We Lose Dick Hutton

Dick Hutton held the N.W.A. World Heavyweight Wrestling Championship in the late 50’s and before that was possibly the greatest heavyweight wrestler America ever produced. Dick passed away 24th November in Tulsa Oklahoma at the age of 80.

Dick held the title for 421 days, losing it to the talented New Zealander Pat O’Connor in St Louis on January 5th 1959.

The only criticism levelled at Dick Hutton was that he lacked colour, and lacked the drawing power of Lou Thesz and “Whipper” Billy Watson.

Born Richard Hutton on October 1923 in Amarillo, Texas, Hutton began wrestling at Clinton Junior High in what is now Tulsa Oklahoma.

In High School at Daniel Webster High he started to really excel at the amateur game, finishing second at the State Finals in his last two years.

At college his high school coach Frank Briscoe steered him to Oklahoma, which had a rich history in wrestling.  He was the N.C.A.A. Heavyweight Champion in 1947, 1948 and 1950.  In 1949 he lost to future pro great Verne Gagne in the finals on a controversial referee’s decision.

It was 44 years before Pat Smith, also from Oklahoma State, bested the three straight N.C.A.A. wrestling titles.

Hutton also went to the 1948 Olympic Games in London as a super heavyweight, finishing fifth in freestyle wrestling.

After a stint in the army, Hutton saw what kind of money his old foe Verne Gagne was making as a pro wrestler and sought out promoter Leroy McGuirk for training. Dick’s first bout was a loss to “Wild” Bill Longson in 1952. “Strangler” Lewis, who acted as the manager of Lou Thesz, also took Hutton under his wing.  After 3 months Hutton left Tulsa (which was light heavyweight territory) and headed out on the road starting in Texas.

In his carnival days Hutton took on all comers, with fans getting a dollar a minute for staying in the ring with him and defeating Hutton would mean $1,000.

In 1957 Hutton took on Thesz in Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto Canada. He beat Thesz with is favourite “Abdominal Stretch” hold and Thesz was forced to concede defeat. The customers, about 10,000 of them came out in the rain – sensed victory for Hutton when he secured this paralysing hold on Thesz and about 200 rushed the ring to squeal their delight.

Article written by Dave Cameron

Dave has been hanging around the dressing rooms for 60 years.

Dave was an amateur wrestler and part time pro in U.K. He boxed in New Zealand Services Champ’s 1954, Hobsonville, Auckland. He started writing for Magazines 1949.