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Orville Brown (1908-1981)

Real NameOrville Brown

Lifespan -3/8/1908 - 1/24/1981

6’1” 250 lbs. - Wallace, KS

Athletic BackgroundFootball, Rodeo

Teacher(s)Ernest Brown; George Zaharias


Peak Years1940s

Place in HistoryOrville Brown will always have a small place in pro-wrestling history as the first recognized World Champion of the National Wrestling Alliance, however his role in the formation and early development of that organization are much more significant.  Brown was a big farm boy who grew up outside Wichita.  His story is almost stereotypical.  He was an orphan who was physically impressive and naturally athletic, but left school and found himself with a young family, working a variety of jobs as the Great Depression was rolling into the Midwest.  Brown was often a farm hand, but he became a legendary rodeo competitor who famously bulldogged a buffalo and set a world record for a 4.8 second bulldog on a steer.  He caught the eye of a wrestler who showed him the ropes and then the struck out on his own.  Orville Brown returned home a polished performer and was soon the top star in the Midwest.  His persona of a wholesome cowboy-wrestler got over with the fans of the era.  In the ring, he was not only powerful, but athletic as well and his style was a perfect combination of Midwestern grappling and a East Coast theatrics.  Not only was Brown an excellent talent and strong draw as a babyface, but he was good booker who helped build his towns.  At that point in history, the country was fragmented with various world title claimants.  Orville Brown with the support of Pinkie George and others became the NWA Champion and began working to expand, consolidate and legitimize the title and organization.  He worked throughout the Midwest and West leading up to a unification match with National Wrestling Association champion Lou Thesz.  Tragically, a car crash left Orville Brown unable to ever compete again weeks before the bout.  Thesz inherited the title and continued the work of Brown and became one of the most well-respected NWA Champions as he toured the world.  Brown continued behind the scenes.  He had been a successfully booker and his alliance with George led to a power struggle between them and George Simpson, Gust Karras and others.  The NWA was growing rapidly and Pinkie George resigned with Orville Brown following suit soon after.  Brown lived out his days removed from the business that he helped create.  As time has passed, the legacy of Orville Brown has been deteriorated.  There is no footage to reveal his in-ring skills; his successor, Lou Thesz, inherited his achievements to a degree; his departure from the scene meant his story was lost as his colleagues died off; and he simply does not fit nicely into the story of pro-wrestling despite his amazing true life story.