Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thunderbolt Patterson

Claude "Thunderbolt" Patterson was pushed in the deep south, in Ohio and in Texas, but only made brief appearances in Arizona when Roy Shire made  failed attempt to runt here under the banner of Big Bear productions in the 1960s.

Two decades later, Patterson would again make the news, when in retirement and citing racial discrimination, would expose the wrestling world a fake in newspapers and on television. This was way before "breaking kayfabe" was the norm and his actions earned him the anger of many former friends in the game.

Patterson sometimes wrestled as heel, but was usually seen as a black figurehead and hero to the African American fans in particular, with a colorful, even flamboyant ring style.

How valid his charges of discrimination were have been verified by some and disputed by others.

On television, the late Tony Altimore decried Patterson's actions. "I was the first to shake your hand when you walked into the dressing room," he snarled t his former friend, when a panel of wrestlers admitting to the fakery faced off with those who denied it.

In any case, he was a flashy wrestler in his day, though eh had only a few Arizona matches in 1966.


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