Originally published at Les Thatcher recounts Ron Wright being stabbed by a fan, his plane being set on fire
Les Thatcher shares stories of wrestler/fan encounters.
Coming out of Tennessee, Ron Wright was a staple in the area and was presented as a heel and Les Thatcher, who was present for Ron’s run, described him as one of the best heels he’s ever had the chance to work with.
While Ron Wright was in the middle of his in-ring career, the ins and outs of pro wrestling had not been made public so there were a number of encounters between wrestlers and fans where situations escalated. Thatcher told several of those stories involving Ron while guest appearing on “Da” Podcast. Thatcher recounted Ron working in Greeneville, Tennessee in the 70s and a fan taking a Hawkbill blade and stabbing Ron. It took over 100 stitches to close Wright up.
One of the best heels I ever had the opportunity to work with was a product of this part of the country and he had drew a lot of money in the Knoxville area for years, his name’s Ron Wright. But in Greeneville, Tennessee, after a match, this was back in the 70s, two policemen were escorting him to the dressing room, one in front, one behind him and I guess something that is some skirmish or something off to the side that the officer behind stepped away to check on and at that moment, a fan stepped in with a Hawkbill knife and opened Ron up from the waistline to the baseline of his neck. 175 stitches to close him up.
There was another occasion when Ron Wright was targeted by fans. He had a light aircraft plane that he would use to get from his other job to his wrestling bookings in a timely fashion. It was discovered that Ron had a plane so a few fans found it and set it on fire.
This same heel and he worked for Kodak company in the Tri-Cities area; Kingsport, Tennessee, Bristol, Tennessee and so the Piper Cub, made it so he could make wrestling commitments. He could come off his real job, jump on the plane and make little hops into Kentucky and other parts of Tennessee and over into Virginia as well. So, he — in Harlan, Kentucky, wrestling was big in Harlan. You may have heard a lot of things about Harlan; people getting shot and things like that which is — I was never in on any of that but I figure it’s all true. So anyway, and of course it wasn’t a big airport. It’s like a grass field, right? And then somebody had to come out and pick him up and take him back to the building and so people talk, fans talk or somebody sees him coming in, ‘Hey, Ron Wright’s got a plane.’ One night they went to take him back to his plane and the plane was on fire. Yes, the fans set the damn plane on fire. Yeah, welcome to the real world of professional wrestling. You know, and I tell these stories in front of some of these young wrestlers, they kind of, ‘Ah, he’s probably pulling my leg. Oh, he’s not –’ first of all boys, you wouldn’t know how to get the kind of heat we’re talking about, short of having a Scatter gun to shoot people. Well you know, heat’s not even in their vocabulary I don’t think. It’s entertaining themselves.
Earlier in the conversation, Les Thatcher stated that run-ins as such were the reason most heels in the southeastern wrestling scene during that time carried guns with him. It was not to pose as a threat, but the encounters between wrestlers and fans happened often.
Well I’m living now in Knoxville, Tennessee, this area, or the southeastern United States, you know, fans wanting to come in the ring was not uncommon, or real heat, serious heat was not uncommon. Back then, most heels, at least here in the southeastern United States, most heels carried a gun in their gear bag. Well not so much that you — I don’t think any of them ever said, ‘Oh, I wanna shoot somebody.’ But the thing was that, you know, if you’re the last guy out of the building or the last couple guys and you’re headed for your car in the parking lot and you get out there and by the time you see your car, there’s five or six guys standing around it with baseball bats or something, all you have to do is brandish that gun and they’re gone.
If the quotes in this article are used, please credit “Da” Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.