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Jack Barton Adkisson (August 16, 1929 – September 10, 1997) was an American professional wrestler under the ring name Fritz Von Erich, better known today as a wrestling promoter and the patriarch of the Von Erich family. He was also the owner of the World Class Championship Wrestling territory.
Adkisson attended Southern Methodist University, where he threw discus and played football. He was associated in some capacity with the now defunct Dallas Texans of the NFL (not the AFL team which became the Kansas City Chiefs) but did not actually play with them. He then tried the Canadian Football League (CFL).
Professional wrestling career
Early career and training
While in Edmonton, he met legendary wrestler and trainer Stu Hart, and Hart decided to train and book him in his Klondike Wrestling promotion, naming him Fritz Von Erich and teaming him with "brother" Waldo Von Erich as a pair of pseudo-nazi brothers (nazis still being popular villains in 50s and 60s wrestling). Adkisson's oldest son Jack Barton Adkisson, Jr. was born September 21, 1952. He died in 1959, however, after an accidental electrocution, and Jack Sr. stopped traveling to the east coast, allowing former partner Waldo to use the Von Erich name in the World Wide Wrestling Federation.
Despite Jack Jr.'s death, Adkisson continued to travel and wrestle. Adkisson won both versions of the AWA World title in 1963. His major circuit was Sam Muchnick's NWA territorial stronghold in St. Louis, Missouri. He wrestled there until 1967, when he voluntarily left the territory after losing a match for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against then-champion Gene Kiniski. In the late 1960s, with Muchnick's backing, Adkisson became the promoter for the Dallas territory, effectively overseeing the Houston and San Antonio territories, as well.
Adkisson was a part of rebuilding Japanese wrestling after the stabbing death of Rikidōzan. He became a star due to his feuds with Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba, and his "Iron Claw" hold, which became one of the most popular wrestling moves in Japan.
In 1982, he held his first retirement match against King Kong Bundy in the newly renamed World Class Championship Wrestling promotion, based in Dallas. The promotion was known for its high production values, use of entrance music and the use of television syndication. The promotion was one of the most successful territories in the United States, with major draws like his sons, The Fabulous Freebirds, Chris Adams, Abdullah the Butcher, Bruiser Brody, Gino Hernandez and Rick Rude. By the end of the 1980s, the promotion's talent pool was thin and it was eventually merged with Jerry Jarrett's Continental Wrestling Association to create the United States Wrestling Association in 1989.
Adkisson married Doris J. Smith on June 23, 1950. Together, they had six sons: Jack Barton, Jr. (born September 21, 1952), Kevin (born May 15, 1957), David (born July 22, 1958), Kerry (born February 3, 1960), Mike (born March 2, 1964) and Chris (born September 30, 1969). Of Adkisson's six sons, only Kevin is still living. The couple later separated and Doris divorced her husband on July 21, 1992 after 42 years of marriage.
Adkisson died of brain and lung cancer on September 10, 1997. His funeral service was held at the 1st Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. His body was cremated with his ashes interred in the same plot as his fourth son, Kerry.
- Finishing moves
- "Tetsu no Tsume" ("The Iron Claw")
Championships and accomplishments
- Maple Leaf Wrestling
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- NWA Minneapolis Wrestling and Boxing Club / American Wrestling Association
- AWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Minneapolis version) (1 time) - with Hans Hermann
- NWA Western States Sports
- NWA International Tag Team Championship (Amarillo version) (1 time) - with Killer Karl Krupp
- NWA North American Heavyweight Championship (Amarillo version) (4 times)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #207 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Southwest Sports, Inc / NWA Big Time Wrestling / World Class Championship Wrestling
- NWA American Heavyweight Championship (13 times)
- NWA American Tag Team Championship (6 times) - with Waldo Von Erich (1), Billy Red Lyons (1), Grizzly Smith (1), Fred Curry (1), Dan Miller (1), and Dean Ho (1)
- NWA Brass Knuckles Championship (Texas version) (2 times)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Texas version) (3 times)1
- NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship (Texas version) (1 time) - with Kevin & Mike Von Erich
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Texas Version) (2 times) - with Killer Karl Kox (1) and Duke Keomuka (1)
- St. Louis Wrestling Hall Of Fame
- (Class of 2007)
1This championship was later renamed the NWA American Heavyweight Championship in May 1968. It would later be renamed the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship after World Class' withdrawal from the NWA in February 1986.