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Tony Garea

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Anthony Garea (September 20, 1946) is a retired New Zealand professional wrestler, better known by his ring name Tony Garea, who wrestled for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), spending thirty-two of his thirty-five year career in the promotion. After his in-ring retirement, he was signed by World Wrestling Entertainment to be a backstage worker.

Early life

The son of Croatian-born Ivan Gareljich, Anthony Gareljich was born in Auckland, New Zealand to parents of Yugoslavian and Irish descent. He was originally an accomplished sprinter and a rugby player.

Career

Early career

Garea was trained by Wild Don Scott. He made his professional wrestling debut in his native New Zealand. He worked in NWA San Francisco territory where he and Pat Patterson defeated Don Muraco and Invader I for the NWA San Francisco Tag Team Championship in May 1976.

World Wide Wrestling Federation / World Wrestling Federation (1972-1986)

Debut and Early Tag Title Reigns (1972-1979)

Garea left New Zealand in 1972 and went to United States where he signed a contract with Vince McMahon, Sr.'s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). He made his WWWF debut at a TV taping in the Philadelphia Arena on September 20, 1972 as a babyface, defeating Davey O'Hannon. On May 30, 1973, he teamed with Haystacks Calhoun and defeated Mr. Fuji and Professor Toru Tanaka to win his first WWWF World Tag Team Championship. Garea and Calhoun feuded with Fuji and Tanaka for the rest of the summer before losing the titles back to Fuji and Tanaka on September 11.

Garea continued the feud with Fuji and Tanaka with a new partner, Dean Ho. On November 14, Garea and Ho defeated Fuji and Tanaka for Garea's second and Ho's first WWWF World Tag Team Championship. Garea's second tag team reign was longer and better than his first reign. They held the titles for five and a half month before losing them to Valiant Brothers (Jimmy and Johnny) on the May 8, 1974 episode of All Star Wrestling. They continued teaming for a while before disbanding their tag team and working on their own. Garea, who had been successful as a tag team wrestler, began a singles career.

Garea continued his singles career for three years before forming a tag team with new partner Larry Zbyzsko in August 1977. They began teaming after entering a tag team tournament for the vacant tag titles, where they were defeated by Mr. Fuji and Toru Tanaka in the finals on September 27, 1977. They continued to challenge for the titles before defeating The Yukon Lumberjacks (Eric and Pierre) for Garea's third and Zbyzsko's first WWWF World Tag Team Championship on November 21, 1978 edition of Championship Wrestling. They held the titles for four months before losing them to Valiant Brothers (Jerry and Johnny) on March 24, 1979 edition of Championship Wrestling. Later that same month, Wide was dropped from the promotion's name, renaming the promotion World Wrestling Federation.

Teaming with Rick Martel (1980-1982)

Garea continued to wrestle in the tag team division, with another former WWF Tag Team Champion Rene Goulet. The two participated in a tag team tournament for the titles, where they were defeated by Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) in the finals on September 27, 1980. Garea formed a tag team with new partner Rick Martel, which was Garea's most successful and most popular tag team. They defeated Wild Samoans on November 8 for Garea's fourth and Martel's first WWF Tag Team Championship. Garea and Martel continued to feud with the former champions for the rest of the year. After Wild Samoans left WWF, the champions began feuding with Moondogs (King and Rex). They dropped the titles to Moondogs on March 17, 1981 edition of Championship Wrestling.

Martel and Garea continued to feud with Moondogs, trying to regain the titles. On June 8, Garea beat a young rookie named Man Mountain Canyon in Madison Square Garden, who returned to WWF four years later as King Kong Bundy. On July 21 edition of Championship Wrestling, Martel and Garea defeated Moondogs in a rematch to win their second WWF Tag Team Championship as a team, though, it was Garea's fifth and final individual reign. Garea's final run as a tag team champion ended on October 17 edition of Championship Wrestling after Garea and Martel were defeated by Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito for the tag titles. Garea and Martel continued to feud with Fuji and Saito, trying to regain the titles but failed to do so.

Martel left WWF in 1982 while Garea went on his own. Garea teamed with younger wrestlers such as Eddie Gilbert and B. Brian Blair in 1983 and 1984 but was unable to recapture the success he previously enjoyed as a tag-team champion. He moved to the jobber to the stars status, jobbing to rising newcomers before retiring in 1986.

Retirement and Beyond (1986-present)

He was employed as a road agent by WWF, a position he continues to hold to this day. He is still holding the position of road agent. He recently appeared with former tag team partner Rick Martel at Vengeance in June 2007. They came to the aid of the team of Sgt. Slaughter and Jimmy Snuka who were being attacked following their losing effort against Deuce 'n Domino.

When WWE came to New Zealand on 11 June 2008 in Auckland he was a guest on the very first international V.I.P Lounge along with Bushwacker Butch. The segment's host, Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP) announced him as Bushwhacker Luke but then apologized. Eventually, MVP attacked Butch and Garea with the microphone. Butch and Garea recovered and fought off MVP, then celebrated with the Bushwhacker walk. On March 3, 2009 he was featured on WWE.com exclusive segment Top-rope Theater posing as "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.

In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

External links

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