By Brian Kelley
Missouri Wrestling Revival loves to support the stars in the Midwest today, but we will never forget the fine men and women who brought respect and honor to the sport from the past. This year’s Lifetime Achievement goes to Bob Geigel, a man who more than deserves the recognition for his career not only in the squared circle but as President of the NWA.
Born here in the Midwest in Algona, Iowa, Geigel would serve our country in the U.S. Navy for four years during World War II.
When he returned home, Geigel was a respected amateur athlete at the University of Iowa. He was a champion amateur wrestler during his college years, coming in at third place during the 1948 NCAA Championships. Geigel would also letter four times at the University of Iowa in football.
After the late Alphonse “Babe” Bisignano took the time to teach pro wrestling with the athletic Geigel , it would not be long before he would travel to Florida , Texas, trips to Nova Scotia during the summers and a short stint in New York. During a successful run in Florida he would earn him the nickname “Texas” Bob Geigel.
Not only was he a star in the states but multiple tours of Japan earned him respect from legendary wrestler and promoter Giant Baba.
Geigel was a star at both the NWA and AWA, He would be the NWA Central States Champion on six occasions and he would capture tag team titles multiple times. Quite possibly his most famous partnership would be with “Bulldog” Bob Brown.
Geigel, Pat O’Connor and Harley Race formed Heart of America Sports Attractions Inc., also known as Central States Wrestling, which continued to serve among the NWA’s most prominent divisions until it was purchased by Jim Crockett Promotions in 1986.
We had hopes to invite Bob Geigel and his wife Vera to Metro Pro Wrestling to honor him with a “Bob Geigel night” during a show, but Geigel reminds me of my grandpa. Though he is at the young age of 87, Geigel still works a day job during the weekends and does not miss a day on the job so he was unable to take part in such an event.
Even though Bob was busy getting ready for work, Geigel and his wife welcomed Dubray and I in to their home. Talk about a great moment, being able to sit and talk to the Geigel family about the important people that were involved in wrestling in the past, as well as the moments that changed history in the sport.
I explained to Geigel that his wrestling promotion’s TV show ALL-STAR Wrestling was a huge reason on why I was at his house that day. Memories of ring announcer Bill Kersten starting the show with “Helloooooooooooooooooooooooo wrestling fans” intro to “All-Star Wrestling.” Men like Harley Race, Rufus R Jones, Nature Boy Roger Kirby and Mike George made me a fan of wrestling for life.
One historic moment in my young wrestling life was watching on TV at Midnight on ALL-Star Wrestling was the shocking turn that “Bulldog” Bob Brown did on is tag team partner Marty Jannetty. As a young kid I was horrified and upset in the chain of events that happen…Pro Wrestling had me hooked.
From the start Dubray enjoyed meeting his wife and the two really hit it off great. A personal highlight was being welcomed to the basement of the Geigel home to look at photos of various events though out his life. I was impressed that each photo had a description on the front for it to explain just who each person was.
In his collection were photos of his wonderful family, legendary wrestlers such as Harley Race and Pat O’Conner, American icons such as Bob Hope and even a great photo of the wrestlers playing a basketball game with the Harlem Globe Trotters. Bob also spoke fondly of huge wrestling fans Mertie and Gertie Hite. Two sisters who never missed a match as they would cheer on their favorites and give the ones they didn’t like a hard time.
It was easy to see the love that Vera and Bob shared for each other, and even with all the wrestling accolades in the world of wrestling you could tell when they spoke that they were most proud of were their three daughters.
Bob Geigel has earned many title and awards in his career including being enter in George Tragos/Lou Thesz Hall of Fame class of 2002 as well as the 2007 Cauliflower Alley Club Lifetime Achievement Award. So it was with great honor for us that he would accept the 2011 Missouri Wrestling Revival Lifetime Achievement award.
Once again thank you goes out to the Geigel family for inviting us into their home this past weekend.
I would also like to thank the artist and personal friend Rob Schamberger for his artwork for the plaque that we presented Mr. Bob Geigel with at this house.
In the future come to Missouri Wrestling Revival to find out how you can win a free autograph photo from Bob Geigel.
To learn more about Pro wrestling in Kansas City we highly recommend that you purchase the DVD K.C. ON THE MAT: The History of Professional Wrestling in Kansas City…. For more info on this DVD and how to purchase it click here.