Long before the glitz and glamor that is “professional wrestling” today, Memphis, Tennessee, was something of a mecca for the… let’s not call it a sport… for the business. Some of the big names of the day would also appear in small town venues, including the VFW in Kennett, Missouri. From here, I’ll let Michael Spooner share his Brush With Near Greatness:
“For those who may not know, Sputnik Monroe was a celebrated Memphis wrestler in the late 1950’s and 60’s. He, along with many other wrestlers, came to Kennett to fight. I recall, at least in Kennett, no one seemed to like Sputnik since he had this ‘bad guy’ reputation. And for a couple of seasons we, too, did our share of booing Sputnik. Until the day, one Saturday afternoon, when he came to our home as a guest for dinner. This wasn’t a complete surprise since we were warned of his visit. Nevertheless, my sisters and I were shaking in our boots, while at the same time, immensely excited that an ‘almost movie star’ was coming to our house.
Well how did this happen, you ask? First of all, Sputnik and my mother never dated. My mother, however, did date a wonderful guy named Skip Pepper from Memphis for a few years in the late 50’s. At the time Skip owned a Dollar Store in Kennett, located on the north west corner of the town square. Skip knew Sputnik as a friend (we didn’t know this until we learned of his coming to dinner). It was Skip who arranged the visit.”
It’s a shame Michael’s mom never dated Sputnik. A guy could do a lot worse than “My Mom Dated Sputnik Monroe” for the title of an autobiography.
From Sputnik’s Wikipedia entry: On May 4, 2007, HBO announced they would make a movie based on Monroe’s life. On September 6, 2007 Julien Nitzberg confirmed the first draft of the Sputnik movie had been completed. A Los Angeles-based rock band is named after him. More on Sputnik Monroe. And I found this tribute to Sputnik following his death.
If you were with me here at the Coffee Zone, I could demonstrate the Man’s signature “Sputnik Strut.”