What made Lou Albano, Billy Graham and others legendary in the ring

By Andrew Essex
April 16, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Long before Stone Cold Steve Austin, wrestling was filled with colorful characters and unique ways to win. Or, as the legendary ”Classy” Freddie Blassie says, ”If you had to kick someone in the groin, you’d kick ’em in the groin!” Here’s our gallery of groin-kicking greats.

”Captain” Lou Albano (65) Sometime wrestling manager notorious for adorning facial hair with rubber bands. Enjoyed inexplicable ”rock ‘n’ wrestling” career after appearing in Cyndi Lauper’s 1984 ”Girls Just Want to Have Fun” video. Status: Coauthor of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling

”Chief” Jay Strongbow (Joe Scarpa, mid-60s) Despite excellent headdress, not actual Native American (though most famous of many wrestlers called ”Chief”). Invented ”War Dance.” Began career in 1940s. Status: 1994 WWF Hall of Fame inductee

”Classy” Freddie Blassie (ne Blassman, 81) Perhaps first wrestler to ”drink” blood in ring, ”The Vampire” used sharpened teeth long before Marilyn Manson. Author of cult song ”Pencil Neck Geek.” Status: 1994 WWF Hall of Fame inductee; Salvation Army volunteer

Gorilla Monsoon (Robert Marella, 61) Became WWWF Tag Team champ with Killer Kowalski and was early fan fave in the ’70s. Had brush with Greatness in ’76 when Ali defiled his career by allowing Monsoon to put him in an airplane spin. Status: Currently WWF president

Bruno Sammartino (63) An Italian stallion long before Rocky Balboa, this Abruzzi-born iron man once broke his neck in the ring. Vince McMahon Sr. called him ”the greatest wrestler of all time.” Refused to use steroids; squealed on Hulk Hogan for not saying ”no.” Status: Estranged from the WWF

”Superstar” Billy Graham (Wayne Eldrige Coleman, 55) Blond Hulk Hogan predecessor often confused with televangelist of same name. Early steroid use may have helped him win Mr. Teenage America. Suffered arthritis in ’80s. Status: Attempted WWF comeback in 1987, dropped out after joint surgery. Now paints at home.

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