|Birth name||Joseph Nichloas Zwaduk III |
|Born||August 28, 1938|
St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.
|Residence||Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.|
|Professional wrestling career|
Masked Assassin #1
The Masked Assassin
|Billed height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Billed weight||265 Ib (120 kg)|
|Trained by||Michael DiBiase|
Joseph Hamilton (born August 28, 1938) is an American retired professional wrestler and current wrestling promoter and trainer. In his active days, Hamilton was best known as one half of the tag team The Assassins where he was called "Assassin #1". When the Assassins ended, Hamilton wrestled as "The Assassin" and "The Flame" both while wearing a mask.
Hamilton teamed up with Tom Renesto in late 1961 to form the masked heel (bad guy) team known as "The Assassins" and, for over a decade, Hamilton and Renesto wrestled all over the world with great success. Once Renesto retired, Hamilton kept the Assassins team alive by partnering with wrestlers such as Randy Colley and "Hercules" Hernandez under the trademark gold and black masks of the Assassins.
In the late 1980s, Hamilton founded Deep South Wrestling (DSW), where he also wrestled until a back injury forced him to retire in 1988. After Deep South Wrestling closed, Hamilton worked extensively for World Championship Wrestling both on the booking team and later on as a trainer at WCW's Power Plant training facility. In 2005, Hamilton reopened Deep South Wrestling, this time as an affiliate of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), to train wrestlers the WWE had signed to developmental contracts. In 2007, WWE abruptly ended their contract with DSW and the promotion suspended operations later in the year.
Hamilton was born in St. Joseph, Missouri. Before turning professional, Hamilton was a promising amateur boxer, but instead of continuing his training, he decided that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Larry Hamilton. Larry was a professional wrestler billed as "The Missouri Mauler". Hamilton started working for "Gust Karras Promotions", a professional wrestling promotion based in Kansas City, Missouri, where he made his debut against Rip Hawk in a 40-minute match. By 1957, Hamilton had started teaming with his brother Larry and worked as a full-time professional wrestler. The Hamilton Brothers worked for the New York, NY based Capitol Wrestling, (the precursor to World Wrestling Entertainment), where they were put in a storyline with the top tag team of the promotion Antonino Rocca and Miguel Pérez. In May 1958, the Hamilton Brothers faced Rocca and Pérez in the main event of a Madison Square Garden show making Jody, age 19 at the time, the youngest man to ever co-star in a main event at Madison Square Garden.
After the Hamilton brothers time in New York, Jody Hamilton decided to strike out on his own working as a singles wrestler. As a singles wrestler, Hamilton first got a promotional push by NWA Western States booker, Doc Sarpolis, who billed him as "Silent" Joe Hamilton. Hamilton has revealed in recent years that the "Silent" moniker was because he was not very good at interviews and promos. After working in Texas, Hamilton worked in Oklahoma and Florida. When Hamilton left Florida in 1961, he intended to return to Oklahoma, but an offer from Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW) would change the direction of Hamilton's career for good.
The original plan for Hamilton was that he was going to wrestle under a mask as "The Iron Russian", but once Hamilton got to Atlanta the plans had changed and instead he became "The Assassin". After working as a singles competitor Hamilton was given a partner in late 1961, another masked Assassin, Tom Renesto. Renesto had teamed with Hamilton's older brother Larry but the two did not know each other before stepping into the ring in December 1961. The team worked well together from the onset and soon moved up the card towards the main events. For over a dozen years Hamilton and Renesto teamed together as the "vile" Assassins, a team hated for their "rulebreaking ways" wherever they wrestled. The Assassins, or the Masked Assassins as they were sometimes billed, worked all over the world for promotions in Georgia, California, Australia, the Far East, Japan and Canada. The only place the duo did not work as the Assassins was in the Carolinas where they were billed as "The Great Bolo" (Renesto) and "The Mighty Bolo" (Hamilton) because Renesto had worked for Jim Crockett Promotions as The Great Bolo before teaming up with Hamilton, and was more known in that region under the Bolo name.
The Assassins longest stay with one promotion was from 1968 to 1972 where they worked for Georgia Championship Wrestling and held the NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship a record-breaking 12 times. While in Georgia the team worked storylines with teams such as "the Torres Brothers" (Ramon and Alberto), Terry and Dory Funk and the team of Ray Gunkel and Buddy Fuller. Their most successful and profitable feud came against the team of "Tiny" Smith and Luke Brown known as "The Kentuckians". the matches between the Assassins and the Kentuckians drew sell out crowds up the east coast of the United States from Florida to the Carolinas. At times the Assassins would be backed up by Jody's brother the Missouri Mauler to take on the Kentuckians and their "fellow hillbilly" Haystacks Calhoun.
During their time in GCW Renesto became more and move involved in the booking of the promotion in the hopes of turning a decline in attendance around. Renesto is credited with turning the territory around with a series of hotly contested angles that brought the fans back. In 1972 after GCW owner Ray Gunkel died Gunkel's widow Ann Gunkel split off from the National Wrestling Alliance associated GCW and started her own company "All-South Wrestling" with Tom Renesto as the head booker. With his backstage responsibilities expanded Renesto cut back on his wrestling dates as Hamilton was pushed as a singles wrestler. In October 1972 Renesto unmasked on television, rumor has it that GCW was going to publish pictures of the Assassins without their masks on and Renesto wanted to beat them to the punch. After the unmasking Renesto would still occasionally team with Hamilton both with and without the mask but the glory days of the Assassins ended when Renesto took off the mask.
When All-South Wrestling folded in 1974 both Hamilton and Renesto returned to Georgia Championship Wrestling, deciding to bury any past animosity. Renesto retired from the ring and focused more on the booking aspects of GCW while Hamilton started to work as a singles wrestler billed simply as "The Assassin". When he joined GCW Hamilton started a storyline with Mr. Wrestling II that would become the longest running storyline in Georgia wrestling history. Over the following years the Assassin would enlist several other "Assassins" to team with him as he fought against Mr. Wrestling II and various face partners. One of these partners was Randy Colley, who would go on to greater success as one of The Moondogs in the 1980s. Together Hamilton and Colley would hold the NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship on two occasions. Colley and Roger Smith would team together as the Assassins in Memphis.
While GCW was Hamilton's "home promotion" he also competed for other promoters all over the south east especially in Florida and Alabama working for promotions such as Championship Wrestling from Florida, NWA Mid-America and Southeast Championship Wrestling. Hamilton used his "Assassin" gimmick but did not find another partner to recreate the Assassins, instead he would team with local stars such as Ron Fuller and Don Carson. By the beginning of the 1980s Hamilton decided to return to his roots in Oklahoma, after having worked more or less exclusively in the south east for ten years or more. First he worked for Central States Wrestling where he teamed with both Ernie Ladd and Angel to win the local version of the NWA United States Tag Team title. He would also hold the NWA Central States Heavyweight Championship, which was the main title for the promotion. After working for Central States Hamilton switched to Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling promotion. In Mid-South Hamilton teamed up with yet another "Assassin #3", this time it was "Hercules" Hernandez under the gold and black mask. Hernandez run under the golden mask ended when he was unmasked by Jimmy Valiant after a match in Toronto, Ontario as part of Valiant's lengthy feud with Paul Jones' army.
In the mid 1980s Hamilton retired the golden mask and adopted a new ring identity: "The Flame", together with another masked man going by the name "Fire", he won the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship in 1986. He would also hold the NWA Southeast Continental Heavyweight Championship on four occasions.
In 1986 Hamilton started a small independent promotion in Georgia called Deep South Championship Wrestling. Hamilton would work both backstage and in the ring under his "Flame" ring persona. One night in 1988 Hamilton was thrown from the top rope during a match and landed wrong, the fall caused him to break the lumbar vertebrae in his back. Because Hamilton was in no shape to run a wrestling promotion he sold it to someone else, only to see that person go out of business without ever putting on a wrestling show.
Once Hamilton recovered from his back injury he opened the official training center for World Championship Wrestling, the Power Plant. With Hamilton as director of the school it produced talent such as Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, Bill Goldberg, and the Big Show over the years.
As well as working at the Power Plant Hamilton was also used as a manager in 1993, mainly managing Paul Orndorff, in addition to Orndorff's tag team partners The Equalizer and Paul Roma. Hamilton's last on-screen appearance in WCW was at WCW Starrcade '93 on December 27, 1993, as The Assassin and managing Pretty Wonderful ("Pretty" Paul Roma and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff) to the WCW World Tag Team Championship. Hamilton was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame as part of the 1994 class on May 22, 1994 at The Civic Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
When WCW was bought out by the WWF in March 2001 the Power Plant was closed but Hamilton continued to train wrestlers.
In 2005, World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly World Wrestling Federation) reached an agreement with Hamilton wherein Hamilton would open a new version of Deep South Wrestling for WWE to use as a training ground. The company ran shows on a regular basis featuring WWE-contracted talent until April 18, 2007, when WWE ended its relationship with DSW. DSW ceased operations the next day in 2007, although DSW held its final event on April 12.
In February 2009, Hamilton officially returned to the business, joining Rampage Pro Wrestling, an independent promotion based out of Warner Robins, Georgia. He was the director of their television show that airs locally on multiple channels in the middle Georgia area. His son, Nick Patrick, also joined the promotion, though only in the on-camera commissioner role. In April 2009, the promotion released Hamilton, citing that they needed to cut costs. Nick stayed on with the promotion and took over his father's job as the television show director. The company brought Hamilton back later in the year in October. Hamilton and Patrick became heavily involved in producing the company's weekly television show that aired in the Middle Georgia area on the local FOX affiliate.
On January 22, 2010, Hamilton settled with WWE out of court. His attorney claimed that WWE "fraudulently contrived a reason to end the agreement" without giving the 90-days notice that was required in the contract. The suit also claimed that WWE illegally entered the Deep South building in McDonough, GA and took property that belonged to Hamilton. It also claims that the WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations, John Laurinaitis, warned that any wrestlers who continued to work with Deep South or Hamilton would never work in the wrestling business ever again. Two unnamed professional wrestlers who were under WWE contract at the time confirmed Hamilton's claim that Laurinaitis made the threatening speech. WWE attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed before it went to trial but were not successful. The settlement was not disclosed. 
Hamilton's son, Nick Patrick, was a referee for Georgia Championship Wrestling and Championship Wrestling from Georgia from 1980 to 1985, WCW from 1988 to 2001 and a referee for WWE from 2001 to 2008.