Former NCAA and NWA Champion Jack Brisco Dies
Brisco had been dealing with health issues for the past few years which included emphysema. Just a few weeks ago, he visited with his doctor and was told he needed heart surgery. He then underwent triple bypass surgery and had been living in a rehab center.
"He was terrific," said former NWA World Champion Dory Funk, Jr. "I knew him well as a person and a wrestler. There was nothing I enjoyed better than being in the ring with Jack. He brought so much credibility to wrestling. He was the champion for everybody."
"He loved professional wrestling and was proud of his career but he never let it define who he was," said close friend Mark Nulty. "He was just a special guy."
Brisco became a wrestling fan at a very early age and aspired to become a professional wrestler. While growing up, he began amateur wrestling and quickly excelled at the sport. He moved on to become a four-time Oklahoma high school champion and went undefeated.
At that point, Brisco decided to leave college and went into professional wrestling. On that stage, he became one of the best technical wrestlers the business has ever seen. His rivalry with Dory Funk, Jr. in the early 1970s is considered one of the best, pure in-ring series of matches that wrestling has ever seen.
"He was the ideal opponent for me and we wrestled over 400 times in about four years," remembered Funk. "He was a super athlete and a super nice guy. Everything that happened between him and me in the ring was terrific and a pleasure."
On July 20, 1973, he reached the top of the mountain when he defeated Harley Race to become the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, a title he held until December 10, 1975 when he lost to Terry Funk.
"He was probably the smoothest wrestler of his era," explained Nulty, who is also a wrestling historian and operates the Web site WrestlingClassics.com. "He was just a smooth athlete. There was nothing that he couldn't do."
Brisco also held multiple tag-team championships while teaming with his brother Gerald who most notably feuded with the brother combination of Terry and Dory Funk, Jr.
While still a very good in-ring performer in 1984, Brisco was tired of the grueling schedule and retired from wrestling at the age of 42. He stayed true to his word and never returned to the squared circle.
"He was the most self-assured person of accomplishment that I've ever met," said Nulty. "He had no desire or no need to tell anybody who he was or what he had accomplished. He was the most comfortable person to live in his own skin that I've even seen."
Jack along with his brother Gerald were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class in 2008.
"I think Jack Brisco's career itself is an example for young wrestlers to follow," says Funk. "He's nothing but a shining example for young athletes to watch."