by Trent Rosser
Back in the 70’s sports entertainment (or professional wrestling as some would call it) was not just one or two big companies. They had territories and each territory had its own company. There was United States wrestling association, Pacific Northwest Wrestling, Mid-South Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling, World Class Championship Wrestling, National Wrestling Association and many, many more. When I was growing up, we had one territory that was the headquarters in my hometown of Amarillo, TX. It was called Southwestern States Enterprises and was run by many different people including Terry and Dory Funk Jr. as well as their father Dory Funk Sr. and also a family called the Romeros and “Dirty” Dick Murdoch.
We lived in a small town called Bushland, TX which is just outside of Amarillo. My Grandfather lived in Pampa, TX. Every Thursday he would drive the 71 miles from Pampa to Bushland to pick my brother and I up and drive us back 15 miles to the fairgrounds in Amarillo to watch wrestling. After words, he would drive us back home and then make the 71 miles back home to Pampa. This was a tradition for many weeks on Thursday nights. I do not remember most of these trips and I do not remember any of the matches, but I remember that every time the wrestlers would come and talk to my grandfather. They would break character and walk down the aisle and talk with him. I do not know what they would talk about but he would always turn them down. I also remember once they grabbed my brother and he was put in the center of the ring with all the people watching as he drew the winning door prize number. A woman a few aisle down from my grandfather and I won. I can still see the bright yellow and red tube top as she jumped up and screamed and hollered. Thank god the 70’s style is no longer!
In the 80’s is when wrestling became big. And it has exploded since then. Many of the wrestlers have gone on to become big names. We already know that the Funks are from here, but do you remember Ted Dibiase “The Million Dollar Man?” He lived in Amarillo and actually went to West Texas State University in Canyon. Stan Hanson and I am sure you remember “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. They both went to college in Canyon, TX along with many others. But did you ever hear of Dennis Stamp?
Dennis Stamp gain notoriety when the documentary about wrestling came out called “Beyond the Mat”. What a lot of people don’t know is that he is a champion. He even worked for the “Big” company World Wrestling Entertainment back in the 80s including being on a televised event in 1986. He was the N.W.A. Tri State Wrestling tag team champion with Bill Bullinski and with another popular wrestler called “The Missing Link” He was also the “Brass Knuckles” champion with the N.W.A. on four different occasions and he had won the N.W.A beat the champ television champion 2 different times. In 1971 he was American Wrestling association rookie of the year.
Dennis did not make it to the big time like Hulk Hogan or Dusty Rhodes. Dennis did not have a action figure made of him that is selling at Walmart. Dennis stayed in Amarillo and went to work as a pest control worker. He still wrestled occasionally and was a referee in many matches including the retirement match of Terry Funk that was featured in “Beyond the Mat” that I mentioned earlier. I was finally able to meet him once. We just happened to park next to each other and we talked about the wrestling old days as we walked into the store. I personally never seen him again but I did see that he had written a book or went to Scotland to participate in a wrestling match.
Dennis did not make it to the big time like Hulk Hogan or Dusty Rhodes. Dennis did not have a action figure made of him that is selling at Wal mart. Dennis stayed in Amarillo and went to work as a pest control worker. He still wrestled occasionally and was a referee in many matches including the retirement match of Terry Funk that was featured in “Beyond the Mat” that I mentioned earlier. I was finally able to meet him once. We just happened to park next to each other and we talked about the wrestling old days as we walked into the store. I personally never seen him again but I did see that he had written a book or went to Scotland to participate in a wrestling match.
In 2011 Dennis was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma which, like many of his opponents in the ring, he beat with a 1, 2, 3. Feuds come back in wrestling and in 2016 so did his cancer. This time it won and on March 13, 2017 at the age of 70, Dennis Stamp passed away.
It was wrestlers like Dennis that put sports entertainment into households across the world. Ask any of the wrestlers back in any locker room and they will tell you that wrestlers like Dennis are the ones that put them over and made wrestling what it is today. When a wrestler passes away, one of the things that they do is a 10 bell salute at the funeral. Dennis will be missed but I believe he is in a squared circle refereeing a match between Dusty Rhodes and Macho Man Randy Savage.
Rest in Peace, Dennis.