Florida 1966 - Introduction

Championship Wrestling from Florida, more commonly known as the Florida territory, operated out of Tampa. The most frequently run cities in 1966 (that I have data for) were:

Mondays - Orlando and West Palm Beach (Jan-May)/Fort Myers (Jun-Dec)
Tuesdays - Tampa and Eau Gallie (Jan-Apr)
Wednesdays - Sarasota and Miami Beach (Jan-Apr)/Eau Gallie (May-Oct)
Thursdays - Fort Myers (Jan-Jun)
Fridays - Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee (Jul-Sep)/Belle Glade (Nov-Dec)
Saturdays - Leesburg (Feb-Apr)/West Palm Beach (Jul-Aug)/Tallahassee (Oct)

I have data for 362 cards from 14 different cities and towns.


These maps shows the cities and towns I have (at least some) data for.



It should be noted that while results are available online for weekly cards in Jacksonville (run on Thursdays) and Lakeland (Saturdays), I do not have the ads or programs for these towns, thus am not using them for SPOT calculations.

The following wrestlers were on the roster at the end of 1965 going in to 1966:

BABYFACES

Eddie Graham - Had been a part-owner of the promotion dating back to 1961. Eddie had a few stints in Florida under his real name of Eddie Gossett in the '50s, but by October 1959 was using the name Eddie Graham everywhere he went. In the second half of 1965 he primarily competed in Florida but competed occasionally in Georgia and Tennessee and spent a week and a half in Amarillo.

Don Curtis - Perhaps best known in the ring for his team with Mark Lewin, Curtis first came to Florida in late 1959. The Curtis-Lewin team began in 1958 for Capitol Sports, where they feuded with Dr. Jerry & Eddie Graham. They teamed in Florida on and off from 1960 through 1964. Don spent the first seven months of 1965 in Amarillo before returning to Florida in August.

Klondike Bill - Bill came to Florida in October 1965 for his first stint in the territory after spending a few months in Amarillo. As his career in the ring was winding down in the late 1970s he built and transported rings and guardrails for Jim Crockett and also served as a road agent for many years afterwards.

Sam Steamboat - Steamboat first came to Florida in June of 1964 and the promotion served as his home base for most of the next 4 years. In 1965 he did make appearances in Dallas, Georgia, Tennessee, Amarillo and Mid-Atlantic, often as part of a tag team with Eddie Graham. No relation to Ricky Steamboat, though Ricky's ring name was chosen because of a physical resemblance to Sam.

Tito Carreon - Tito had several stints in the territory dating back to the fall of 1959. In 1965, he left Florida in January to wrestle in the Pacific Northwest. He then wrestled in Salt Lake City from August through October with at least one booking for NWA Hollywood in Los Angeles before returning to Florida in December.

Jerry London - London spent the second half of 1965 wrestling in Toronto, Montreal and Buffalo before making his way down south. He spent a couple of weeks in the Gulf Coast territory before coming to Florida in November for his second stint in the territory (not counting a very brief stay in 1958 under the name Jerry Atkins/Aitken).

Ronnie Etchison - While Etchison had a career that spanned more than three decades, this was his only stint in Florida, coming here in August of 1965. He spent a few months in Tennessee earlier in the year, but had been in Central States (which was his homebase for most of his career) from June through August. He trained several notable wrestlers that started in the Central States territory, incuding Butch Reed, Ed Wiskowski and Mike George.

HEELS

The Missouri Mauler - Larry Hamilton, better known as the Missouri Mauler, was the older brother of Jody Hamilton (the Assassin). When he first came to Florida in July of 1965 he used the ring name Rocky Hamilton. Newspaper ads through the rest of the year listed him under both names, but as the year came to a close he was listed as the Missouri Mauler more often than not. He spent the first half of the year in Central States. This was his first stint in Florida.

Duke Keomuka - Duke spent a month and a half in Florida back in early 1958 and returned for an extended run in 1963. In 1965 he spent almost the whole year in Florida, but was booked on at least one card in the Georgia territory as well as several in Dallas and Houston, where he teamed with 22-year old Kanji (Antonio) Inoki a few times.

Roger Kirby - This was Kirby's first run in Florida, starting in December of 1965 after spending a couple of months in Georgia. He got involved in pro wrestling after learning that his cousin's husband was a wrestler (Dennis Hall).

Red Roberts - Roberts spent a few months in Florida back in 1962-1963, and this was his second (and final) stint in Florida, coming towards the end of his 30+ years in wrestling. He had spent a few months in Mid-Atlantic before starting in Florida in early December.

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Featured Card - The final Tampa card of 1965, which took place on December 28th, featured two of the larger men in the territory, the Missouri Mauler and Klondike Bill, in a Russian Chain match. Eddie Graham & Don Curtis were partners in a six-man tag team match along with Ronnie Etchison to face Bob Orton (Senior), Johnny Powers & Roger Kirby. Orton & Powers were in briefly over the holidays, though Orton would return in early 1966 as a regular. Also on the card was Kurt & Skull Von Stroheim vs Tito Carreon & Jerry London and Mustafa Bey vs Johnny Bence.



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