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Douglas A. Baker (April 19, 1934 – October 20, 2014), known by his ring name Ox Baker, was an American former professional wrestler and actor. He has appeared in several movies including playing the role of the Russian wrestler in Blood Circus and Escape from New York. Baker became well known for his finishing move the heart punch, which he used to call the "hurt punch", after his famous catchphrase "I love to hurt people!" Coincidentally Alberto Torres and Ray Gunkel both died after matches with Baker. Both times the heart punch was blamed, but this was just storyline. In fact Torres died of a ruptured appendix and Gunkel of a heart attack. Baker also wrote a cookbook in which he tells stories of his wrestling colleagues and how they ate while on the road.
Baker, the oldest of five siblings, began as an amateur high school wrestler, boxer and football player in his adopted hometown of Waterloo, Iowa in 1962 before getting thrown out of school. He also played football for two years in the armed forces.
Professional wrestling career
In the early 1960s Baker approached Kansas City, Missouri promoters about wrestling and was paid $300 for his first night. Following that night he went into training with Buddy "Killer" Austin, Pat O'Connor, and Bob Geigel. A couple of years later he was ready, standing 6'5" and weighing 342 pounds (hence the nickname "Ox"). He began his wrestling career by defeating Frank Hickey in Kansas City, and later the Missouri Mauler as well. As time went on he was winning a majority of his matches by knock out caused by the Heart Punch; he later renamed the move the Hurt Punch after Stan Stasiak, from who Baker adopted the move, objected. Initially debuting as a kind, horn-rimmed glasses wearing, country simpleton, Baker later turned into a villain, known for his unique look with his shaved head and dark black bushy mustache and eyebrows and ability to cut a promo.
In 1967 Baker had worked for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) as The Friendly Arkansas Ox. In his first appearance there, Baker teamed with Armand Hussein (whom Ox traveled with) in a handicap match versus Gorilla Monsoon. Later on Baker went to fight in different promotions through North America, including Stampede Wrestling and the American Wrestling Association throughout the 1970s. He had a brief run in the WWWF in 1980. In his career he would defeat "Cowboy" Bob Ellis for the World Wrestling Association belt in Dick The Bruiser's Indianapolis territory, he would also defeat Carlos Colon for the WWC World Title in Puerto Rico. Baker was a multi-time Tag Team Champion; he has teamed with the likes of Ole Anderson and Skandor Akbar to capture Tag Team Championships in the NWA and NWF. Baker teamed with Big John Studd (then known as Chuck O' Connor) to win the WWA Tag Team Title in 1976. He also teamed with Superstar Billy Graham to hold the NWA Florida Tag Team Title. Baker would go on to Heart Punch his way through The Sheik to win the Detroit version of the US Heavyweight Title, he also won the World Class Championship and the World Class Texas Title several times. Another memorable Baker feud was with Randy "Macho Man" Savage, in the southern promotion that Savage ran with his father Angelo Poffo and his brother Lanny Poffo. Late in his career, Baker appeared with Central States Wrestling as a face and feuded with Rip Rogers.
On June 13, 1971, Ox and his partner the Claw were wrestling in an AWA Midwest Tag Team Championship tag team match against Alberto Torres and his partner Cowboy Bob Ellis in Verdigre, Nebraska. Torres was injured during the match and died three days later. Though evidence indicated that Torres died of a ruptured appendix, Baker's Heart Punch was blamed and, though by his own account Baker was privately distraught over the death, he did "work" it as though he had killed Torres. On August 1, 1972, in Savannah, Georgia Baker lost to Ray Gunkel. Following the match, Gunkel died in the locker room; his death was attributed to a blood clot, which broke off from a hematoma caused by Baker, which led to a heart attack.
In 1988 Ox returned to professional wrestling for the AWA. Under contract, Ox teamed up with The Russian Brute of ICW fame. The following year he opened "Ox Baker's Wrestling School" becoming a well-renowned trainer. His students include Mark Calaway and Bryan Clark. He also did commentary for some IWCCW events in the early 1990s.
Baker made an appearance in Ring of Honor in 2004 during their At Our Best show, confronting Dusty Rhodes before the show started and again during the main event. Baker also made an appearance in CZW on December 8, 2007, in Philadelphia, during their Cage of Death 9 show. Ox appeared as the guest of Cult Fiction, Halfbreed Billy Gram and Toby Klein, in an interview segment that opened the show. In December 2013, Baker returned to the ring to be crowned the CCW Champion after being a surprise entrant in the 13 man battle royal in Ohio.
Acting career and other media
Baker has worked in movies from time to time, most notably in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as a fighter in Jackie Chan's The Big Brawl and as Kurt Russell's gladiatorial opponent in John Carpenter's Escape From New York as well as the cult classic wrestling film which "borrowed" from his catch phrase...I Like to Hurt People. On February 12, 1981, Baker was a contestant on the game show The Price is Right. He won his way on stage (winning Poker Game) but lost in the Showcase Showdown. In 1985, Ox Baker played the Russian in the wrestling movie "Blood Circus".
In 2005 an extensive documentary on Baker's life and career was filmed, directed by Halfbreed Billy Gram, with the working title of "I Love the People I Hurt-The Life and Legend of the Mighty Ox Baker". Also filmed during this time was a short comedy feature titled "My Smorgasboard with Ox", co-written and co-starring Baker and Gram.
In 2006 the North Carolina-based indie band the Mountain Goats released a song on their Babylon Springs EP titled "Ox Baker Triumphant" in which Baker is betrayed by the wrestling community and rises up to strike vengeance upon them.
In 2011, Baker self-published a cookbook, which included recipes and stories from his time in wrestling.
Baker died on October 20, 2014, he was found dead in his home. He died from cardiovascular disease.
Championships and accomplishments
- NWA Australasian Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with King Kamaka
- Other honoree (2002)
- IWA North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Americas Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Enforcer Luciano
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles version) (1 time) - with Enforcer Luciano
- NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship (1 time)