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Jimmy Valiant was born in Franklin County, Tennessee, near Tullahoma as the youngest of five children of James and Effie Fanning. He later incorporated the names of his four sisters – Louise, Christine, Charlena and Patrica – into the spider web tattoo on his upper arm.
He later moved to Willingboro Township, New Jersey. He married Clara, with whom he fathered three children: Robin, Rhonda, and Dana. With Felicia, he has his youngest son Handsome. He is now married to Angel. He has 6 grandchildren: Lonna, Jenae, Beau, Chassie, Clarissa, and Delilah.
Fanning started wrestling in 1964 as Big Jim Vallen. He went to the World Wide Wrestling Federation in the 1970s as Handsome Jimmy Valiant and formed a team with Johnny Valiant that would dominate the tag team scene for a while as WWWF Tag Team champions. At one point in the AWA, they were managed by Bobby Heenan.
Valiant had entered the WWWF as a babyface, but quickly switched to heel. He had title matches against champion Pedro Morales in secondary arenas, such as Philadelphia, and feuded with short-term tag partner Chief Jay Strongbow. Jimmy and "brother" Johnny held the tag belts as noted above, and main evented Madison Square Garden against Chief Jay Strongbow and Bruno Sammartino (Strongbow and Sammartino won 2 out of 3 falls, but one fall via disqualification; hence the belts didn't pass).
During the late 1970s – early 1980s, Valiant was a central player in the Memphis, Tennessee wrestling scene. He feuded regularly with Jerry Lawler and teamed with Bill Dundee to dominate the tag team matches of that time. He even recorded a song, "The Ballad of Handsome Jimmy" that began, "I've been rolling into Mempho ... TWA ... [T]ell all the women Handsome Jimmy's on the way..." The song was used in wrestling arenas as his entry music, and it became a mainstay on some Memphis radio stations for a few years. Despite the Memphis promotion desperately wanting to keep him in Memphis full-time, even offering to buy him a house in Memphis according to Jerry Lawler's biography, Valiant decided to move on after holding the AWA Southern Heavyweight title for roughly a year. Valiant also spent a brief amount of time in Jim Crockett Promotions in the late 1970s as the heel King James Valiant managed by Lord Alfred Hayes.
In the early 1980s, Valiant returned as a babyface to NWA's Jim Crockett Promotions as "Boogie Woogie Man" Jimmy Valiant and called his fans "The Street People". His theme music around this time was "Boy From New York City", by The Manhattan Transfer. While in Jim Crockett Promotions, he would sometimes appear in a black bandit-style mask and call himself "Charlie Brown from Outta Town." This usually occurred when Valiant was (in kayfabe) "banned" from wrestling. "Charlie Brown" was billed as someone other than Valiant, despite "Brown" having Valiant's legendarily prodigious beard.
January 1984, Valiant was attacked by Paul Jones and The Assassins. They tied him to the wrestling ring ropes do Jones could cut his beard off. This led to a grudge match (with hyped supershow called 'Boogie Man Jam '84' in Greensboro, North Carolina. For this match Dusty Rhodes in Valiant's corner was tied by a rope to Paul Paul Jones. Valiant defeated Assassin II, who was unmasked and revealed as Hercules Hernandez. Due to the beard cutting attack Paul Jones, he feuded heavily with Paul Jones and his "Army" of wrestlers, from 1984 thru late 1986. This army of wrestlers included The Barbarian, Baron Von Raschke, Teijho Khan, and The Assassins. During this three-year feud, Valiant received help from Héctor Guerrero and "Raging Bull" Manny Fernandez. Although Jimmy Valiant would lose a Loser Leaves Town Tuxedo Street Fight to Paul Jones at Starrcade 1984 in Greensboro, North Carolina the feud with many of Paul Jones stable which would come to include Abdullah The Butcher. In 1985, Valiant and Ragin Bull Manny Fernandez formed a team called B and B Connection ("Boogie Woogie" and "Bull"), Junkyard Dog, In the spring of 1986 Pez Whatley turned on Valiant shaved his head and joined Jones' Army as Shaska Whatley.
During the Great American Bash 1986 summer shows Paul Jones adopted a military style look in his long feud with Valiant and labeled his stable of wrestlers The Army. Valiant would beat Shaska Whatley in a hair vs hair match but with outside interference lost a hair vs hair match to Paul Jones only weeks later. In the fall of 1986, The Ragin Bull Manny Fernandez, Valiant's best friend accepted Jones' money and turned on Valiant starting a feud between the two. Paul Jones at this point shortened his army to his newly acquired tag team of Ragin Bull and Rick Rude. The war between Valiant and Paul Jones climaxed at Starrcade 1986 with Valiant putting up the hair of Big Mama against the hair of Paul Jones in a No DQ Match which Valiant won (while the Ragin Bull was placed in a cage above the ring).
In the late 1980s, he teamed with Hector Guerrero (then masked as Laser Tron) and Bugsy McGraw and feuded with The New Breed. When Jim Crockett Promotions became WCW, Valiant left and returned to Memphis to wrestle in the USWA.
Since then, Valiant has primarily wrestled in the independents and managed to wrestle in five decades, his ostensibly last match prior to retirement occurring on January 29, 2005 at WrestleReunion. He is now officially retired from active competition in the sport and enjoys his time with his wife Angel and training wrestlers at Boogie's Wrestling Camp located in Shawsville, Virginia. However, Valiant recently wrestled on November 25, 2012 with The Ragin' Bull Manny Fernandez as his tag team partner in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Jimmy currently wrestles under the ACW Banner (American Championship Wrestling) around the Roanoke Virginia Area . He has also recently wrestled with George South, Stan Lee and Ricky Morton in ASW Wrestling and New OCW in Ashland, KY with Matty B and Violet Rayne against Beau and Misty James and Scotty Ace.
Valiant remains in the wrestling world today with continuing to appear at independent shows signing autographs while his students appear In a few matches on the card.
He keeps in touch with fans through his official Weebly website. In 2014 a 2 disc DVD set will be available chronicling his 50 years in professional wrestling.
Most recently, Valiant lent his name to a forward for a fiction novel called “Only The Beginning” It is a book set in the 1980s about a girl's life during high school. While the book is not wrestling related, the author Jason Strecker is a personal friend of Valiant's and in the forward Valiant responds to his friendship with the author along with the book's message of being of strong character and doing positive actions for others. The book also has a forward by Nikolai Volkoff .
"Woo...Mercy Daddy!" Welcome to My World The Jimmy Valiant Story
- Finishing and signature moves
- Flying Elbow
- Tag teams and stables
- Wrestlers trained
Championships and accomplishments
- American Wrestling Association
- NWA World Television Champion (4 times)
- NWA Mid-America/Continental Wrestling Association
- CWA Tag Team Championship (3 times) - with Bill Dundee (2) and Don Carson (1)
- NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Memphis version) (1 time)