The death of Chief Jay Strongbow on April 3 will no doubt set off some memories of long-lost wrestling fans who watched him in the WWF in the 1980s (and the WWWF in ‘70s).
Strongbow — who was actually Italian — became synonymous with the WWF due to his tenure there. Many of us who grew up in the ‘80s best remember him for his tag team with “brother” Jules Strongbow, and the duo won the WWF Tag Team Title twice. I’ve written earlier about the stand-in the Strongbows did during an edition of Championship Wrestling as a protest to not getting a rematch from new champs Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito.
Unbelievably, Strongbow actually held the tag titles a decade earlier, too, with Sonny King. Later, in 1976, Strongbow again captured tag team gold, this time with Billy White Wolf, another guy pretending to be Indian who later gained more fame as Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissy (a.k.a., General Adnan, who managed Sgt. Slaughter during Slaughter’s Iraqi sympathizer phase).
Strongbow also had a well-known feud with a young Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, who purportedly broke the chief’s leg, leading up to a bloody Indian strap match at Madison Square Garden in July 1979. There’s actually a crazy scene during that match when a fan grabs a folding chair from Valentine outside the ring, leading to Valentine swinging at the guy momentarily.
Long-time Boston fans have a special thing to thank Strongbow for. One day, jobber Pete Doherty from Dorchester, MA, strolled into an arena late, prompting Strongbow to say, “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the friggin’ Duke of Dorchester. It’s about time you got here.” And that name sticks with Doherty to this day.
So long, Chief Jay.