New York Times’ NEIL GENZLINGER penned a good story on former wrestling manager and broadcaster Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Here’s a snippet.
Bobby Heenan, a professional wrestler who found greater success managing other wrestlers and working as a quick-witted commentator, becoming one of the most colorful figures in a flamboyant business, died on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. He was 72.
His death was announced on the website of WWE, the organization formerly known as World Wrestling Entertainment. Mr. Heenan, universally known by his nickname, the Brain, had been treated for throat cancer and other health problems for years.
Mr. Heenan managed a starry roster of wrestlers, including Andre the Giant, Nick Bockwinkel, the Brain Busters, King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd. And he was one of wrestling’s most visible characters, whether inviting the crowd at ringside to shower him with derision or bantering on television about a forthcoming match.
The wrestler Ric Flair, on Twitter on Sunday, called him “the greatest manager, one of the greatest announcers, and one of the best in-ring performers in the history of the business.”
Raymond Louis Heenan was born on Nov. 1, 1944, in Chicago. His father, Robert, was a railroad worker. His mother, the former Mildred Bernadette Kambrcz, was a hotel manager.
He saw his first match as a boy, and the attraction was immediate. “I was 10 years old, and I went to the Marigold Arena in Chicago, and I was hooked, just like that,” Mr. Heenan said at his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
He began hanging out at wrestling events in Chicago as a teenager, carrying wrestlers’ jackets, selling soda and doing other odd jobs; the wrestler Dick the Bruiser (Richard Afflis) was a particular mentor.
When someone did not show up one day, the young Mr. Heenan donned a mask and took part in a match. By the mid-1960s he was in the ring as a wrestler himself. He often employed a shtick that involved a lot of talk but an aversion to actual physical contact.
Mr. Heenan began managing other wrestlers early in his career, and in the bluster-filled world of professional wrestling, that did not mean merely scheduling their matches; it meant brashly talking them up and taunting their opponents.
His wrestlers were generally “heels” — the villains in the matches — and so he came in for a fair amount of taunting himself. Detractors called him Weasel and were quick to chant that name when he turned up at ringside or in the announcers’ booth.
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