Since the late 1800s, professional wrestling has turned out many high-profile stars: names such as Frank Gotch, Ed "Strangler" Lewis, Lou Thesz, Dusty Rhodes and Hulk Hogan. Perhaps one of the most well-known pro-wrestling personalities, however, wasn't even a wrestler. He was a commentator and announcer named Gordon Solie.
Famous dead-pan style interviews and colorful play-by-play broadcasts of wrestling led to Gordonâ€™s induction into the WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1995), the NWA Hall of Fame (Class of 2006), and the WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2008).
"Gordon calling a world championship match was like Al Michaels or Bob Costas calling a Super Bowl or World Series ... just a perfect fit!" -- Mike Tenay-broadcaster for TNA Wrestling
Wrestling fans of the 60s, 70s and 80s remember Gordonâ€™s legendary broadcasts on Championship Wrestling from Florida, Championship Wrestling from Georgia, and World Championship Wrestling.
Born Jonard Frank Labiak on January 26, 1929, Gordon began working as a page and errand boy for a Louisiana radio station while he was in the U.S. Air Force. Known to his fellow servicemen as Gordy, he would later legally change his name to Gordon Solie, a name chosen to honor his family history. In 1950, he took a job as an announcer for WEBK in Ybor City, Florida. By starting his own radio sports interview program, Gordon made key contacts in professional wrestling and stock car racing. Subsequently, Gordon Solie set a course and made a major impact on the development of professional wrestling, national auto thrill show tours, stock car racing on Floridaâ€™s Suncoast, and ultimately, as the host for the highest-rated show on the largest cable network in America.
The background material for this biography was found in Gordon's personal files and taken from interviews with the people who knew him the best. It is written as a testament to a man who made his mark in many endeavors.
INTERVIEWS with 65 people who knew Gordon the best!
Family and Friends: Dotty Curtis [wife of wrestling legend Don Curtis], Gaye Swenson [Gordon's sister], Greg Solie [Gordon's son], Jeff Bukantz [member of the U.S. National fencing team], Jim Oxley [head mechanic at the Pit Stop], Keith Mitchell [WCW staff member], Pamela S Allyn [Gordon's daughter], Robert Allyn [Gordon's son-in-law], Tom McEwen [sports editor and Gordon's friend]
Stock car drivers: Buzzie Reutimann, Cush Revette, Jim Gallagher [stock car race announcer], "Little Jack" Arnold, Pancho Alvarez, Randy Alvarez [Pancho Alvarez' son], Wayne Reutimann, Will Cagle
Wrestling Journalists: Alex Marvez [Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com], Bill Apter [former editor of Pro Wrestling Illustrated], J Michael Kenyon [wrestling historian], Mike Mooneyham [wrestling journalist], Scott Teal [wrestling historian]
Wrestling Commentators: Joe Pedicino, Jim Ross, Lance Russell, Mike Tenay
Wrestling Photographers: Danny Goddard, Scooter Leslie
Wrestlers, Managers, Referees and Promoters: Abdullah the Butcher, Adrian Street, Bill Newman, Bob Armstrong, Bob Roop, Bobby Simmons, Buddy Colt, C.J. West, Danny Hodge, Danny Miller, David Marquez, Dick Steinborn, Dory Funk, "Downtown Bruno" Lauer, Dr. Ken Ramey, Frankie Cain, Gene Kiniski, Harley Race, Howard Brody, Ivan Koloff, Jack Brisco, Jack Welch, Jerry Prater [director-producer of Championship Wrestling from Florida], Jim Cornette, Jimmy Hart, Jimmy Snuka, JJ Dillon, Joe Turner, Larry Zbyszko, Les Thatcher, Mike Graham, Rocky Johnson, Ron Garvin, Roy Lee Welch, Skip Gossett, Stan Hansen, Steve Keirn