|Born||June 9, 1924|
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US
|Died||September 18, 2004(aged 80)|
|Professional wrestling career|
James Edward Barnett (June 9, 1924 – September 18, 2004) was an American professional wrestling promoter, and one of the owners of the Indianapolis National Wrestling Alliance promotion, Australia's World Championship Wrestling and Georgia Championship Wrestling. He also served as a federal officeholder during the Presidency of Jimmy Carter.
Professional wrestling career
Barnett was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He attended the University of Chicago in the 1940s. In 1949, he went to work for Fred Kohler's wrestling magazine "Wrestling as You Like It" in Chicago. He eventually became involved in the operations of Kohler's wrestling promotion. In 1955, Barnett became a part-owner (with Kohler) of the National Wrestling Alliance promotion in Indianapolis. He moved to Indianapolis. In 1958, he entered into a partnership with wrestling promoter Johnny Doyle and started to run wrestling shows on a national basis in cities including Detroit, Denver and Los Angeles, sometimes cooperating with NWA territorial promotions and sometimes operating in competition with the local NWA promotion (Detroit).
The book, The Thin Thirty, by Shannon Ragland, chronicles actor Rock Hudson's involvement in a 1962 sex scandal at the University of Kentucky involving the football team. Ragland writes that Jim Barnett, a wrestling promoter, engaged in prostitution with members of the team, and that Hudson was one of Barnett's customers.
In 1964 Barnett traveled to Sydney with Johnny Doyle to inspect the Australian wrestling scene. Selling his Indianapolis and Detroit promotions, he returned to Australia with Doyle under the banner of World Championship Wrestling, presenting their first card on 23 October 1964, at the Sydney Stadium, and continued until 1974 when Barnett sold the promotion to Tony Kolonie and returned to the United States to become one of the owners of Georgia Championship Wrestling. In addition to his role in wrestling, it has also been acknowledged that Barnett served on Georgia U.S. President Jimmy Carter's Presidential Counsel and was appointed as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts in April 1980.
In 1987 and 1988, he worked for Jim Crockett Promotions. When Jim Crockett sold his promotion to Ted Turner's company in November 1988, he went to work for World Championship Wrestling as a senior adviser. He left WCW in 2001. He became a consultant for World Wrestling Entertainment in 2002.
Barnett died of pneumonia on September 18, 2004 at the age of 80. He had recently developed cancer and broken his arm in a fall.
Tommy Rich's less-than-a-week NWA World Heavyweight Championship reign was one of Barnett's attempts to boost Georgia gates. He was sued by wrestler, booker and partial owner of Georgia Championship Wrestling Ole Anderson in the aftermath of the Black Saturday sale of the promotion.
Awards and accomplishments
- Ragland, Shannon P. (2007). The Thin Thirty. Louisville, KY: Set Shot Press. ISBN 0-9791222-1-X.