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Ron Etchison (1920-1994)

Real NameRonald Lewis Etchison

Lifespan - 5/6/1920 - 4/3/1994

6’1” 230 lbs. - St. Joseph, MO

Athletic BackgroundBoxing [Golden Gloves]

Teacher(s)Gust Karras; Warren Bockwinkel, Lou Thesz, Ray Villmer

AliasesKing of Mask

Peak Years1950s

Place in HistoryRonnie Etchison was boxing for the University of Missouri when he made his pro-wrestling debut.  While it spoiled his amateur career, he soon turned pro.  Etchison simultaneously pursued pro-wrestling and pro-boxing for a time, even winning championships in both before focusing on the former.  After his decorated service during World War II, Etchison’s career took off.  He held “World titles” in Montana and Western Canada, but none of those were strong claimants, although it did setup some big matches with the likes of Orville Brown.  As “Golden Boy,” Ronnie Etchison worked on top as a babyface for Joe Malcewicz in San Francisco in the later days of the promotion.  He worked on top, holding the Pacific Coast Heavyweight title for time, but San Francisco was a tag team territory.  He partnered up with the likes of Enrique Torres and Sandor Szabo to battle with the Sharpe Brothers and the Tolos Brothers.  Back in his home state, Etchison became a top babyface.  He based himself there, traveling out every couple years to Florida or Georgia and he had tours of Japan and Australia as well.  He wrestled NWA Champion Lou Thesz on numerous occasions, even beating him in a couple non-title matches.  Etchison also worked Buddy Rogers, Jack Brisco and countless others when they came to St. Louis or worked the Central States circuit.  Wrestlers generally had polarizing views on working for the Kansas City office.  It was a vast four state area with modest crowds and payoffs.  However, they provided talent to St. Louis, which was a one-city promotion, but was the home of the NWA president.  Although the Kansas City wrestlers tended to fill the undercards for the St. Louis shows that imported big name talent, Ron Etchison moved up and down the cards until his retirement in 1970.  He worked his share of big matches there and earned a great reputation amongst his peers.  After leaving the ring, he worked for the office, refereeing matches, running spot shows and the like.  He also spent time training talent at his “School of Stretch”, namely Butch Reed, Ed Wiskowski and Mike George, who all had success locally and in other territories.  After leaving the business completely, he tended bar and bounced for years before Alzheimer’s ended his professional life.  His end was a particularly sad one as he was left alone, spending his final years in an assisted living facility.  The territorial system was held up on the backs on men like Ronnie Etchison.  He was a good talent who fill any role on a card and get over doing so anywhere he went.  While some might dismiss him as a journeyman who homesteaded in a second-rate territory, the truth is, he did his share of main events and had more NWA championship matches than most of his contemporaries.