I was saddened today to learn of the passing of former NWA world heavyweight champion and true wrestling legend Jack Brisco, who died following complications from heart surgery at the age of 68. Just two days ago I watched with great admiration as Brisco discussed his NWA title reign in the WWE DVD "The History of the World Heavyweight Championship." The WWE Hall of Fame wrestler is on most any knowdledgable fan's short list of all time great wrestlers.
Here is a press release I received from Shannon Rose, spokesman for Jerry Brisco, that include thoughts from the younger Brisco brother and other peers of Jack Brisco:
(Tampa, FL) - Friends and fans of the late WWE Hall of Famer, Jack Brisco, were saddened to hear that the legendary grappler passed away earlier today from heart complications.
Freddie Joe Brisco, known as Jack Brisco was a man who rose from meager beginnings to become successful in both amateur and professional wrestling.
As the first Native American to capture an NCAA wrestling championship, Jack won the national crown in the 171 poundage class for Oklahoma State University.
After college, Jack joined the ranks of professional wrestling where he dazzled competitors and fans alike with his tremendous wrestling skills. Besides winning the National Wrestling Association (NWA) world heavyweight title, Jack also grabbed the NWA world tag team belts with his partner and brother, Gerald Brisco.
"Jack was the best big brother in the world," claimed Jerry (Gerald). "When I faced tough times as a youth, he was always there for me. He paved the way for me in both amateur and professional wrestling. We even went into business together as owners of Brisco Brothers Body Shop in Tampa. I feel blessed that we always remained close."
During the 1970's, Jack's popularity soared when he participated in the famous Funk-Brisco matches. Dory Funk Jr. and Jack packed every house show in Florida plus Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis and arenas throughout Japan. "He was a super athlete and gave credibility to professional wrestling," said Dory Funk Jr. who matched up against Jack for some 300 bouts.
Mike Graham, who wrestled extensively with Jack, had this to say, "There have been some great amateurs who turned pro, guys like Lou Thesz, Verne Gagne and Kurt Angle, but in my opinion, Jack Brisco was the greatest amateur turned professional in wrestling history."
The late Gordon Solie often described Jack Brisco as a "class act, in and out of the ring."
Politician, and former pro wrestler Brian Blair shared his thoughts, "Sadly we lost a Hero today, -- Jack Brisco.
Jack was not only my child hood Hero --- he was one of my very best friends. If Jack could just come to one more Lunch to say goodbye to everyone --- If he could have one more Road Trip with us or pull one more "Rib" on someone --- I pray that the Good Lord will comfort his soul and his Family. I know we will all miss Jack Brisco --- The Legend, The best pure wrestler to ever wear the tights. Jack was a Husband, Father and one of my closest confidants: Jack, you will always be the "Champ!" May you rest in Peace Dear Brother! God Bless."
For those fortunate to meet Jack in person, they were greeted with a great smile, a firm handshake and a pleasant but confident demeanor. He will not only be remembered as a tremendous athlete, but also as a wonderful human being.