Real Name: Eddie Gossett
Stats: 5'10" 230 lbs.
Although his name might not be familiar to
many younger wrestling fans today, Eddie Graham's importance
and legacy in wrestling can not be denied. Whether as an elite
superstar during wrestling's "Golden Era" in the 1950's
and early 1960's as a key member of the legendary "Golden
Graham" wrestling "family" or as owner/operator
of Florida Champion-ship Wrestling throughout the 1970's & 1980's
(which was perhaps the most respected and prestigious of all
the many great N.W.A. regional territories), as one of wrestling's
best business minds and trainers, or because of his career-long
support of amateur wrestl-ing and local charity -- Eddie Graham
was universally known as a true credit to the profession...
He made his wrestling debut 1947 at the age
of 17 in Chattanooga, and was paid off, according to Graham himself,
with a 25lb. turkey! He worked hard at his new profession and
slowly rose in the ranks, and eventually got a big break in the
form of a wrestling "family".
Along with "brother" Dr. Jerry
Graham, the duo became the #1 tag team all along the East Coast
(in Boston, New York, Washington DC, and other territories that
would later become the WWF) and a huge box office and television
attraction. The young, muscular and supremely talented "Golden" Graham
(who's real name was Eddie Gossett) was one of wrestling's elite
superstars and the Graham Bros. wore the much sought after United
States Tag Team title belts in 1958, 1959 and twice in 1960.
Graham also had a fair share of success with his other "brother," Luke
With the start of the 1960's Eddie Graham
traveled to Florida, forever changing wrestling in the Sunshine
State for the better. He won the N.W.A. World Tag Team title
Tag Team title 7 times between 1961-1967, with partners like
Bob Orton, Sr., Sam Steamboat and Ike Eakins. He also dominated
wrestling in the southeast as the N.W.A. Southern Heavyweight
champion twice in 1962 and again in 1963.
But a freak accident in a locker room in 1968
nearly ended his career, and took him out of action for 15 months.
While lacing his boots, a 75lb. steel window fell on Graham's
head, and Graham (who was already partially blind in one eye)
suffered torn retinas in both eyes and 300 stitches worth of
damage to his face and head. The injury was a major setback for
the popular Graham, although he was eventually awarded over $23,000
in damages by the Florida State Legislature.
Eddie Graham's civic duties outside of the
ring truly made him an asset to the sport. His relentless pursuit
of establishing amateur wrestling camps (Graham was personally
responsible for getting amateur wrestling into Florida high schools,
he established a $500 Wrestling Scholarship for the University
Of Tampa, donated $10,000 to the University Of Florida in 1978
to create a wrestling room and many other contributions to the
sport) and his work with youth groups brought him many honors
from various civic groups.
In 1963, P.A.L. gave him its Achievement Award.
In 1970, The Boys Club honored him with its Man-Boy Award and
in 1978 the Tampa Sports Club made Eddie Graham its Sports Citizen
of The Year for his many contributions to Florida amateur wrestling.
In 1980 Sen. Richard Stone awarded Graham an American flag that
had flown over the White House, and proceeds from an "Eddie
Graham Happy Birthday Roast" went to the Leukemia Fund.
The Florida Sheriff's Boys Ranch, which was a major project of
his, also honored him in 1982.
Graham once told a newspaper "When I
was a kid I peddled newspapers in Chattanooga. You know, a kid
can get into alot of trouble on the street. The newspaper gave
us all memberships to the YMCA. It was a gift, otherwise I wouldn't
have had the money to go. That's the way I became an athlete,
and it was where I had my first encounter with wrestling. God
gave me a decent enough body to be an athlete that put me in
the public eye. Not only do I have an obligation to my family,
but also to my community. I feel like I can influence young people."
In the early 1970's he introduced his son
Mike Graham to the world, and the father/son duo went on to gain
tremendous success. They won many tag team championships in the
early and mid 1970's, including the Georgia and Florida Tag Team
Graham was 55 when he died from a self inflicted
gunshot to the head, on Super Bowl Sunday, January 20th 1985.