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Lee Fields (1930-2000)

Real Name - Albert Lee Hatfield

Lifespan - 8/18/30 - 7/4/00

??? - Pawhuska, OK

Athletic Background - n/a

Teacher(s) - Charlie Carr

Professional Background - n/a

Aliases - none

Peak Years - `54-`58

Place in History - Lee Fields left an impressive legacy behind when he passed away from leukemia in 2000. Son of referee Virgil “Speedy” Hatfield and Bonnie Welch of the celebrated Welch clan, he was born into pro-wrestling essentially. Hatfield trained under Charlie Carr before breaking in and taking the name "Lee Fields" to make a name on his own much like his cousin Buddy Fuller did. Fields and his younger brothers Don and Bobby Fields cut their teeth in their native Oklahoma before coming to Mobile, Alabama in 1954. Fuller was running the city for his father and Lee Fields was a trustworthy and capable star to put on top. He established himself by teaming with local favorites (and his own relatives) like Fuller, Lester Welch and Herb Welch. His main rival was a vicious heel from Argentina named Eduardo Perez and the region was built up based on their feud. They reportedly drew over 35,000 to Ladd Stadium and established the Gulf Coast Heavyweight Championship in the late 1950s. In 1959, Lee Fields bought the region and led Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling to great success in the 1960s and 1970s by expanding the territory significantly. Lee frequently tagged with Don and Bobby, until a car accident ended Don's career prematurely. GCCW featured a number of excellent heels who are largely known only to that region because they never wanted to leave. Men like "Rowdy" Red Roberts, Mario Galento and, of course, Eduardo Perez were staples in Alabama for many years and legendary heels like Dr. Jerry Graham, Rube Wright and Bobby Shane all came in for stints over the years and met Lee Fields in the ring. The Gulf Coast region was known for its short trips, hot crowds and nearby beaches that regulars and passers-through enjoyed. The promotion's version of the "Southern ballet" was successful for many years under the leadership of Lee Fields. By 1978, Fields' interest in pro-wrestling was waning. He sold the company to his second-cousin Ron Fuller and pursued his second love - racing cars. The story has it that Fields learned how to race very quickly and won his first major race in Pensacola. Fields owned Mobile International Speedway from 1972 to 1999, which was at one time a NASCAR-sanctioned track. Pro-wrestling in Alabama has a storied history that is not well-known outside the region. The fans were loyal to their local heroes and those same heroes (and heels) remained in the area and they kept things fresh for long stretches. Though he was not the first, the most innovative or even the most successful, Lee Fields took Alabama wrestling to a new level that paved the way for untold number of stars. He is truly a legend of pro-wrestling as both a regional star and a promoter.