When talking about tough wrestlers, there are many in the business that would be included in that conversation. You can start with some of the easier choices like Terry Funk, Black Jack Mulligan, or Dusty Rhodes, but eventually, the conversation is ultimately going to turn to another wrestler that established his pro wrestling legacy in Texas. That particular wrestler was Tugboat Taylor.
“If you sat down at dinner with him, he was a big Teddy Bear, but if you wronged him, or one of his family members or friends, you knew not to do it again,” said Tugboat’s Son Chaz Taylor.”Dad was like an enforcer. If anyone in wrestling thought that they were better than the others, he would stretch them in the ring and get them back in line.”
On November 8th, 2017, at the age of 71, Dick “Tugboat” Taylor passed away. Taylor started his in-ring professional career after being trained by Johnny Valentine in the early ’80s. Taylor would become a part of Paul Bosch’s Houston Wrestling television broadcast, but would also travel to compete in promotions that would make his name known in the NWA, AWA, WWF, World Class, Triple-A, Crockett Promotions, and several others throughout his career.
“It was cool knowing that my dad was a pro wrestler. The kids at school knew who he was because he was on T.V., “said Taylor. “He had a reputation for being tough, but he was reliable. If he was booked to be on a show, he was there.”
When Chaz was a baby, his father served as a Marine and was an amateur wrestler who trained the wrestlers at Treasure Island on the military squad. It was at that point in Tugboat’s amateur wrestling career when he had one of his biggest matches. Tugboat suffered a loss that eliminated him from going to the 1972 Olympics in Munich, West Germany.
“He was beating Chris Taylor nine to nothing, but Chris outweighed my dad over a hundred pounds and Dad eventually ran out of steam,” said Chaz. Chris pinned my dad, and he then became the alternate.”
After a 26 year career in the pro ranks, he had his share of competition with elite wrestlers there as well. On any given night, he could be in the ring with guys like Ox Baker, Jerry Blackwell, Bob Orton, and the Junkyard Dog.
“I traveled with him many times and watched him step in the ring with the likes of the Ultimate Warrior, Sting, Ric Flair, Kerry Von Erich, Wahoo McDaniel, the Macho Man, Hulk Hogan, and Harley Race,” said Taylor. “It was cool to see him in the ring with the top guys and see him beat the hell out of them. How could a kid not be proud of his father when he’s hearing everyone cheer for his dad? It was a cool feeling.”
When Tugboat was not in the ring, he was teaching wrestling at his own school in Houston, Texas. In his school, he was known for being a perfectionist and instructing his students to do certain moves until they got them right. He had the opportunity to work with and pass along his skill set to wrestlers like Shawn Hernandez, Stevie Ray, Booker-T, and Ahmed Johnson, just to name a few.
“He would show them how to do something at his gym, and when you would watch Dad on tape in his old matches, he would be doing it just like he was teaching his students,” said Taylor. “There were a lot of guys that didn’t go on to become big names, but a lot of them went out and fulfilled their dreams. Whether they had a lot of money or not, Dad was willing to help them out.”
Throughout his lengthy wrestling career, and despite all the traveling that wrestlers do, Tugboat was always there for his family when he wasn’t on the road. He not only passed the skill of wrestling on to his son Chaz, but he also taught him several life lessons.
“If there was a wrestler on the road that was having trouble or was unable to get back home and see his family, my dad would give him money and tell him to use it to get back home,” said Taylor. “My dad didn’t just train these guys to be pro wrestlers, he trained them for life situations as if they were his own kids. He went beyond the call of duty, and to me, and that was very impactful. “
EVENT & SERVICE INFORMATION
Saturday, December 9, 2017- Celebration of Life for Tugboat Taylor. 10:AM to 2 PM-VFW Post #8905, 21902 Northwest Hwy Cypress, Tx. 77429.
Sunday, December 10, 2017- Matches start at 4 PM. (All matches will include Tugboat’s students.) VFW Post #8905 21902 Northwest Hwy Cypress, Tx. 77429.
Monday, December 11, 2017-12:30 PM Lunch at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. 2:00 PM Mass at 6646 Riddicks Satsuma Rd. Houston, Tx 77493.
Tugboat Taylor vs. Percy Pringle III-1990
Tugboat Taylor vs. The Patriot
Tugboat Taylor vs. Kerry Von Erich
ABC 13 Tribute to Tugboat Taylor