Thursday, November 13, 2008

Merv Fortune

Another wrestler of my childhood, of the days of the original "On The Mat", was Merv Fortune ( who is seen here, to the right of Butcher Brannigan ).
Fortune started wrestling in New Zealand. He talks about being taken to a gym in Cuba St in Wellington. Known as "Rickard's Gym", it was a gym many of the wrestlers of the time trained in. He was taken there by "Brute" Butch Miller ( later of the Bushwhackers ), not knowing really what to expect at the start of his fledgling career. The training was "harsh, and the work we had to put in was very hard. You had to have a lot of determination to succeed in wrestling" said Fortune. Such as perhaps appearing next to the Liquidator, in his tea-cosy mask, and keeping a mostly straight face ?!?

Over time, Fortune toured the world on Wrestling's back. He toured Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Samoa, Australia, Thailand and Hawaii. Working for promoters such as Steve Rickard, Larry O'Day, Lia Maivia, and many others. He fought ( and lost to ) most of the locals of his era; the likes of John Da Silva, Steve Rickard, King Curtis and Mark Lewin. Being a good journeyman of the sport, he was also asked to put over much of the International talent of the time, fighting everyone from Rick Martel to Andre the Giant ( who perhaps unsurprisingly, Fortune lists as his toughest opponent ).

"My best memories of my time would be the wrestling itself", said Fortune recently in an interview with Kiwi Pro Wrestling. "And my worst would be when we wrestled up in Singapore when we had a full scale riot and they tried to burn down the dressing room with us in it. This made world news but at the time I thought I was coming back in a pine box".

Fortune now lives in Blenheim, in New Zealand's South Island, and manages the Stump Creek Lodge. Pop in sometime, and tell him mister J says "hi".

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