He was the wildest, most unpredictable man in the history of professional wrestling. Surrounded by controversy in life, he was even more shrouded in controversy in death.
Real Name: Frank Goodish
Stats: 6′ 8″ 325 lbs.
Born: June14, 1946
By Steve Slagle
Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish was one of the wildest, most insane, and most impersonated men ever to step in the ring. The 6`8 325 lb. New Mexican wildman, with long curly black hair, scraggly beard and furry boots brawled with such reckless abandon and fury that he is a true legend in every country he performed in. His style and image have been emulated more times than can be counted, which is more a tribute to his originality and uniqueness than blatant copying. It can be argued that Bruiser Brody is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, brawlers the sport has ever known. His story, unfortunately, is also one of wrestling’s most tragic…
Frank Goodish was born in 1946 in Pennsylvania, moved to New Mexico during his youth, and started his career as “Bruiser” Frank Brody in 1973. BIg and talented, by September of 1974, Brody had won his first championship — the NWA U.S. (Tri-State version) Tag team titles with Stan Hansen. This was the beginning of what would be, from that point forward, a life-long friendship between the two brawlers. By 1975, after only a couple of years as a wrestler under his belt, Brody was in main event title matches with the legendary WWWF champion Bruno Sammartino…not bad for only 2 years in the sport!
Among other tournaments and championships, Brody won the NWA Western States title in 1975, the Florida Heavyweight title, 4 NWA North American titles, 3 Texas Tag Team titles between 1977-79, the Texas Heavyweight title, the Texas Brass Knuckles title, 4 American Tag Team titles (3 w/Kerry Von Erich, 1 w/Ernie Ladd), the Central States Tag Team title (w/Ladd) and the Central States Heavyweight title in 1980. He also garnered 3 NWA International Heavyweight titles between 1981-1988, the Australian World Brass Knuckles title, the World Wrestling Association World Heavyweight title, the PWF Tag Team titles (w/Hansen), the WCCW TV title in 1986, and the last title he would ever hold, the NWF International Heavyweight title in 1987.
Brody wrestled with such unpredictability and force…he was “banned” from a couple of promotions for wildly swinging chairs and chains at anyone unfortunate enough to get too close to him — including the fans at ringside! Behind the scenes, Brody was even more unpredictable than he was in the ring, and he was known to frequently ignore the orders of management and occasionally leave promoters in some very awkward situations. Yet despite (or perhaps, because of) the controversy he created, Brody was an instant success in Japan, and has been considered a “wrestling God” there since his Japanese debut in a tag match with (King) Curtis Iukea vs. Giant Baba and The Masked Destroyer in January of 1979.
During his 15 years in the sport, Brody wrestled both as a hated villain and a loved hero, and he feuded with the best in the sport during his time in the ring…Dick The Bruiser (for the right to the name “Bruiser”, which he lost, creating the need for his other nickname, “King Kong”), Bruno Sammartino, the Funks, Ric Flair, Abdullah the Butcher, the Von Erich Family, Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, Harley Race, and many more. However, one of his most memorable feuds was against the mammoth Andre the Giant. At 6`8 and over 320 lbs., Brody was a legitimate physical challenge for Andre, and he gave the Giant some of the toughest matches of his career during their on-again, off-again 10-year feud.
As was the case everywhere he wrestled, Bruiser Brody was one of the biggest stars/draws in the Puerto Rican-based World Wrestling Council. He had legendary feuds/matches there with Abdullah and Carlos Colon (pictured, left). But his feud with the Masked Invader (Jose Gonzalez, co-owner of WWC) proved to be the last of his career.
On July 17, 1988, Frank Goodish a.k.a. Bruiser Brody was murdered in a Puerto Rican locker room, the victim of several stab wounds to the stomach. Jose Gonzalez was charged with the murder, to which there were several eye witnesses. The news of Brody’s murder sent shockwaves through the world of wrestling, and everyone wanted to know just why someone would murder the generally well-liked Brody. Fellow wrestler Tony Atlas witnessed the murder take place while in the same locker room, and he became a key element in the subsequent trial. In a statement to police at the time, Atlas told the authorities that Gonzalez had approached Brody (after a series of real-life confrontations between Brody and Gonzalez, some of which spilled over into the wrestling ring) in the shower with a long, concealed hunting knife and stabbed Goodish in the torso several times. Atlas also stated that Gonzalez attempted to slit Brody’s throat. Atlas would refuse to testify at the trial though, and Gonzalez was eventually acquitted. Brody’s family attorney was quoted at the time saying that Atlas refused extradition (he was allowed to do so on a technicality) and that the case had depended entirely on his testimony. In other words, without Atlas, Goodish’s legal team had no case.
Unlike in the United States, the jury in a Puerto Rican murder case does not have to come to a unanimous decision, and whichever way the majority of the jury votes is how the verdict is rendered. Although Puerto Rican law came to a different conclusion, most familiar with the case believe Brody’s murderer walked away a free man. The World Wrestling Council, once a wrestling hot-bed, all but disappeared after the negative publicity and devastating loss of American talent who refused to work in Puerto Rico after Brody’s murder. But the loss of the WWC pales in comparison to the loss the sport suffered when Frank Goodish died. Wrestling lost a true legend on that steamy August night, the likes of which we may never see again…
The Ring Chronicle posthumously inducts Frank “Bruiser Brody” Goodish, wrestling wildman and innovator, into T.R.C.’s Hall of Fame…