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Paul Jones (1901-1988)


Real NameAndrew Lutzi (born “Andrew Lutziger”)

Lifespan - 6/23/1901 - 4/17/1988

??? - Lincoln, NB


Athletic BackgroundWrestling

Teacher(s)Farmer Burns, Clarence Eklund

AliasesAndrew Lutze, John Paul Jones

Peak Years - 1920s

Place in HistoryThe National Wrestling Alliance was by and large built by gritty former pro-wrestlers who had turned into ruthless businessmen.  Men who knew the sport and were able to take their vision and make it successful in a regional market.  Although many of these men had initial success, many were edged out by competition or died out due to their inability to adapt.  Paul Jones survived both hardships through his good decisions.  He aligned himself with smart men who turned the promotion he started into the hottest in the country.  Andrew Lutzi was the son of Russian immigrants who pursued wrestling at the local YMCA.  At the time, Nebraska was a hub for amateur wrestling and he was able to learn under legendary hookers Farmer Burns and Clarence Eklund, alongside Pete Sauer (the future Ray Steele) and other hungry young grapplers.  Lutzi relocated to Texas and took the name “Paul Jones,” which he kept for the remainder of his time in pro-wrestling.  Jones met many of the top talent of the 1920s and 1930s, including Joe Stecher, Jim Browning, Dick Shikat, Lou Plummer, Jim Londos and his old friend Ray Steele.  Although he might not be the most notable wrestler of that time period, Paul Jones made some connections that set him up for success as a promoter not unlike Joe Malcewicz, Karl Sarpolis, Cowboy Luttrall and Leroy McGuirk who were all wrestlers-turned-promoters.  In 1933, Jones was involved in a fatal car wreck that impacted his career.  Although he wrestled for many more years, he was never at the same level.  He settled in Houston, working some for Morris Sigel as a referee and did some wrestling, but he set his sights on bigger avenues.  Shortly before the end of World War II, Jones headed to Atlanta to begin promoting.  Pro-wrestling was on the cusp of a boom and Jones needed to do little more than put together the cards.  He joined the NWA and partnered up with some other wrestlers with promotional aspirations; Fred Ward, Don McIntyre, Buddy Fuller and Ray Gunkel all owned pieces of the territory at one point or another.  As time passed, Jones’s influence over the the day-to-day operations lessened, but the Georgia territory was growing under the guidance of Gunkel and booker Leo Garibaldi.  In 1972, Ray Gunkel died and his wife Ann took over his shares of the promotion.  There is a great deal of debate as to what happened after that.  Did Ann Gunkel take all the talent and leave Paul Jones and his partner Lester Welch for dead?  Did Jones and members of the old boys’ network dissolve the office and form a new one just to cut out Ann Gunkel?  Whichever truly happened, the “Battle of Atlanta” is what followed and the state of Georgia was never the same.  Jones aligned with NWA kingpins Eddie Graham, Roy Welch and others to secure the best talent, he brought in Bill Watts to book that talent and eventually Jim Barnett came in to spearhead the promotion.  After two years of fierce competition between the NWA office and Ann Gunkel’s All-South, the establishment won out.  Georgia Championship Wrestling had grown into a powerhouse through those years and in 1976, they were picked up by Ted Turner’s WTCG and were soon being beamed all over.  They picked up momentum steadily and by the early 1980s were arguably the premier pro-wrestling company due to their satellite audience.  By this point though, Paul Jones was largely a figurehead as Barnett wielded the true power and bookers like Ole Anderson, Buck Robley, Robert Fuller and Jerry Jarrett came and went.  In 1984, he was one of several that sold his shares of the office to the WWF.  The move made sense business-wise, but it effectively killed the company that he had been a part of building over the past forty years.  Due to being in the background for so many of the tumultuous events that shaped pro-wrestling in Georgia has reduced Paul Jones legacy in the grand scheme of the sport’s history.  While Jones was the man who took Atlanta and built it up, the focus goes to Ray Gunkel, Buddy Fuller, Lester Welch and Jim Barnett as the true players in the area’s history.


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