It’s being reported that legendary wrestler Ox Baker has passed away. Ox Baker is best known for his finishing move the Heart Punch, a move that he adapted from Stan Stasiak. He was featured in the movie Escape From New York in which he fought Kurt Russell’s character Snake Plissken. He is a winner of numerous championships and most notably one of the most hated and feared villains in the History of Professional Wrestling.
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.
An estimated 8,000 men have fallen to the Heart Punch. Among them are Fritz Von Erich, David Von Erich, Kerry Von Erich, Jimmy Snuka, Verne Gagne, Ernie Ladd, Harley Race, Bulldog Brower, Mil Mascaras, Hulk Hogan, and The Sheik. Hogan’s knockout came when he tried to wrestle the Florida Title away from Baker. Hogan would eventually get knocked out three nights in a row. Ed Roney challenged Baker numerous times and also chased Baker out of the ring four times. Baker never accepted Roney’s challenge.
Late in his career, Baker appeared with Central States Wrestling as a face and feuded with Rip Rogers.
The Heart Punch Kills
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 faced Ray Gunkel, who was a popular wrestler in (and part owner of) the Georgia promotion. Though it was claimed that Gunkel dropped dead in the ring from the Heart Punch, other accounts, most notably in the biography of Vince McMahon Sex, Lies and Headlocks, state that Gunkel had suffered a heart attack apparently from over-indulging at a restaurant before the match. The truth is that Gunkel won the match and died in the dressing room after the match. In both cases, Baker was “blamed” for the death.