Floyd “Duke” Myers, a feared ring ruffian across the southern USA who became a Stampede wrestling mainstay in the glory years of the early 1980’s wielding a menacing black glove, passed away Saturday morning, August 22, 2015, in Oregon after a brief illness.
His wife Jane, who’d been with Duke for most of the last 51 years, related the sad news to Scott Teal of Crowbar Press.
“He’d been in the hospital for 2 weeks with a bladder infection and pneumonia but was getting better and they transferred him to a rehab center yesterday. When we saw him in the afternoon, he was joking and singing with our grandkids. Got a call from the rehab at 4 something this morning that he’d thrown up blood and possibly aspirated some so they were sending him back to the hospital but when we got to the hospital he was already gone. He was my husband, father of my kids, Papa to 8 grandkids and great grandpa to 9 (going on 10) great grandkids. I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Honoured by the Cauliflower Alley Club in 2007, Myers was a good amateur wrestler as a teenager in Portland and eventually worked out on the mats with more professional competition. He landed under the tutelage of Soldat Gorky, aka “Wolfman” Smith, and worked as a bouncer at one of Gorky’s bars. Gorky did the bouncing, though.
“He was my first match in professional wrestling. I got in here in Portland and we were training. Soldat Gorky cinched up on me in a small package rollup and he broke a vertebrae in my back.” After healing, Myers headed to the Phoenix territory. “That was a joke. We had more wrestlers in the dressing rooms than they had fans in the stands,” he laughed. “That was embarrassing.” He then headed to Salt Lake City but better luck awaited him in the Tri-States promotion in 1970 and the Mobile, Ala.-based Gulf Coast territory, where he spent much of the early 1970s.
He held the Western States title in Amarillo in 1972, swapping the belt with Lord Al Hayes. Also in 1972, Myers and Terry Garvin were U.S. tag champions in Tri-States managed by a teenage Jimmy Garvin, and the duo held the Mid-America tag titles in Tennessee three times the following year. “We started going and we clicked wonderfully,” he said.
Myers was out of action for about a year in 73-74 after a horrific car accident outside Dehli, Louisiana that resulted in a steel pin being inserted into his hip by doctors. “We hit a culvert doing 60 miles an hour. I cracked my spine, broke my legs, internal injuries. (The driver, Bob) Sweetan had two broken feet. George Hulse had a broken wrist and whined a lot.” After he returned to the ring he captured the NWA Gulf Coast title in 1975 from Terry Lathan before losing it to area hero Ken Lucas.
Myers went back to Tennessee in the 1980s as the Colossus of Death, part of the long-running feud between Jerry Lawler and entertainer-turned-wrestler Andy Kaufman. He also had two stints as AWA Southern Tag team title holders with Bobby Eaton. Myers was dismissive in reflecting on the over-the-top Tennessee territory, which he didn’t consider terribly professional. “Kaufman was somebody they had wrestling women and wrestling women wasn’t my thing. I threw fire and all that crap. I was more or less for the business. I didn’t care for these movie stars and stuff.”
Never one to knuckle under to promoters, Myers’ best run came when he entered Stu Hart’s Stampede promotion in Calgary after being shortchanged during a swing through Hawaii. “I went from 80-degree weather to 32 below. And it was cold, boy, I’ll tell you.” But it worked out well. In the 1980s, Myers held the Stampede North American singles crown briefly and was tag team champion seven times with a variety of partners, most notably Dynamite Kid and Kerry Brown, or “Pie-face” to Myers. “Kerry was the general and I was the strength,” he said.
“Duke was a classic example of what made Stampede Wrestling so great,” said Bret Hart. “One of the most solid and steady wrestlers ever to work up here.”
After Stu Hart sold the promotion to Vince McMahon in 1985, Myers started to wind down his career, but made an impression at the end of the decade as part of “The Bowlers” tag team with Goldie Rogers on the CNWA program shown on TSN and in syndication.
– with files from Steve Johnson and Greg Oliver