|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (March 2007)|
April 19, 1934 |
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Doug Baker
The Arkansas Ox
|Billed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Billed weight||340 lb (150 kg)|
|Billed from||Waterloo, Iowa|
Douglas A. Baker (born April 19, 1934) better known professionally as Ox Baker, is an American professional wrestler and actor, and was feared for his dreaded finishing move, the Heart Punch, sometimes called the "Hurt Punch", after Baker's famous catchphrase "I love to hurt people!" He has appeared in several movies including Blood Circus and Escape from New York. He most recently hosted a DVD titled Best of the 80's Volume I: Best of Southwest Championship Wrestling. He hosted the DVD with Rock Parsons. The DVD is available at MVDEntertainment.com & seeofsound.com.
Ox Baker, oldest of five siblings (three brothers and one sister), began as an amateur high school wrestler, boxer and football player in his adopted hometown of Waterloo, Iowa in 1962 before getting thrown out of school. He also played football for two years in the armed forces. In the early 1960s Ox approached Kansas City, Missouri promoters about wrestling and was paid $300 for his first night. Following that night he went into training with Buddy "Killer" Austin, Pat O'Connor, and Bob Geigel. A couple of years later he was ready, standing 6'5" and weighing 342 pounds (hence the nickname "Ox"). He began his pro wrestling career by defeating Frank Hickey in Kansas City, and later the Missouri Mauler as well. As time went on he was winning a majority of his matches by knock out caused by the Heart Punch (which he borrowed from Stan Stasiak) and adapted into his own ring arsenal. He would later rename the move the Hurt Punch after Stasiak objected.
Initially debuting as a kind, horn-rimmed glasses wearing, country simpleton, Ox would eventually evolve into one of the most hated and feared villains in the History of Professional Wrestling, known for his captivating mic skills, his finishing maneuver The Heart Punch (later dubbed The Hurt Punch), and his unique look with his shaved head and dark black bushy mustache and eyebrows. In press and television he stood out among other wrestlers because of his ability to interview well. His heart punch was one of the most feared moves of its time. Baker worked wrestling promotions all over the United States and Canada, as well as several in other parts of the world.
In 1967 Baker had worked for the WWWF as The Friendly Arkansas Ox, most notably at the Market Street Arena in Philadelphia. In his first appearance there, Baker teamed with Armand Hussein (whom Ox traveled with) in a handicap match versus Gorilla Monsoon.
Later on Baker went to fight in different promotions through North America. He Fought in Detroit, Stampede Wrestling in Calgary,and AWA throughout the 1970s.
It is believed that Ox Baker's short 1980 stay in the World Wide Wrestling Federation (he did one television taping) was aborted because Vince McMahon Sr. was unimpressed with his ringwork (some rumors have Baker initially planned to challenge then heavyweight champion Bob Backlund).
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.
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.
Baker has worked in movies from time to time, most notably in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as a fighter in Jackie Chan's The Big Brawl and as Kurt Russell's gladiatorial opponent in John Carpenter's Escape From New York as well as the cult classic wrestling film which "borrowed" from his catch phrase...I Like to Hurt People.
On February 12, 1981, Baker was a contestant on the game show The Price is Right. He won his way on stage (winning Poker Game) but lost in the Showcase Showdown. He was called down by his real name, Douglas.
In 1985, Ox Baker played the Russian in the wrestling movie "Blood Circus".
In 1988 Ox returned to professional wrestling for The AWA. Under contract, Ox teamed up with The Russian Brute of ICW fame. The following year he opened "Ox Baker's Wrestling School" becoming a well-renowned trainer. His students include Star The Night Stalker (real name Bryan Clark, later known as Adam Bomb), NWA New England Superstar The Dark Angel, and his Kayfabe twin Brother Micky Byggs. He has published a children's coloring Book, recorded a music CD and always a fan favorite, continues to make public appearances, most recently to promote his new cookbook. Ox is assisting The Russian Brute with his book Dreams Through A Window. He also did commentary for some IWCCW events in the early 1990s.
During his years as a territorial wrestler Baker had gained a reputation as an accomplished cook, saving money on the road by avoiding restaurants and cooking meals for his fellow wrestlers himself. Sometime after his retirement Baker wrote and privately published his own cookbook/memoirs.
On February 14, 1996, Ox Baker was united in marriage to his second wife Peggy Ann Kawa.
In 2005 an extensive documentary on Baker's life and career was filmed, directed by Halfbreed Billy Gram, shot by Robert Lucas. At last word the film is still in post production with a working title of "I Love the People I Hurt-The Life and Legend of the Mighty Ox Baker". Also filmed during this time was a short comedy feature titled "My Smorgasboard with Ox", co-written and co-starring Ox and Gram. A very crude, rough cut of this film exists, Ox has been selling copies at personal appearances.
In 2006 the North Carolina-based indie band The Mountain Goats released a song on the album Babylon Springs entitled Ox Baker Triumphant in which Ox is betrayed by the wrestling community and rises up to strike vengeance upon them.
Baker also made an appearance in CZW on December 8, 2007, in Philadelphia, during their Cage of Death 9 show. Ox appeared as the guest of Cult Fiction, Halfbreed Billy Gram and Toby Klein, in an interview segment that opened the show, serving a dual purpose of paying respect to Ox and setting up some heat around the main event later in the evening. This appearance is available from SmartMark Video.
Baker resides in Connecticut, doing shows in the New England area and has been inducted into the NEPWHOF.
Peggy Ann Kawa-Baker died on April 24, 2010, in Danielson, Connecticut.
In December 2013, Baker has recently returned to the ring to be crowned the CCW Champion after being a surprise entrant in the 13 man battle royal in Ohio.
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