By Paul Stratoti, Contributing Writer
Les Thatcher “I’m not sure what I’m feeling as I write that the toughest wrestler on God’s green earth has left us.
“Harley Race & I first met in 1963 when we worked the Kansas City territory, he was 19 & I was 22. Over the years we have wrestled one another. We did the first CAC training camps. Along with Ricky Steamboat we coached the frist week long Noah tryout camps Harley ran at his gym, and the 3 of us were the first to do multi-day training camps for Indy promotions, & we 3 co-authored :The Professional Wrestler’s Workout & Instructional Guide.
“To have earned Harley’s respect as a wrestler & trainer is a highlight in my long career. As tough and salty as he could be, Harley was also a teddy bear of understanding & caring when the time came. Those of us lucky enough to have earned his friendship are better for it, and the industry is better for his being World Champion, and teacher to so many. His passing leaves a void in so many lives and wrestling has lost a great spokesman.
“As I wipe the tears from my eyes, I will close this by saying I will remember my dear friend with so much love & respect, and savor the memories of our time together. Go with God Champ!”
The first time that this future Cauliflower Alley Club Lifetime Member ever met him was on July 13, 2003 when the then lead CAC trainer Harley Race and his lovely wife BJ visited promoter JT Lightning’s Cleveland All Pro Wrestling at Turner’s Hall to be a part of the promotion’s 13th anniversary. This was an elation like none other as I was photographing the card with the intention of having my shots displayed on the CAPW Website as directed by JT himself. During that historic card … ‘Fabulous’ Richard Weede defeated Aero Ironman def Guile (w ‘Beat Nick Page) Canadian Bad Boy def Dick Trimmins Isaac Burton, Tyson Bishop & PC Lover def Sheamus O’Reiley (aka WWE’s Sheamus), Romeo & Bret Myers Lars Rockne def Raymond Right (aka WWE’s Eric the Viking Raider) Alexsis Laree (aka WWE’s Mickie James) def Lexie Fyfe JT Lightning & Chad Collyer ((aka Chad Malenko) with Harley Race) def Adam Cage & H8 Pac
NOTE: Harley felt the need to step in during the end of the match when NEPW Manager Eddie Edwards interfered. Harley delivered his patented and revised Suplex as shown above.
CAPW TV Title: Judge Krush def Tatum
CAPW Tag Team Title: Sheik Abdul & Discole Fever def Tracey Smothers & Bobby Blaze
M Dogg 20 vs Josh Prohibition – No Contest when H8 Pac interfered
Tables Match: Jason Bane def BasketNazi
Raven def Buff Bagwel
During this card Chuck Phillips interviewed Harley Race:
CP: “Who did you wrestle on that night? Tell us about some of your memories of Cleveland.”
HR: “Well, the last time I wrestled in Cleveland I wrestled George “the Animal” Steele.”
CP: “How was the green tongue? Was it nice?”
HR: “Well, it was purple that time. As you said earlier I was the first ever ‘King of the Ring’. When I went back from the NWA into the then WWF they said ‘Well, where do we go from here?’ 8 time world champion – we’ll just have to have a big service. That night in Boston in the football room where the big green monster is I wrestled 6 times that night. The last time was againat Pedfro Morales after which they put the crown on top of my head.”
CP: “…and you still are the champ!”
HR: “Well, I don’t know about that, but… [the roar of the crowd got louder]
“…all I can say is I’ve had a world of fun doing what I’ve done my whole entire life tonight, and I damn sure wouldn’t have it any other way! Thank you!”
CP: “Thank you Harley Race! Ladies and gentlemen, one of the greatest heavyweights of wrestling, Harley Race!”
Promoter JT Lightning shakes hands with Harley[The crowd rises to their feet and claps once again as did yours truly while raising my left arm in victory celebration shouting accolades with the crowd at the top of my lungs]
June 11, 2006 at the Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, NV – Cauliflower Alley Club’s 41st Reunion. Harley enjoyed his banquet with former World Tag Team partner, Larry “the Axe” Henning (while Psycho Patrick Stratoti in a blue shirt is playing the part of a shady referee by looking the other way!), then receives his award:
November 29, 2015 via Facebook: It would be an honor to see you again at CAC this April but more so, we all want you in as best shape as you can be. So if you have to miss this upcoming year WE ALL STILL STAND BY YOU and are honored to have you in our wonderful organization. Peace, bro!
Photo provided by Scott Romer
CAC Photographer Scott Romer: “I had the distinct honor of managing 8 times NWA Champion, Harley Race as Saul Creatchman for my WWA pro wrestling TV debut in 1984. RIP Harley.”
World League Wrestling:
WORLD LEAGUE WRESTLING ANNOUNCEMENT:
“We would all like to thank everyone for the tremendous turnout last night. Needless to say, that Harley Race packed the house – yet again.
MANY people have been asking about memorial services for Mr. Race. There will be a memorial service for the public to attend on Sunday, August 11th at 3:00 PM. It will take place at the Race Wrestling Arena in Troy, Missouri. Everyone is welcome to attend as we honor the legend that gave us everything he had.
If you would like to send flowers to the memorial service, you’re more than welcome to do so. The address to the Race Wrestling Arena is
198 Cherry Blossom Way Troy, MO 63379
If – in lieu of flowers – you would rather make a donation, please donate to the American Cancer Society in memory of Harley Race.”
Article and photos by Paul Stratoti unless otherwise noted