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Mighty Igor (1931-2002)

  

Real NameRichard Joseph “Dick” Garza
Lifespan7/16/1931 - 1/7/2002

6’1” 265 lbs. - Dearborn, MI


Athletic BackgroundBodybuilding [Mr. Michigan - `54]

Teacher(s)Bert Ruby, Jack Britton, Harry Light

AliasesDick Garza, Great Igor, Igor Vodik, Johnny Bruce, Mighty Igor Vodik

Peak Years`65-`78


Place in HistoryThe character was simple, yet effective.  A big-muscled, big-hearted Polishman who neither dressed like nor acted like a pro-wrestler was a favorite among children.  The Mighty Igor could do feats of strength and walk around with teddy bears or toys and become a tremendous babyface.   Dick Garza was a bodybuilder who achieved great success in the 1950s in his home state of Michigan and is said to have competed at the national level.  He broke in after allegedly punching out Brute Bernard during an altercation at a gym.  He worked around Michigan, Ohio and out in California before hooking up with Ivan Kalmikoff.  Together they developed the character of Mighty Igor Vodik, a simpleton with superhuman strength.  Despite years of being a Russian heel, Kalimikoff remade himself as a gentleman who took care of his physically imposing, but mentally lacking charge.  He orchestrated other demonstrations of Igor’s power including smashing blocks over Igor’s head, multi-man tugs-of-war, bending bars and breaking chains.  The duo were a hit in the Upper Midwest, where there was a sizable number of Polish folks who loved the kielbasa-waving, polka-dancing good guy.  Igor and Ivan joined the IWA and enjoyed some success, feuding with Bulldog Brower, before the company’s decline.  Jim Crockett Promotions brought him in and it was there that he had his best remembered feud with the Masked Superstar and Boris Malenko, including him being nearly blinded by a lit cigar.  Around this time, Ivan Putski began using a similar gimmick.  Putski was not better, but he had some opportunities that Igor, particularly for the WWWF, and became more famous.  Although the Mighty Igor played a simple-minded character, in reality, he was a sharp businessman who was able to invest in the stock market.  Igor worked into his fifties, maintaining a solid build and able to work his gimmick in the greater Detroit-Toronto area and Puerto Rico.


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