TAMPA, Fla. – During his days in the ring Eddy Mansfield billed himself as “230 pounds of twisted steel and sex appeal,” – he could talk the talk and walk the walk.
Even though his professional wrestling career only lasted a decade, Mansfield certainly left his mark on the sports entertainment industry. He got his start at the age of 19, wrestling in front of sell-out crowds from California to Florida.
On Friday, Mansfield was honored by a group of his contemporaries at a Legends Luncheon in Tampa. The event was presented by former grappler/Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair. The man known as the ‘Continental Lover,’ touched on a variety of topics including how he broke into the business.
“I trained with two of the best – Dick Slater and Terry Funk,” he recalled. “They gave me the knowledge I needed from talking in front of a camera to energizing the crowd to the moves in the ring; they also contributed to me being a little crazy!”
Mansfield quickly became a grappler who would walk the walk and talk the talk, but just as his career started to take off he decided to do an interview with the ABC News show 20/20. He gave reporter John Stossels an inside look on how wrestling worked in the ring.
Soon after the segment aired in 1984, Mansfield’s phone stopped ringing. Promoters wouldn’t use him, and other members of the industry didn’t want to work with him.
“It cost me and my family a lot, but I had good reasons for doing what I did,” he said. “I was looking out for me and the boys. I wondered why we couldn’t get benefits – health insurance, retirement plans, stuff guys working other jobs were getting.”
At Friday’s luncheon, a former wrestler Mansfield ‘feuded’ with in a series of matches in Texas introduced him to the audience. ‘Cowboy’ Scott Casey and Mansfield set attendance records in a handful of venues back in the 1980s with their exciting matches.
“It was a great time, we had a lot of fun with it and the fans really responded,” Casey said.
Among those in attendance, Friday to honor Mansfield were wrestlers well-known to fans in Tampa Bay – Rocky Johnson – the father of Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Buddy Colt, Denny Brown, David ‘The Cuban Assassin’ Sierra, Prince Tonga and Bob Cook.
The turnout nearly brought the rugged Mansfield to tears.
“It’s an honor just to be honored, but when a group like this recognizes you, it is really something special,” he added. “I am so blessed.”
If you are a fan of old-school professional wrestling, Blair puts together a Legends Luncheon every three months at O’Brien’s Irish Pub on North Dale Mabry in Tampa.