To preserve a piece of wrestling history for the Championship Wrestling from Florida Wall of Fame at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, a super fan fest fundraiser is 6:30 p.m. EST Thursday, June 11 at the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation in North Tampa.
The wrestlers featured at the fan fest fundraiser include a Who’s Who of talent -- past and present -- including former Florida tag team champ Bob Cook.
Cook said via Facebook that his first match for CWF occurred on May 25, 1986 against Jerry Grey at the Orlando Eddie Graham Sports Complex.
Cook also worked with Tyree Pride, Lex Luger, Chris Champion, Mark Starr, Sean Royal, Ron Simmons, Kevin Sullivan, Bugsy McGraw, Scott Hall, The Fabulous One (Steve Keirn and Stan Lane), The Southern Boy Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong and Mike Graham just to name a few. He also had the honor of teaming with Dory Funk Jr.
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Cook said: “As for what it was all like -- awesome -- some of the best times of my life. Loved it.”
Interesting, Cook wrestled his first CWF match against Jerry Grey, and later they teamed to win the Florida tag team titles from Mike Graham and Steve Keirn in Tampa.
Cook said: “When Jerry and I were tag champs, we wore masks and were called The Mighty Yankees.”
Joining The Mighty Yankee at the fan fest are Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, Rocky Johnson, Roman Reigns, Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk, Kofi Kingston, Kevin Sullivan, Sheamus, Jerry Brisco, Steve Keirn, Brian Blair, Dean and Joe Malenko, Robert and Ron Fuller, Danny Miller, Paul Orndorff, Greg Valentine, Ricky Steamboat, Ron Bass, Hector Guerrero, Brutus The Barber Beefcake, J.J. Dillon, Tiger Conway Jr., Bugsy McGraw, Fred Ottman (a/k/a Big Steel Man, Shockmaster, Tugboat, Typhoon), Natalya Neidhart, Tyson Kidd and more.
About the fan fest
Long before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Lightning or Tampa Bay Rays and even before the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Tampa Bay Bandits played in the Big Sombrero, pro wrestling was king in Tampa, drawing huge, raucous crowds to the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, which featured some mega wrestling cards. Steeped in pro wrestling tradition, all the greats wrestled there during the CWF days.
Tampa’s Jody Simon, the son of the late, great Great Malenko, is working with the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation to organize the fan fest fundraiser, commemorating the history of wrestling at the armory, which is being renovated with plans to reopen as a campus of the JCC late next year.
The fan fest will kick off a fund-raising campaign to pay for a permanent display of photos and memorabilia at the new JCC, celebrating Tampa’s and the armory’s wrestling history.
Jack Ross, executive director of the Tampa JCC, said he is proud that the son of a Jewish wrestler is organizing the event. While Simon said there is no shortage of photos, fight programs and memorabilia available for display, Ross indicated that the size and prominence of the display will depend on the amount of funds raised.
While supporting the history of professional wrestling in Florida, join the stars from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11 at the Tampa Jewish Community Center & Federation, 13009 Community Campus Dr., Tampa, Fla. 33625.
Tickets will be $60 adult and $38 children.
For information, call 813-264-9000 and visit
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