Blackjack Lanza American professional wrestler

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Blackjack Lanza
Black Jack Lanza & Bobby Heenan - The New Illustrated Wrestling News A.W.A. Edition - 1971 No.46 (cropped).jpg
Lanza in 1971.
Birth nameJohn Lanza
Born (1935-10-14) October 14, 1935 (age 85)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States[1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Blackjack Lanza[2]
Jack Lanza[2]
Joe Lanza[2]
Billed height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)[2]
Billed weight253 lb (115 kg)[2]
Billed fromAlbuquerque, New Mexico[1]
Laredo, Texas[3]
Trained byVerne Gagne[2]

John Lanza (born October 14, 1935) is an American retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Blackjack Lanza. Along with his long-term tag team partner, Blackjack Mulligan, Lanza was one-half of The Blackjacks: "black cowboy hat-wearing, cowboy boot-stomping, rugged hombres who drew money wherever they went".[4] From the 1960s to 1980s, Lanza wrestled for promotions such as the American Wrestling Association, World Wrestling Association, and the World Wide Wrestling Federation, winning the AWA World Tag Team Championship, WWA World Tag Team Championship, and WWWF World Tag Team Championship alongside Mulligan. He is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Professional wrestling career

Early career (1961–1962)

Originating from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lanza was trained by local promoter Verne Gagne. He began his career in late-1961, wrestling a handful of matches for the Birmingham, Alabama-based NWA Mid-America promotion as "Joe Lanza". In 1962, he briefly held the promotion's NWA Southern Junior Heavyweight Championship.[1][5][6]

St. Louis Wrestling Club (1962–1963, 1966–1978)

Lanza wrestled sporadically for the St. Louis Wrestling Club from 1962 to 1963, then again from 1966 to 1978.

In February 1969, Lanza wrestled former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Gene Kiniski to a 60-minute draw, establishing him as an "instant contender".[7]

American Wrestling Association (1962–1979)

In mid-1962, Lanza returned to Minnesota, where he joined Gagne's American Wrestling Association as Jack Lanza.

He teamed with Bobby Duncum and was managed by Bobby Heenan.[8] During his time in the company, his gimmick was that of a Western cowboy.[9] The duo won the AWA World Tag Team Championship on July 23, 1976.[10]

In the 1970s, Lanza and Mulligan teamed up to form The Blackjacks. Lanza was a main-eventer when the duo began teaming together.[9] They were managed by Bobby Heenan.[8]

Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling (1963)

In 1963, Lanza joined the Charlotte, North Carolina-based Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling promotion, wrestling as "Jack Lanza". He left the promotion the following year.[11]

World Wrestling Association (1967–1972)

Lanza wrestled for the Indianapolis, Indiana-based World Wrestling Association from 1967 to 1972.[12] Accompanied by Bobby Heenan, he defeated Wilbur Snyder for the WWA World Heavyweight Championship in September 1967. His reign lasted until August 1969, when he was defeated by Dick the Bruiser.[13]

In 1971, The Blackjacks began wrestling in the WWA. In November 1971, they defeated Paul Christy and Wilbur Snyder for the WWA World Tag Team Championship. Their reign lasted until September 1972, when they lost to The Crusher and Dick the Bruiser.[14]

World Wide Wrestling Federation (1973, 1975)

Lanza debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in mid-1973 as "Blackjack Lanza". His regular opponents included André the Giant, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Dean Ho. He left the promotion in December 1973.[15]

In 1975, they joined the WWWF.[9] On August 26, 1975, The Blackjacks defeated Dominic DeNucci and Pat Barrett for the WWWF World Tag Team Championship.[16] The match was a two-out-of-three falls match, and the Blackjacks won the match by winning the first and third falls.[9] As part of his tenure in WWWF, Vince McMahon promised Lanza that he would receive one World singles title shot a month.[9]

NWA Big Time Wrestling (1974–1975)

In January 1974, The Blackjacks joined the Dallas, Texas-based NWA Big Time Wrestling promotion.[17] Later that month, they were named the NWA American Tag Team Champions. Their reign lasted until July 1974, when they were defeated by Ken Patera and Tex McKenzie.[18][19]

In December 1974, he won the vacant NWA American Heavyweight Championship. He lost the championship to Fritz Von Erich later that month.[20][21]

Georgia Championship Wrestling (1979)

In 1979, Lanza wrestled for Georgia Championship Wrestling. He defeated Bob Armstrong for the NWA Georgia Television Championship in April, holding the championship until August 1979, when he was defeated by Ray Candy.[22][23]

Late career (1979–1985)

After Georgia Championship Wrestling, Lanza was inactive from wrestling until 1983. He returned to AWA American Wrestling Association where he feuded with Bobby Heenan in bunkhouse matches defeating Heenan in all of them. That same year he reunited with Blackjack Mulligan working St. Louis and AWA. The Blackjacks broke up in 1984. He retired from wrestling in 1985.

Retirement (1985–present)

After retiring, Lanza worked for the World Wrestling Federation as a road agent and producer.[1][24][25]

In 2004, Lanza inducted his longtime manager Bobby Heenan into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2004.[8] On April 1, 2006, Lanza, along with his former partner, Blackjack Mulligan, were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Heenan.[8]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b c d Tim Hornbaker (2017). Legends of Pro Wrestling: 150 Years of Headlocks, Body Slams, and Piledrivers. Sports Publishing. p. 442. ISBN 978-1-61321-875-4.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Blackjack Lanza". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  3. ^ a b "The Blackjacks". WWE. Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  4. ^ Ross, Jim; Ross, Jan (2003). J. R.'s Cookbook: True Ringside Tales, BBQ, and Down-Home Recipes. Simon & Schuster. p. 258. ISBN 978-0-7434-6504-5.
  5. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - National Wrestling Alliance". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  6. ^ a b "NWA Southern Junior Heavyweight Title [Tennessee & Alabama]". April 28, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  7. ^ Meltzer, Dave (July 2003). Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Wrestling Observer Newsletter. p. 5.
  8. ^ a b c d "Hall of Fame: The Blackjacks". Archived from the original on 2007-07-03. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  9. ^ a b c d e David Chappell. "Blackjack Mulligan interview". Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Archived from the original on 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2008-04-10.
  10. ^ "AWA World Tag Team Title History". Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  11. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  12. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - World Wrestling Association". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  13. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (1997). "WWA World Heavyweight Title History". Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  14. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (1998). "WWA World Tag Team Title History". Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  15. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - World Wide Wrestling Federation". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  16. ^ "World Tag Team Title History". WWE. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  17. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Big Time Wrestling". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2006). "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Fritz Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 978-0-9698161-5-7.
  19. ^ a b "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  20. ^ a b Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2000). "Texas: NWA / World Class American Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  21. ^ a b "NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1967-1968/05) - American Heavyweight Title (1968/05-1986/02)". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  22. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Career - Georgia Championship Wrestling". Retrieved August 10, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (1999). "NWA Georgia Television Title History". Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  24. ^ Austin, Steve; Bryant, Dennis (2012). The Stone Cold Truth. Simon & Schuster. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-4711-0927-0.
  25. ^ Hart, Bruce (2011). Straight from the Hart. ECW Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-77090-004-2.
  26. ^ Duncan, Royal; Will, Gary (2006). "(Texas) Dallas: NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4 ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 271. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  27. ^ "PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING HALL OF FAME MOVING FROM UPSTATE NEW YORK TO TEXAS". PWInsider. November 20, 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-20.

External links

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