It’s with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Edmund Jones — who wrestled Major DeBeers — after a long battle with numerous ailments on Tuesday, April 16. Ed was not only my longest running wrestling protege but my best friend and the best man at my wedding.

Ed made his wrestling debut in 1976 after being trained by Danny Miller. In his first match in Columbia, SC, he lost to the Nighthawk. Initially, he was known as Big Ed Jones as he grew to become a regular on the indy scene in North and South Carolina Indy.

Big Ed Jones was only the first of his many wrestling names, which including countless masked gimmicks, including the Assassin, the Inferno, Superstar Destroyer, Superstar, Masked Menace and others. In the early 1980s, Jones met Rick Link on a show in South Carolina and started working for him as the Patriot, and working under that name, he had a feud with Jay Eagle that filled venues.

Through the years, the 5-foot-10, 260-pound Jones was always known as a solid worker but one with bad knees, stemming from his days playing football in high school. Those knees never got better and in later years, he had to change his style to do less.

In the early 1990s, Jones switched his gimmick to Major DeBeers and went all in. I once wrote that he was my favorite wrestler: “The South African is a man after my own heart. He hates minorities, children, old people, and puppies. The classic old-school heel. The Major’s philosophy of cheating is better than losing is a creed most people can, and should, live by.”

We actually first met in Selma, NC, in 1993, on a CCWA show where I was refereeing his match against Viper. I knew immediately that he was a true pro, and also knew immediately that when I got my Southern Championship Wrestling promotion off the ground, I wanted him on my shows where I would manage him under my own Count Grog gimmick.

Soon, we were traveling all over the South, with plenty of shenanigans and sold-out shows.

Major DeBeers and Count Grog

Two photos of Major DeBeers and Count Grog many years apart.

Major DeBeers and Count Grog

I was witness to his amazing matches with Viper, Wahoo McDaniel, “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, “Iceman” Chris Cannon and others.

When the wild style of ECW rolled into the rest of the country, we repackaged Ed as Major DeBeers “The Hardcore Legend or “The Grandfather of Hardcore.” His wild brawls with Rick Link always stood out to me, but there were plenty of bloody brawls with lots of plunder in them. For a time, DeBeers’ and Link’s feud probably the hottest thing on the Carolinas indy scene.

Through the years, DeBeers held the SCW title, the SCW Brass Knuckles title and the North Carolina championship.

On the microphone, Major DeBeers had few peers. He could tile a crowd up and that led to many close calls getting out of arenas.

His signature move was taking a clothesline over the top rope. He later added the heart punch as a finishing move. His style may have been hardcore but he was a master of wrestling comedy and could make a crowd laugh as easily as making them mad. When the brawl went into the bathroom, he’d come out with a tampon up his nose or a plunger sticking on his face.

When I began promoting under the GOUGE banner, DeBeers was still a regular, up until his final match against Jimmy Jack Funk Jr. when he retired (though he worked a few shows in Charleston for a local promoter).

Everyone in the locker room loved Ed. George South remembers him as Big Ed Jones and a good friend. Promoter Ken Spence remembers him as a good hand in the ring and a great guy outside it. Otto Schwanz loved teaming with DeBeers when he was starting out. Steve Frye met him while working for Johnny Hunter, and said he was old-school coming into the venue wearing his mask and never taking it off — even if he was in the office on the phone, the mask was only pulled up enough to talk.

Beastmaster Rick Link wrote something nice on Facebook:

So sad to hear that my dear brother and friend ED JONES ( Major DeBeers ) has passed away… I’ve known Ed for over 40 years, ED was one of my toughest opponents in the ring, having blood baths all over the Mid Atlantic. What’s great is ED knew JESUS as his savior and was happy to tell you that, you will be greatly missed, but you are now alive and well in the presence of our LORD in Heaven. Love you ED……

As for myself, I have so many memories of Ed, and probably could write a dozen articles.

One particular night stands out. We were double shooting between Waynesville, NC and Johnson City, TN. On a dark mountain road, we had to swerve to miss a deer in the road. Ed stopped the car and said, “I think it’s still moving.” I replied that it had to be dead. He backed up and told me to get out and poke it with a stick. I did and it was dead.

Count Grog, Baby Doll and Major DeBeers

Count Grog, Baby Doll and Major DeBeers

I should also mention Ed was always the best smelling wrestler in the locker room, I can’t smell Joop without thinking of him.

Ed was fun on the road and enjoyed little chocolate donuts he called Little Bastards. Ed was also know to enjoy a fine cigar and almost always had one he was puffing on.

Through the years, away from the ring, Ed’s ability to talk made him a perfect salesman, and he had many jobs in sales, always ranking amongst the top in sales in the company.

There was more to him than sales and wrestling. He was also a long time member of the Jaycees, and was a very committed to that organization. He had a deep faith in God and was a devoted Christian.

Given all our years together, I was very much in the loop as his wife, Becky, kept everyone abreast of his worsening condition. Just over the last week, he went from being on a ventilator and receiving dialysis, to everything deteriorating. The family — Becky and their son, Brad — made the choice to take him off life support.

He died less than a day later.

My grief is shared by Becky and Brad, but also thousands of wrestlers, fans, co-workers, and friends from college (who called him Tweety). Ed Jones truly lived a rich, a robust life. I’ll miss the big lug.