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Mike DiBiase (1923-1969)

Real NameMichael DiBiase

Lifespan - 12/24/23 - 7/2/69

6’ 200 lbs. - Omaha, NB

Athletic Background - Wrestling, Track & Field (University of Nebraska); Football (US Navy)

Teacher(s)Adam Krieger

Aliases - none

Peak Years - `59-`67

Place in HistoryA thirteen year pro-wrestling career is not a particularly long one, but “Iron” Mike DiBiase shoehorned about as much into one as a man could in his day.  DiBiase hailed from the wrestling stronghold of Omaha, where he was a stellar amateur.  After serving in the Navy during World War II, DiBiase attended the University of Nebraska.  He won both three Big Seven Championships and an AAU championships as a heavyweight and also represented the Cornhuskers in the NCAA Championship (losing to the great Dick Hutton).  In 1950, DiBiase went pro and was pushed strongly due to his amateur credentials.  He worked for the Duseks in Omaha and Tony Stecher in Minneapolis and was allowed to cut his teeth against most of the Dusek Brothers, Verne Gagne and even Gorgeous George.  He next headed West to work on top for Mike London, he battled the likes of Danny Plechas and Reggie Lisowski (who went on to fame as the Crusher).  DiBiase was gaining some notoriety as was the perfect type of talent for Doc Sarpolis and Wally Karbo’s Amarillo territory.  West Texas was notorious for the long drives and tough crowds, but the area had some real talent.  Art Neilson, Bob Geigel, Ricky Romero and, of course, Dory Funk were among the stars of the area that DiBiase worked.  He became the prototypical wrestling heel.  He had and could demonstrate great skill in the ring and yet he chose to use dirty tricks to gain an advantage; it was instant heat with the fans.  DiBiase and Funk became tremendous rivals, having matches that were arduous, bloody battles.  It in the midst of his peak that Mike DiBiase married Helen Hilde and adopted her son Teddy.  Although he treated the boy like his own, Mike never trained him in professional wrestling and yet Ted DiBiase went on to eclipse his father in both skill and fame in the pro-wrestling world; his three sons also went on to become pro-wrestlers as well.  For all of his titles and feuds, the most famous event in his career was when he mixed it up with the legendary boxer Archie Moore.  Moore had met and knocked out Dizzy Davis a few years prior and promoters thought the aging, but popular boxer against the hated Mike DiBiase had real box office appeal.  They met in Phoenix and DiBiase lasted three rounds with one of the greatest boxers of all-time before succumbing to a knockout punch in what was Archie Moore’s final bout.  The spectacle did not draw well, but was referenced in tributes to the boxer after his death in 1997.  DiBiase spent much of the 1960s on the road, often moving his new family with him.  As the decade came to close, he was looking to settle in Amarillo, open a pizzeria and wrap up his career.  On July 2, 1969, Mike DiBiase suffered a massive heart attack during a match and passed away.  It was a tragic end for “Iron” Mike DiBiase, a man who built a career on his strength and hardwork.