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"Cowboy" Bob Kelly (1936-2014)

Real Name - Robert R. Kelley

Lifespan - 6/28/1936 - 10/12/2014

5'11" 218 lbs. - Louisville, KY

Athletic BackgroundWrestling [USMC]; Rodeo, Stockcar Racing

Teacher(s) - Lee Fields, Wee Willie Davis, Doug Kinslow

Professional BackgroundKentucky(`59-`65), WWA[Indianapolis], Nashville, Florida, NWE[North Bay](`64), Gulf Coast(`64-`75), Tri-State(`74), WWA[Indianapolis](`76), Gulf Coast(`76)

AliasesThe Hangman, The Intruder, The Blue Yankee

Peak Years`68-`74

Place in HistoryIn pro-wrestling, “paying your dues” is a concept that is often brought up. Whether or not someone fulfills this supposedly dictates how much respect they have for the business, their peers and the fans. There is a list of those who have not “paid their dues,” but Bob Kelly would not be on that list. Perhaps no one worked harder within pro-wrestling for longer and received less, yet still made it to the top than this man. Bob Kelly was of hearty stock as a former Marine and amateur wrestler, he had the mental and physical toughness to make it pro-wrestling. He worked small shows around Kentucky and Indiana for years, he worked for Larry Kasabowski in Northern Ontario, where Kelly made the connection that changed his life. The Garvins were top heels and recommended Kelly to go into Lee Fields’ Gulf Coast territory. He packed up his family and things and headed down to do whatever Fields needed him to do from filling in on the cards and refereeing to sweeping the floors and working on the ring crew. Kelly worked the Western end of the territory under booker Bill Golden and slowly worked his way up before taking the book. Although Bob Kelly’s angles might have seemed tame by today’s standards, he was a master at building feuds and personalities. Not surprisingly, he quickly found himself on top teaming up with Bobby Fields, battling the Interns, Don Carson, Rocket Monroe and other legendary Southern heels. He was soon brought to Mobile, the home base of the Gulf Coast territory, where he booked GCCW to great heights in the late 60s and early 70s. Kelly, the rugged Cowboy, became an institution in Mobile like Lee Fields before him. He too drove stock cars, rode horses and became a top babyface. Feuding with heels like local superstars like the Wrestling Pro, the Blue Yankee and Gorgeous George Jr. as well as nationally known villains like Bobby Shane and the Fargos (Don Fargo being his greatest opponent). The Cowboy bulldogged his way to winning every belt in the territory and he held the biggest one, GCCW Heavyweight title, longer than anyone. Forty years old and still happily married, Kelly wanted to leave pro-wrestling. Although he made a brief return as booker the following year, Cowboy Bob Kelly had a legendary retirement befitting such a career.