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Jim Bernard (June 6, 1921 - July 14, 1984) was a Canadian professional wrestler. He is best known by his ring name, Brute Bernard, and spent much of his career wrestling as part of a tag team with Skull Murphy. He competed for several wrestling promotions associated with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He also worked for the Australia-based World Championship Wrestling (WCW) as well as the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). He died of a self-inflicted gunshot in 1984.
Bernard was discovered by wrestling promoter Jack Britton, who convinced him to become a wrestler. He made his debut in 1957, competing in Ontario. He initially wrestled under his real name, but he later took on the name Brute Bernard. He also competed as in Detroit for a promotion run by Ed Farhat. He teamed up with fellow Canadian wrestler Skull Murphy throughout the 1960s. Their first championship came on May 16, 1963, when they won the WWWF United States Tag Team Championship. They held the title belts for almost six months before dropping them to Killer Kowalski and Gorilla Monsoon on November 14. They then began competing for Championship Wrestling from Florida, an NWA territory. They participated in a tag team tournament and won the vacant Florida version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship in 1964. Bernard and Murphy feuded with Hiro Matsuda and Duke Keomurka over the belts and traded the belts back and forth before losing them to Matsusa and Keomurka for good. Bernard and Murphy worked for World Championship Wrestling in 1966, where they won the IWA World Tag Team Championship twice.
Murphy remained in Australia, while Bernard returned to the United States to compete for World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas. He defeated Fritz Von Erich, patriarch of the Von Erich family for the Texas version of the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship in March 1967. That year, he had four more title reigns, as he won the NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Championship twice and teamed with his manager Mike Paidousis to win the NWA American Tag Team Championship twice.
Bernard and Murphy reunited in Australia, where they won the IWA World Tag Team Championship twice more in 1968 and 1969. They also competed for Jim Crockett Promotions in the Carolinas, where they participated in a series of "battle of the bullies" matches. These bouts went against the tradition of having faces (fan favorites) competing against heels (villains), as Bernard and Murphy competed against fellow heels the Blond Bombers (Swede Hanson and Rip Hawk).
Murphy died of an apparent suicide on March 23, 1970. Bernard took on a new partner, Larry Hamilton, and the pair won the NWA Atlantic Coast Tag Team Championship in October 1971. They also competed in Texas, where they won the NWA American Tag Team Championship.
Bernard continued to wrestle in Australia and won the NWA Austra-Asian Heavyweight Championship by defeating Spiros Arion on November 4, 1972. He held the belt for three weeks before dropping it back to Arion. He also won the country's World Brass Knuckles Championship twice. Back in Jim Crockett Promotions, he formed a tag team with Jay York. They had rivalries with the team of George Scott and Nelson Royal as well as the Anderson family (Gene and Ole). Bernard and York were managed by Beauregarde, who also teamed with them in six-man matches. Bernard and York won the NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship by defeating Scott and Royal on November 26, 1973 but lost the belts to the Andersons one month later.
Bernard wrestled for several promotions in his final years as a wrestler. He returned to Detroit, where he competed as The Brute. He also teamed with Frank Morrell in Texas to win the NWA Western States Tag Team Championship in 1977. He returned to the Carolinas and wrestled for Jim Crockett Promotions until he was released due to his age. He continued to wrestle occasionally; in his final match, he refused to go along with the scripted finish. The referee, Dave Routh, declared the result a double countout. Bernard got upset in the locker room and attacked Routh. He broke Routh's nose and was fired as a result.
Bernard was married to female professional wrestler Betty Joe Hawkins. He died in 1984 of a self-inflicted gunshot; it was not determined if his death was a suicide or an accident. One story states that Bernard was playing Russian roulette.
- Finishing moves
Championships and accomplishments
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- NWA Big Time Wrestling
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- World Wide Wrestling Federation
- Other titles
- World Brass Knuckles Championship (Australia version) (2 times)