While holding these belts, they also won the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship on February 21, from Mike Graham and Steve Keirn. They dropped the United States tag belts back to Graham and Keirn but soon regained them. They were defeated for the United States title by Killer Karl Kox and Bobby Duncum, and were again successful in regaining it in a rematch. The same thing happened when the Briscos faced Mr. Saito and Mr. Sato that year: they lost the belts and quickly won them back. The Briscos also defeated Saito and Sato to regain the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship. The following year, another victory over Saito and Sato earned the Briscos their final United States Tag Team Championship reign.
The Briscos also had success in Georgia Championship Wrestling, where they won the NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship twice. They competed in a tournament for the tag team belts and finished in second place after a loss to the Funks. They defeated the Funks for the belts two months later. On November 25, 1979, the Briscos defeated Austin Idol and The Masked Superstar to win the belts a second time. Jack gave up his share of the title, however, to Ole Anderson. Later that year, Brisco became the first NWA National Heavyweight Champion by defeating Terry Funk in a tournament final.
In 1980, Brisco resumed wrestling in Florida. He won the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship again, teaming with Jimmy Garvin this time. After losing the belts, Brisco teamed with his brother to win them for a final time.
In 1981, Brisco won his final Southern Heavyweight Championship by defeating Bobby Jaggers. He finished his time in Florida with two reigns as co-holder of Florida's version of the NWA North American Tag Team Championship. He and his brother won a tournament to win their first title, defeating Assassin #1 and Bobby Jaggers in the finals. They lost the belts to the Funks on January 9, 1982, and regained them in a rematch one week later.
Brisco also wrestled in Puerto Rico in 1981, for the World Wrestling Council. He won the WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship on May 30, and held it for almost seven months. He teamed with his brother to win the WWC North American Tag Team Championship from Los Pastores (better known as The Bushwhackers) on August 8, holding it for six weeks before dropping it to The Fabulous Kangaroos. Brisco also returned to Missouri in 1981, defeating Ted DiBiase to win a second NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship. He held the belt for three weeks before losing it to Ken Patera.
In 1982, Brisco returned to Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. He regained the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship (formerly called the NWA Eastern States Heavyweight Championship) by defeating Roddy Piper on May 10, 1982. He dropped the title back to Piper on July 7 and regained it in August. After his matches with Piper, Brisco traded the title back and forth with Paul Jones several times. He lost the belt to Jones on September 1 and won it back on October 18. Jones won the belt again a week later, and dropped it back to Brisco in November.
Brisco teamed with his brother to win the Mid-Atlantic version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship three times. As heels, they beat Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood for the belts on June 18, 1983. This set up a rivalry in which the belts switched hands several times. Steamboat and Youngblood regained the belts on October 3, but the Briscos won them back on October 21. They held the title for a little over a month before dropping it back to Steamboat and Youngblood. The Briscos again won the belts the following year, from Wahoo McDaniel and Mark Youngblood.
The Briscos acquired minority interests in Georgia Championship Wrestling and, in 1984, convinced a majority (52%) of the shareholders to sell their shares to Vince McMahon, enabling him to increase his dominance of the professional wrestling world. The popular story that the Briscos were offered lifetime jobs with the WWF in exchange for selling their interests in Georgia Championship Wrestling was refuted by Jack Brisco in a 1996 interview for Wrestling Perspective.
On December 28, 1984, the Briscos challenged The North-South Connection (Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch) for the WWF Tag Team Championship in Madison Square Garden. The match ended in a double countout, and was Jack Brisco's last high-profile bout.
Jack left the business entirely in February 1985, while Jerry transitioned to a behind the scenes-role with the WWF/WWE which he kept until retiring in 2009 due to health problems.
Brisco was inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005. Brisco lived in Florida where he ran the Brisco Brothers Body Shop with brothers Gerald and Bill for over 30 years. He has also made occasional wrestling appearances such as Florida's Wrestle Reunion in January 2005. Brisco is considered one of the great legendary wrestlers of the 1970s and has often been cited as such by Ric Flair during his emotional promos. Brisco and his brother, Gerald were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2008.
Over the final few years of his life Jack suffered from bouts of pneumonia and back problems. He had been a heavy smoker. On February 1, 2010, Brisco died at the age of 68 from complications of open heart surgery. He was survived by his wife of over 30 years.