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Author Topic: Haystacks Calhoun?
brutebernard65
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Did Haystacks Calhoun wrestle for the world title or was he just an attraction? Was he considered a draw and or a main eventer? What world champs did he face?

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R.I.P Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy

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Crimson Mask I
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Yeah Stacks had shots with Thesz ('57), several with Rogers, and one with Kiniski I found. I think you can say he had main event status in some territories at least before and after his big period as a special attraction.

So long from the Sunshine State!

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brutebernard65
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
Yeah Stacks had shots with Thesz ('57), several with Rogers, and one with Kiniski I found. I think you can say he had main event status in some territories at least before and after his big period as a special attraction.

So long from the Sunshine State!

I just remember them bringing him into a territory as a special tag partner for a babyface facing the big heel team of the time. Also he seemed almost like an Andre type attraction.

I have seen clips of him in his younger days going to Japan with Kowalski and some others (Ike Eakins...maybe) and being a huge hit over there because of his size. They would drive him around on a flat bead truck with haybales carrying a little pig.

I guess Kowalski and Monsoon and others tormented the heck out of Haystacks and pulled ribs on him constantly. I met Haystacks in his later years and he was anything but the friendly country boy persona that he had. He seemed bitter and downright surley but it may just have been a bad day.

Would have loved to have seen how Thesz worked with him in a match. Did he ever face Harley or was that after his time on top?

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theblondebomber
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Freddie Blassie did not like Haystacks at all.

Freddie wrote quite a bit about it in his book.

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Cincinnati Kid
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He had a match with Bruno in Madison Square Garden in early 1961. Photos from that match were shown in Wrestling Revue later that year. It was kind of power -vs- power match-up. At one point, Bruno picked Haystacks up and placed him at the edge of the ring. Bruno later was declared the winner when Haystacks was counted out.
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Ken Viewer
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Bruno tried to body slam him that night and couldn't. Sammartino did lift Calhoun off of his feet by getting both arms around Calhoun's left thigh --just below the crotch-- and lifting up. Must have cleared the ground by a foot. At the time, the match was considered quite a novelty event.

Ken

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Rollo Nickels from WA
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I tried Mr Searchy and couldn't find it (I seem to remember it didn't match the thread title) but there's a paste of an article about Calhoun that's a must read somewhere here. Who posted that? CM? Someone link to it, eh?

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quote:
Originally posted by Ken Viewer:
Bruno tried to body slam him that night and couldn't. Sammartino did lift Calhoun off of his feet by getting both arms around Calhoun's left thigh --just below the crotch-- and lifting up. Must have cleared the ground by a foot. At the time, the match was considered quite a novelty event.

Ken

Well... close.



[ 09-30-2005, 07:57 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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quote:
Originally posted by Rollo Nickels:
I tried Mr Searchy and couldn't find it (I seem to remember it didn't match the thread title) but there's a paste of an article about Calhoun that's a must read somewhere here. Who posted that? CM? Someone link to it, eh?

quote:
Originally posted by Payton23340:

The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
June 17, 1987

Requiem for a Rassler - Poverty, Illness pin Haystacks

Once a star, Calhoun now a shut-in

McKINNEY, Texas - When Bill Calhoun left this Dallas suburb to become a professional rassler, he took along a pair of bib overalls, a lucky horseshoe and the understanding that he'd need a stage name to make it big.

Everything else about Calhoun was already extra-large. He weighed 300 when he was 14. Served his draft papers four years later, he was a 385-pound risk. The government passed. On the day in 1955 when he ate his normal dozen eggs for breakfast, then laced his size 14 EEEEE shoes and walked out of McKinney, no ordinary scale could do him justice. He was very near the 601 pounds that rasslin' ring announcers would bellow about for the next two decades. "From Morgan's Corner, Arkansas, . . . standing 6-foot-4, weighing 601 pounds . . . Haystacks Calhoun."

Morgan's Corner was a lie - sort of a stage birthplace that Calhoun thought sounded a tad more hillbilly than Texas - and his weight, to be honest, was unverifiable. What couldn't be denied was that in the stranger-than-science fiction world of rasslin', Haystacks Calhoun was a really huge show. A sideshow, definitely, but then rasslin' was and still is nothing if not carnival.

During an appearance on Art Linkletter's House Party, Calhoun tossed bales of hay high into a loft as a show of brute strength; hence the nickname. "It fit," he says, "and, anyway, a name like Bill would have meant death at the box office."

He wore the horseshoe into the ring, strung on a logging chain around his neck. And nobody could tell him that it was silly superstition. How much luckier could a Texas farmboy get anyway?

Calhoun reportedly made $150,000 a year before he was 35. He saw Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Honolulu, Alaska, Canada, Newfoundland, Puerto Rico, Cuba. For most of the guys he grew up with in McKinney, the globe curved out of sight at El Paso.

Groucho Marx booked him on "You Bet Your Life." Jack Paar and Merv Griffin were next. A company selling king-size beds called with an idea, and there in living black-and-white was Haystacks and Jayne Mansfield endorsing extra-firm mattresses.

Hollywood didn't miss this trick, either. At the end of "Requiem for a Heavyweight," the life of former boxer Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn) is in tatters. Degraded, he turns to rasslin'. The closing scene is Rivera climbing into the ring across from the real thing - from Morgan's Corner, Arkansas, weighing 601 pounds, Haystacks Calhoun.

Hulk Hogan, who makes his Atlanta debut Friday night at The Omni on a World Wrestling Federation card, and the others who ride the sport's cresting wave owe thanks to Calhoun.

"Rasslin' was a job and a good job," says Calhoun, 30 years after that life began. "I don't like nobody saying anything bad about rasslin'. It took care of me for a long, long time."

On a cold winter day, Bill Calhoun sits in his double-wide trailer in McKinney, 30 miles away from the big glass city to the south. It is mid-February. Calhoun hasn't been outside the trailer since September 29, 1986, the day he argued his release from a nursing home in nearby Celina.

On June 6, a doctor friend of the extended family amputated Calhoun's left leg above the knee. The diagnosis was gangrene, traced to a long bout with diabetes and obesity, a war Calhoun seemed genuinely uninterested in fighting.

"He never did a darn thing about his weight or the diabetes," said a family acquaintance. "Ate the way he did, he's got himself to blame. In the nursing home, they put him on a diet. He said the food was slop. Had pies and cakes snuck in. Was downright incorrigible. After the operation, he just laid down and quit. He wasn't willing to help himself. He just laid there day after day."

Twenty-five years after a bit part in a Hollywood movie, Calhoun has the lead role in another requiem for a heavyweight. Perhaps life does imitate fiction. He has his memories, and he has the bib overalls and lucky horseshoe tucked away in a suitcase. There is little else.

"The horseshoe's back there," Calhoun says, forcing a grin and pointing to his bedroom. "But it looks like all the luck done ran out the wrong end."

He shares the mobile home with his 76-year old mother, Mittie; his 20-year-old daughter, Kay, and Mr. T, a black-and-white Boston bull terrier.

Friends say the family is destitute. There's not an employed person in the house. Once Calhoun wheeled through McKinney flashing diamond rings - one had STACKS spelled out in jewels - but family members say when he returned for good in 1981 he was flat broke.

Calhoun says, "I did waste some money, but I don't know where it all went. I mean, I didn't live that high." He says some went for his father, who died of cancer in the early '70s. Some more, he spent for his own medical care.

Dr. Erwin Pink, the surgeon who amputated his leg last June, says, "I'm told that old Bill ran out of money long before he started having these physical problems. As far as how the operation got paid for, it's like an old physician once told me. `Every once in a while in this business you do one for Jesus.' "

Calhoun has a large balance at Pink's clinic in nearby Frisco that probably will never be paid. His mother has a serious case of phlebitis, was recently hospitalized and takes daily medication. His daughter is retarded. Mittie Calhoun raised her and says she "gets along fine with a little supervision."

"Between the three of us, we make one good person," says Calhoun, who gives himself a daily injection of insulin. "We do OK. Things ain't been going so well for us. I'm not depressed or anything. It's just with the leg and all I've had to alter my lifestyle."

It's the lifestyle of a shut-in. There are the basics: a television, a refrigerator and two phones - one on a table next to Bill's bed.

He is 52, young. "But when you been carrying around 400, 500, 600 pounds all your life, it takes its toll," said Bill Spears, a second cousin.

When he isn't lying in bed, Calhoun sits in a Travel-wide wheelchair. He says he weighs 300 or so. He looks closer to 350-400. His hair is slick and combed straight back. He is missing teeth. Gray strands run through his scraggly black beard.

Outside, the trailer park is clean, if not manicured. Inside the Calhoun home, the kitchen floor, gouged and scratched, is a reminder of the first few weeks after his nursing home stay when the family could not find a wheelchair large enough. Under his bulk, the kitchen chairs wouldn't slide. His daughter, a stocky girl, helped push him around as best she could.

The extra-wide wheelchair wasn't an immediate fix. There was a problem getting it inside the trailer door and then to the back bedroom. A hallway door frame had to be hacked for clear passage.

As he talked about his rasslin' career, he pauses to spit tobacco juice into a cut-off bleach bottle. Ever so often, Kay trots to the kitchen, got a napkin and dabs at her daddy's mouth.

He talks and laughs for two hours, and for two hours his mother and daughter sit on a couch in the living area, speaking only to shush Mr. T's barking.

"I felt like I was a pioneer," says Calhoun. "There were really no big men before me in the sport, not ones who had my moves. I made it easier for Andre the Giant to do what he's done. I paved the way.

"Some of the big guys were strictly an attraction. Not me. I was wrestling at a fair once and heard a carnival barker hollering about a rassler, a real big guy. The man had gotten so fat he could hardly walk. I was determined not to let that happen to me."

Everyone must reach a point in life, some later than others, when he wonders if he'd be better off having been something else. Had Bill Calhoun chosen to take care of himself, followed a less freakish pursuit, kept his weight manageable, maybe worked the corn and cotton crops on his daddy's farm, what then? Groucho Marx would never have called, but then Calhoun might not be spending his days lying in a bed next to a phone.

He says he's never bothered to wonder, his only regret being "that I could've taken a little better care of my money, I guess. But you don't think of that when you're young. Rasslin' gave me a chance to straighten out my mind. I spent a lot of time on the open highway, thinking. I realized that I wasn't a bad guy just because I was so big. I realized people liked me. Rasslin' did that for me."

In a sense, Bill Calhoun figures he's already fooled the fates. His money lasted longer than doctors thought he would.

When he was 18 and 385, they told him he wouldn't live to see 21. When he was 21, he says a physician in California suggested he clean up his business deals and personal affairs within six months.

"They found the same doctor a few months later dead on a jogging trail," Calhoun says, laughing.

"I've always been big, you know. I never did get full. I just got ashamed to eat anymore."

Once he began rasslin', there was no chance he'd change his habits. The obesity that would later lead to what his doctor calls "several serious physical problems" was his ticket to fame.

"Back then we had wrestlers and attractions," said former wrestler Lou Thesz. "Stacks fit the second group. But as attractions go, he was the best of the era. He wasn't a circus freak. He tried to do the thing."

Haystacks Calhoun was known for the bib overalls, the lucky horseshoe and "The Big Splash." The Splash: Calhoun would climb to the top rope and launch himself onto horizontal (and often suspecting) opponents.

"Never had anybody get up from the Splash," Calhoun says, showing a gap-toothed grin. "They mighta rolled away, but they never got up."

In the hokey world of rasslin', Calhoun says he was the only man to ever hold a tag-team title by himself. "He was the King of the Battle Royale," said wrestling announcer Gordon Solie. "Who was going to throw him over the top rope? Stacks was a novelty figure, no doubt. It was smart that he kept going from area to area before he wore himself out."

No doubt Calhoun was a cult figure. Rasslin' crowds can skewer all sense of perspective. Do they watch because they believe it's real or because they love it for the bizarre entertainment it is? Someone could have serious difficulty trying to see a valid reflection of his own identity in that audience.

Everybody knew Calhoun, and nobody knew him. Thesz, Buddy Rogers, Killer Kowalski - the names of that day - speak of him glowingly. Great guy. Nice with kids. Gentle man. They liked him, they say.

But what did they know of him? He was a road companion, an opponent. But did they know he'd been divorced twice? That his daughter was born retarded? That it took him a long time to accept his big-man complex? Do guys name Killer, Nature Boy, Gorgeous, Bruno and Baron sit around and talk real life with each other?

"You didn't know guys at all," said Rogers. "All the travel is one thing. But then there's a tremendous amount of jealousy in our business. A lot of resentment. People undermine each other. Wish each other bad luck. What's that saying? `The bottom is crowded. The top is lean.' "

"You live in a cocoon as a wrestler," said Kowalski, now working in business in New England. "You have your own lingo. You're very wary of strangers. Carnival people are like that, too."

Calhoun traveled the country like carnival people, too. Every year he said he'd put 100,000 miles on a brand new International Travel-All (custom made to support his weight), then trade it on another one.

He cut a deal with the airlines, the same one afforded bass fiddle players: two seats for the price of 1 1/2. It was a good deal, a good life and it prepared him to do absolutely nothing.


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Crimson Mask I
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quote:
Originally posted by theblondebomber:
Freddie Blassie did not like Haystacks at all.

Freddie wrote quite a bit about it in his book.

Yeah and I think what Blassie did to Stacks' little dog was total chicken****.
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HarryWhite3
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I am kind of thinking in Scott Teal's MSG book that O' Connoor had a mid card match with Haystacks around the time that Pat was champ. Just can't picture Calhoun getting around for O' Connor's reverse rolling cradle finisher.
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Playboy Dain
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by theblondebomber:
Freddie Blassie did not like Haystacks at all.

Freddie wrote quite a bit about it in his book.

Yeah and I think what Blassie did to Stacks' little dog was total chicken****.
I thought Stacks dog died while they were in the same bed together, and Calhoun rolled over on top of the dog a smothered it. Is there a different story?

I've heard several times that Calhoun wasn't the real friendly country boy he played on TV.

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Mi Keg
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Definately an overlooked person in wrestling history. As a kid watching the WWWF in the early 70's I really got a kick out of "Stacks". My mom thought it was cute when he and Tony Garea won the tag-team titles and Haystacks wore his belt around the bib of his overalls as, obviously, it wasn't going to fit around his waist!
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Crimson Mask I
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quote:
Originally posted by Road Warrior Dissdain:
quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by theblondebomber:
Freddie Blassie did not like Haystacks at all.

Freddie wrote quite a bit about it in his book.

Yeah and I think what Blassie did to Stacks' little dog was total chicken****.
I thought Stacks dog died while they were in the same bed together, and Calhoun rolled over on top of the dog a smothered it. Is there a different story?

I've heard several times that Calhoun wasn't the real friendly country boy he played on TV.

Yeah different story. Dog was a chihuahua or something tiny like that. Blassie thought it'd be cute to dose it with laxatives and lock it in Stacks' truck.
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1000 Masks But No Jobs
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by Rollo Nickels:
I tried Mr Searchy and couldn't find it (I seem to remember it didn't match the thread title) but there's a paste of an article about Calhoun that's a must read somewhere here. Who posted that? CM? Someone link to it, eh?

quote:
Originally posted by Payton23340:

The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
June 17, 1987

Requiem for a Rassler - Poverty, Illness pin Haystacks

Once a star, Calhoun now a shut-in

McKINNEY, Texas - When Bill Calhoun left this Dallas suburb to become a professional rassler, he took along a pair of bib overalls, a lucky horseshoe and the understanding that he'd need a stage name to make it big.

Everything else about Calhoun was already extra-large. He weighed 300 when he was 14. Served his draft papers four years later, he was a 385-pound risk. The government passed. On the day in 1955 when he ate his normal dozen eggs for breakfast, then laced his size 14 EEEEE shoes and walked out of McKinney, no ordinary scale could do him justice. He was very near the 601 pounds that rasslin' ring announcers would bellow about for the next two decades. "From Morgan's Corner, Arkansas, . . . standing 6-foot-4, weighing 601 pounds . . . Haystacks Calhoun."

Morgan's Corner was a lie - sort of a stage birthplace that Calhoun thought sounded a tad more hillbilly than Texas - and his weight, to be honest, was unverifiable. What couldn't be denied was that in the stranger-than-science fiction world of rasslin', Haystacks Calhoun was a really huge show. A sideshow, definitely, but then rasslin' was and still is nothing if not carnival.

During an appearance on Art Linkletter's House Party, Calhoun tossed bales of hay high into a loft as a show of brute strength; hence the nickname. "It fit," he says, "and, anyway, a name like Bill would have meant death at the box office."

He wore the horseshoe into the ring, strung on a logging chain around his neck. And nobody could tell him that it was silly superstition. How much luckier could a Texas farmboy get anyway?

Calhoun reportedly made $150,000 a year before he was 35. He saw Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, Honolulu, Alaska, Canada, Newfoundland, Puerto Rico, Cuba. For most of the guys he grew up with in McKinney, the globe curved out of sight at El Paso.

Groucho Marx booked him on "You Bet Your Life." Jack Paar and Merv Griffin were next. A company selling king-size beds called with an idea, and there in living black-and-white was Haystacks and Jayne Mansfield endorsing extra-firm mattresses.

Hollywood didn't miss this trick, either. At the end of "Requiem for a Heavyweight," the life of former boxer Mountain Rivera (Anthony Quinn) is in tatters. Degraded, he turns to rasslin'. The closing scene is Rivera climbing into the ring across from the real thing - from Morgan's Corner, Arkansas, weighing 601 pounds, Haystacks Calhoun.

Hulk Hogan, who makes his Atlanta debut Friday night at The Omni on a World Wrestling Federation card, and the others who ride the sport's cresting wave owe thanks to Calhoun.

"Rasslin' was a job and a good job," says Calhoun, 30 years after that life began. "I don't like nobody saying anything bad about rasslin'. It took care of me for a long, long time."

On a cold winter day, Bill Calhoun sits in his double-wide trailer in McKinney, 30 miles away from the big glass city to the south. It is mid-February. Calhoun hasn't been outside the trailer since September 29, 1986, the day he argued his release from a nursing home in nearby Celina.

On June 6, a doctor friend of the extended family amputated Calhoun's left leg above the knee. The diagnosis was gangrene, traced to a long bout with diabetes and obesity, a war Calhoun seemed genuinely uninterested in fighting.

"He never did a darn thing about his weight or the diabetes," said a family acquaintance. "Ate the way he did, he's got himself to blame. In the nursing home, they put him on a diet. He said the food was slop. Had pies and cakes snuck in. Was downright incorrigible. After the operation, he just laid down and quit. He wasn't willing to help himself. He just laid there day after day."

Twenty-five years after a bit part in a Hollywood movie, Calhoun has the lead role in another requiem for a heavyweight. Perhaps life does imitate fiction. He has his memories, and he has the bib overalls and lucky horseshoe tucked away in a suitcase. There is little else.

"The horseshoe's back there," Calhoun says, forcing a grin and pointing to his bedroom. "But it looks like all the luck done ran out the wrong end."

He shares the mobile home with his 76-year old mother, Mittie; his 20-year-old daughter, Kay, and Mr. T, a black-and-white Boston bull terrier.

Friends say the family is destitute. There's not an employed person in the house. Once Calhoun wheeled through McKinney flashing diamond rings - one had STACKS spelled out in jewels - but family members say when he returned for good in 1981 he was flat broke.

Calhoun says, "I did waste some money, but I don't know where it all went. I mean, I didn't live that high." He says some went for his father, who died of cancer in the early '70s. Some more, he spent for his own medical care.

Dr. Erwin Pink, the surgeon who amputated his leg last June, says, "I'm told that old Bill ran out of money long before he started having these physical problems. As far as how the operation got paid for, it's like an old physician once told me. `Every once in a while in this business you do one for Jesus.' "

Calhoun has a large balance at Pink's clinic in nearby Frisco that probably will never be paid. His mother has a serious case of phlebitis, was recently hospitalized and takes daily medication. His daughter is retarded. Mittie Calhoun raised her and says she "gets along fine with a little supervision."

"Between the three of us, we make one good person," says Calhoun, who gives himself a daily injection of insulin. "We do OK. Things ain't been going so well for us. I'm not depressed or anything. It's just with the leg and all I've had to alter my lifestyle."

It's the lifestyle of a shut-in. There are the basics: a television, a refrigerator and two phones - one on a table next to Bill's bed.

He is 52, young. "But when you been carrying around 400, 500, 600 pounds all your life, it takes its toll," said Bill Spears, a second cousin.

When he isn't lying in bed, Calhoun sits in a Travel-wide wheelchair. He says he weighs 300 or so. He looks closer to 350-400. His hair is slick and combed straight back. He is missing teeth. Gray strands run through his scraggly black beard.

Outside, the trailer park is clean, if not manicured. Inside the Calhoun home, the kitchen floor, gouged and scratched, is a reminder of the first few weeks after his nursing home stay when the family could not find a wheelchair large enough. Under his bulk, the kitchen chairs wouldn't slide. His daughter, a stocky girl, helped push him around as best she could.

The extra-wide wheelchair wasn't an immediate fix. There was a problem getting it inside the trailer door and then to the back bedroom. A hallway door frame had to be hacked for clear passage.

As he talked about his rasslin' career, he pauses to spit tobacco juice into a cut-off bleach bottle. Ever so often, Kay trots to the kitchen, got a napkin and dabs at her daddy's mouth.

He talks and laughs for two hours, and for two hours his mother and daughter sit on a couch in the living area, speaking only to shush Mr. T's barking.

"I felt like I was a pioneer," says Calhoun. "There were really no big men before me in the sport, not ones who had my moves. I made it easier for Andre the Giant to do what he's done. I paved the way.

"Some of the big guys were strictly an attraction. Not me. I was wrestling at a fair once and heard a carnival barker hollering about a rassler, a real big guy. The man had gotten so fat he could hardly walk. I was determined not to let that happen to me."

Everyone must reach a point in life, some later than others, when he wonders if he'd be better off having been something else. Had Bill Calhoun chosen to take care of himself, followed a less freakish pursuit, kept his weight manageable, maybe worked the corn and cotton crops on his daddy's farm, what then? Groucho Marx would never have called, but then Calhoun might not be spending his days lying in a bed next to a phone.

He says he's never bothered to wonder, his only regret being "that I could've taken a little better care of my money, I guess. But you don't think of that when you're young. Rasslin' gave me a chance to straighten out my mind. I spent a lot of time on the open highway, thinking. I realized that I wasn't a bad guy just because I was so big. I realized people liked me. Rasslin' did that for me."

In a sense, Bill Calhoun figures he's already fooled the fates. His money lasted longer than doctors thought he would.

When he was 18 and 385, they told him he wouldn't live to see 21. When he was 21, he says a physician in California suggested he clean up his business deals and personal affairs within six months.

"They found the same doctor a few months later dead on a jogging trail," Calhoun says, laughing.

"I've always been big, you know. I never did get full. I just got ashamed to eat anymore."

Once he began rasslin', there was no chance he'd change his habits. The obesity that would later lead to what his doctor calls "several serious physical problems" was his ticket to fame.

"Back then we had wrestlers and attractions," said former wrestler Lou Thesz. "Stacks fit the second group. But as attractions go, he was the best of the era. He wasn't a circus freak. He tried to do the thing."

Haystacks Calhoun was known for the bib overalls, the lucky horseshoe and "The Big Splash." The Splash: Calhoun would climb to the top rope and launch himself onto horizontal (and often suspecting) opponents.

"Never had anybody get up from the Splash," Calhoun says, showing a gap-toothed grin. "They mighta rolled away, but they never got up."

In the hokey world of rasslin', Calhoun says he was the only man to ever hold a tag-team title by himself. "He was the King of the Battle Royale," said wrestling announcer Gordon Solie. "Who was going to throw him over the top rope? Stacks was a novelty figure, no doubt. It was smart that he kept going from area to area before he wore himself out."

No doubt Calhoun was a cult figure. Rasslin' crowds can skewer all sense of perspective. Do they watch because they believe it's real or because they love it for the bizarre entertainment it is? Someone could have serious difficulty trying to see a valid reflection of his own identity in that audience.

Everybody knew Calhoun, and nobody knew him. Thesz, Buddy Rogers, Killer Kowalski - the names of that day - speak of him glowingly. Great guy. Nice with kids. Gentle man. They liked him, they say.

But what did they know of him? He was a road companion, an opponent. But did they know he'd been divorced twice? That his daughter was born retarded? That it took him a long time to accept his big-man complex? Do guys name Killer, Nature Boy, Gorgeous, Bruno and Baron sit around and talk real life with each other?

"You didn't know guys at all," said Rogers. "All the travel is one thing. But then there's a tremendous amount of jealousy in our business. A lot of resentment. People undermine each other. Wish each other bad luck. What's that saying? `The bottom is crowded. The top is lean.' "

"You live in a cocoon as a wrestler," said Kowalski, now working in business in New England. "You have your own lingo. You're very wary of strangers. Carnival people are like that, too."

Calhoun traveled the country like carnival people, too. Every year he said he'd put 100,000 miles on a brand new International Travel-All (custom made to support his weight), then trade it on another one.

He cut a deal with the airlines, the same one afforded bass fiddle players: two seats for the price of 1 1/2. It was a good deal, a good life and it prepared him to do absolutely nothing.


CM, thanks for posting that story, I had not read it before. Haystacks was before my time and I never read much about Haystacks the person.

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Beyond Salem
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Haystacks had a good run in Tornto in the late 60's and early 70's and did some of the local towns as well for the Wildman.
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Ken Viewer
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by Ken Viewer:
Bruno tried to body slam him that night and couldn't. Sammartino did lift Calhoun off of his feet by getting both arms around Calhoun's left thigh --just below the crotch-- and lifting up. Must have cleared the ground by a foot. At the time, the match was considered quite a novelty event.

Ken

Well... close.


Not bad, I say, for the recollection of a match I saw live 44 years ago. No arguing with the photo; where'd you find it?

Rereading the newspaper article posted here, regarding Calhoun's splash, I never, live or watching on TV, saw him climb the ropes to jump-start the move. He did the splash from a standing position on the ring surface. Calhoun was very graceful and athletic for a guy so huge --but rigging the ropes and posts to carry his weight is something I question.

Did anyone ever bodyslam him? And does anyone know what his real weight was when he was wrestling?

Ken

[ 10-01-2005, 01:59 PM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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The photo was originally in Wrestling Revue---not even sure where I got the scan from.

Stacks once told our own doctagraym that he legitimately topped out at 585.

I don't remember Stacks climbing the ropes either.

Kowalski once got about the same lift on Stacks and backdropped him over the top rope, there's a pic floating around somewhere. I believe Don Leo slammed him, and legend has it that Killer Karl Kox brainbustered him once.

[ 10-01-2005, 02:10 PM: Message edited by: Crimson Mask I ]

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Ken Viewer
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:

Wow. Thanks for posting the Kowalski lift photo.

Ken

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Matt Farmer from WA
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It's obvious from those pics that Stack' was nowhere close to 601lbs.

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Cincinnati Kid
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Calhoun's "Big Splash" was done while standing in the ring as the opponent was lying on the canvas.

I didn't see the match (and sometimes Farhat's one-hour TV shows did feature taped matches from the Cobo Arena), but in a match against The Sheik for the United States Heavyweight Championship, Calhoun reportedly did climb up on the ropes to attempt the "Giant Splash". This goes with the various endings to matches that Farhat used to keep himself champion and was probably from the late 1960's. According to the report that was later relayed on the TV show, The Sheik was lying on the mat. Instead of doing the splash from the canvas, Calhoun went up on the ropes. I don't know if it was to the top of the turnbuckle or not. He attempted the splash, but The Sheik moved out of the way. As Calthoun hit the mat and was stunned, The Sheik was able to cover him (maybe just an arm, etc.) for the pin to retain the U.S. Title.

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Geoff from Melbourne
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Bulldog Brower slammed him in Melbourne ,Australia back in 72 or 73.
I know because I was there!

Brower had claimed he would body slam him and Haystacks said he wouldn't. Every time Brower tried to get the lify on him Haystacks would bring the forearm down on Browers back preventing him from lifting him. Big Bad John (Browers manager) jumped up onto the ring apron and threw what looked like flour into Haystacks face which blinded him. Brower then kind of picked him up half way and threw/slammed him to the mat which then gave Brower bragging rights for doing what he said he would!

Now THOSE were the good old days when a night at the wrestling left a young fan like me with everlasting memories! [Smile]

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yamada
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won-lost-draw
-1963.4.17 International heavy weight championship in Japan

Haystack Calhoun drawed vs. Rikidozan.

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Friends say the family is destitute. There's not an employed person in the house.
It's pitiful, but I wonder how he got so big.
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I did not realise he went all the way back to the 1950's. What year did he break in? What year did he have his last match in?

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The article says he started in '55.

I've got a Calhoun vs. Riki match on tape. Riki wins by countout (a common finish for Stacks when he wasn't gonna go over).

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yamada
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In 1963 (5th WORLD LEAGUE 1963), members from the US were Haystack Calhoun, Kowalski, Pat O'Connor, Gorilla Monsoon (GINO MARERA), Fred Atkins, Killer X (FRANK TOWNSEND), SANDOR SZABA. Bob Ellis & G. Togo.

I made a mistake. Calhoun vs. Riki' match was in Okinawa that belonged to US, not Japan, at that time.

His figure made big impacts on people. He had a handy-capped match vs. four japanese young wrestlers as Attraction.

The Single Rating of WRESTLING WORLD (1971 summer) says that Calhoun is ranked in 36.

Hiro

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cooliomcawesome
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For the most part, Calhoun was a special attraction and was often times advertised as such. Even though he wasn't necesarily the "main event" he was still a tremendous draw. It's really not too different from Andre the Giant who was always one of the top stars in the business even when he wasn't necessarily on the very top of the card.

Calhoun was a big enough name for Bruno Sammartino to use as a launching pad for his own career. Bruno essentially made a name for himself by going on a radio station and claiming that he could slam Calhoun. This was enough to get people talking and, eventually, promoters had to book the match. According to Sammartino, Calhoun was announced at his usual 601 lbs. prior to that match but when they weighed him backstage after the match was over, he was actually 620 lbs.

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Judo John
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I wonder if Stacks just didn't get grouchy in his old age with being on the road for so long. Anybody have any experience with meeting him when he was younger? Plus he had to have felt like Andre did, who wasn't the friendliest of fellas himself with everybody staring at him all the time.

I liked Haystacks for his inring persona and work. He was no Lou Thesz but he was a good attraction. As a little kid I really loved the guy.

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Greg from Brisbane
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Bruno looks like he's got a pretty effective bear hug on Stacks leg in that pic, if only he could have gotten it up for a back breaker.
Geoff did you go to the Melbourne match between Stacks & Brower? In Sydney it looked more like a glorified hip toss.

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quote:
Originally posted by cooliomcawesome:
According to Sammartino, Calhoun was announced at his usual 601 lbs. prior to that match but when they weighed him backstage after the match was over, he was actually 620 lbs.

I think that goes into the 'things Bruno said which should be taken with a grain of salt' column.
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yamada
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quote:
According to Sammartino, Calhoun was announced at his usual 601 lbs. prior to that match but when they weighed him backstage after the match was over, he was actually 620 lbs.
My book also says Stacks was 273 kg, equal to 601.3 lbs. with a calculator. [Razz]
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yamada
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Oops. I've just clicked this guy [Razz] stucking a tongue like a snake. Forgive me, not on purpose.
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Matt Farmer from WA
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He was probably bout 400lbs. legit. He's really not much bigger than Kowalski.

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I believe he topped out at 585 like he said. Look at the torso. Could easily have a couple hundred pounds on Kowalski. I saw him in person quite a few times and it didn't seem farfetched that he was twice the weight of the guys he was wrestling or more. I think he dropped down to about 400 maybe, but later in his career, like that match on tape vs. Tim Brooks.
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Ken Viewer
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I go with Crimson Mask's appraisal. Haystacks was a huge, huge man, circa 1961. Don't know when the photo with Kolwalski was taken, but the Calhoun I saw in person was certainly twice Killer's size --and I saw Kowalski live, too. KK was taller, but Haystacks was maybe three times wider.

Stopped attending and viewing at the time Bruno took the WWWWWWWF title, so I can't say what happened later. Six-hundred pounds? Well, as CM posted, 585.

Ken

[ 10-03-2005, 05:34 PM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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My sig is now "Message edited by Ken Viewer."

Ken

Yup...Message edited by Ken Viewer

[ 10-03-2005, 05:36 PM: Message edited by: Ken Viewer ]

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cooliomcawesome
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quote:
Originally posted by Crimson Mask I:
quote:
Originally posted by cooliomcawesome:
According to Sammartino, Calhoun was announced at his usual 601 lbs. prior to that match but when they weighed him backstage after the match was over, he was actually 620 lbs.

I think that goes into the 'things Bruno said which should be taken with a grain of salt' column.
Fair enough but there actually there may be some credence to Sammartino's clams. If I remember correctly, on Calhoun's application for the renewal of his wrestlers licence, he listed histed his ring weight at 620 lbs. I'll try to find a link.

http://www.historyforsale.com/html/prodetails.asp?documentid=258809

Calhoun's weight was indeed listed at 620 lbs. on the application for the renewal of his licence for the New York State athletic commission in 1973. This doesn't necessarily mean that he weighed 620 when Bruno fought him and, furthermore, I suppose it is possible for Calhoun to have listed his weight incorrectly. Regardless, it does go to show that the 620 lbs. figure was not a complete fabrication of Sammartino.

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Stacks was billed at 601 early in his career and then 621 after a certain point (which IIRC coincided with his actually DROPPING about 100). Weights are of course fabricated as you know. It just doesn't make sense. Stacks himself said he topped out at 585 legit. Who ever heard of a weigh-in in pro wrestling? Especially AFTER the match? Did they even HAVE a scale at the Garden that went up to 620 in 1961? Sorry. I ain't buyin'.
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Marcos from OK
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I think I've seen another photo of Bruno holding up Stacks from the other side. From what I remember on the Bruno interview for "Famous Sports Legends" they talk about Bruno lifting Calhoun and he claims that Paul Anderson tried to lift him first but wasn't able to. My assumption as a young kid was that Haystacks simply grounded his weight vs. Anderson but jumped up for Bruno as I seriously doubt Bruno had anywhere near the ability to lift mass as the legendary Anderson. Anyone know if the Anderson story is true? I had also thought both were lifting challenges along the lines of Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger, not actual matches.
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