On Tuesday it was shared with the world that former WWF champion Pedro Morales had passed away at the age of 76. Although a hero of a former generation, many personalities from the wrestling world ,spanning decades, paid their respects.
Morales was originally born in Puerto Rico in 1942. He got into the world of professional wrestling in 1959 and was quickly becoming popular. In an era when a wrestlers ethnic background was their image that they presented to the fans, Morales was popular with Spanish and Puerto Rican fans.
In his early days in the ’60s, Pedro wrestled in the Carolinas and Virginia before moving to Texas and wrestling there. He was mostly in tag team matches with many different partners and feuded with The Graham Brothers. He then moved on to the WWA federation in California and even Mid-Pacific Promotions in Hawaii before coming back to the mainland and the Northeast where he became part of the (then) World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1970.
While there he found his fan base not only in the Puerto Rican fans but also the lower class immigrant populations. He teamed up with popular star Cheif Jay Strongbow as well as fellow Puerto Rican star Victor Rivera. He gained hold of a version of the United States Title in the early 1970s and defended that title against many opponents. But when top star Bruno Sammartino didn’t want to be champion anymore and reduce his schedule, The title was put on “Russian” Ivan Koloff only to lose it to Morales three weeks later on February of 1971. He held the title until December of 1973 when he lost the belt to Stan “The Man” Stasiak who turned right around and lost the belt to Bruno nine days later. It is said that Pedro dropped the title because fans would riot if Pedro got hit too hard or some bad guy did something mean to him.
He breifly held the tag team titles in 1980 and the Intercontinental title twice in 1981, including being the first man to hold that title for a second time. His second reign with that belt lasted until January of 1983.
Pedro’s career began to wind down in the mid-’80s as the WWF used him more to make other stars. He had a brief run wrestling in Peutro Rico for a few years before coming back to the WWF as a lower card wrestler until he retired from In-ring action in 1987.
After he retired he was still around the WWF working as a backstage agent as well as a voice of their Spanish language broadcasts for many years. He also worked for the southern-based WCW as a Spanish language broadcaster in the 90s. He was inducted in the WWF Hall of fame in 1995.
As the years went on there was a lot less mention of him as he was more of an old school name that didn’t agree to be part of what was going on in wrestling. He kept to the private life mostly and soon was showing signs of Parkinson’s Disease. He battled that until he passed away this past Tuesday.
During his long career, Pedro was known as a hero to not only his many Puerto Rican fans but also to fans regardless of where they were from. Many people of the time will talk about his famous match with Bruno Sammartino at Shea Stadium in 1972 that went for over an hour. Or the cage matches against George “The Animal” Steele that headlined the WW(W)F’s first run in cable TV in specials for HBO. He was a big hero to many who fought and defeated the bad guys for decades and for many fans.
So we say goodbye to Pedro Morales for all the matches and time he spent in the ring entertaining the crowds. For many, he was their champion and their hero who conquered the evil villains of the day.
May he rest in peace.