For long-time wrestling fans in Massachusetts, the death of Blackjack Mulligan brings up an incident 45 years ago at the old Boston Garden that has lived in infamy since then.
Video tribute to Blackjack Mulligan released by Highspots.com, via Youtube
On May 15, 1971, Mulligan challenged new WWWF Heavyweight Champion Pedro Morales. During the bout, a fan jumped into the ring and stabbed Mulligan in the leg with a knife, opening a huge wound. The attack was chronicled back in 2004 in the Boston Globe.
Towels on Mulligan’s wounds quickly reddened as he was carried from the ring to receive 100 stitches at the hospital.” — Boston Globe
As a result of that incident, well into the 1980s, it was common for even kids to be patted down by police upon entering the Garden for house shows, and the ring often had four cops stationed around it all times.
Mulligan died on April 7 at age 73 after years of health-related problems. Mulligan — whose real name was Bob Windham — was the patriarch of a wrestling family that includes his sons, the great Barry Windham (a.k.a., the Widowmaker, a cool gimmick that flopped in the WWF in 1989) and Kendall Windham.
Barry Windham’s long-time tag partner, Mike Rotundo, is Mulligan’s son-in-law, and Rotundo’s two sons are Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, thus the grandsons of Blackjack.
Mulligan was a huge Texan who had success in many wrestling promotions. He challenged Morales around the WWWF circuit for the World Title in 1971, managed by the Grand Wizard. In 1975, he and Blackjack Lanza briefly became WWWF Tag Team Champions managed by Captain Lou Albano.
Within the WWF in the early 1980s, he was most well known as a heel for battling Andre the Giant. Mulligan wore a fingerless leather glove on his right hand, and during prelim matches would apply his finisher, the clawhold, to an opponent’s head, often drawing blood.
As a gimmick, the WWF’s Saturday morning syndicated show would put a big red “X” across the screen so that viewers couldn’t see the carnage Mulligan created.
Later, Mulligan became a babyface, hosting Blackjack’s BBQ, a poor takeoff of Piper’s Pit. He also donned a mask for a short time in 1986 to become Big Machine, ironically teaming with Andre, who was Giant Machine.
He wrapped up his WWF days in the late ’80s, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame with Lanza.
There were dark times for Mulligan, too. In the early 1990s, Mulligan served time in federal prison with Kendall Windham for counterfeiting after Mulligan ran into real estate tax problems.
At his peak, Mulligan portrayed the image of a big, tough Texan better than most, and his size worked to his advantage in the WWF.