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Buddy Landel[3] (born William Fritz Ensor; August 14, 1961 – June 22, 2015), better known as "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel, was an American professional wrestler born in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Buddy Landel
Birth nameWilliam Fritz Ensor
Born(1961-08-14)August 14, 1961[1]
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
DiedJune 22, 2015(2015-06-22) (aged 53)
Chilhowie, Virginia, U.S.
Cause of deathComplications after a car accident
Spouse(s)Tuesday Smith 1975-1976 Donna Landel 1981-2015
ChildrenAndrea, Celeste & Kolby
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Buddy Landel
The Nature Boy
Billed height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Billed weight235 lb (107 kg)
Billed fromJacksonville, Florida
Trained byBoris Malenko[1] Bob Roop , Bob Orton Jr.

Professional wrestling careerEdit


Landel first became interested in professional wrestling when a friend of his sister, Lou Anne Smith, introduced him to Bob Orton, Randy Savage and Boris Malenko. Landel was an amateur wrestler in high school, but dropped out during his junior year.[1][2] While he was training with Boris Malenko, Landel lived in an apartment with Olympian Bob Roop.[1]

He started his career in 1979 in Bill Watts's Mid-South Wrestling.[2] He also worked in International Championship Wrestling. He went to the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)'s Jim Crockett Promotions in 1985 and joined manager James J. Dillon's stable.[2] A wrestling card with a Landel-Ric Flair main event on July 31, 1985, drew an overflow crowd at J.S. Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina.[4] (Landel often claimed this crowd broke Elvis Presley's attendance record at the arena, but this has not been independently confirmed.[5]) He won the NWA National Heavyweight Championship from Terry Taylor at Starrcade '85 in Greensboro, North Carolina.[2]

Landel was set to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship from Flair in 1985. However, Landel had a falling out with the management of Jim Crockett Promotions and left the company.[2][6]

Landel went back to the Tennessee area in 1986. With Bill Dundee, Dutch Mantell, and Jerry Lawler, he headlined the last sold-out show in the Mid-South Coliseum. He worked in the Alabama territories in 1987 and 1988. Landel at one time was managed by Andy Kaufman, Jim Cornette, and Jimmy Hart.


He came back to the NWA in 1990 and wrestled Ric Flair in a "Battle of the Nature Boys". He wrestled Flair in a "Gauntlet match" which aired on November 24, 1990. The storyline was dropped after three months because of Landel's personal problems.[1] In early 1991, he was under consideration for membership in Alexandra York's The York Foundation.

He went back to the independents in 1991 and was going to wrestle "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers for his Tri-State Title in early 1992 but the promotion folded before the match could happen.

He worked in Smoky Mountain Wrestling (SMW) in 1992 and in 1994-1995.[2] There he became one of the main eventers managed by Jim Cornette. Buddy held the SMW Heavyweight Championship and the SMW Television Championship in 1995. He remained a heroic character until the promotion folded in late 1995.[2] Landel and Shawn Michaels set a record house at the Knoxville Coliseum.[2][7]

After Cornette closed SMW, both Cornette and Landel went to the World Wrestling Federation.[7] Working without a contract, Landel started working on December 5, 1995, the same day as Stone Cold Steve Austin, then known as The Ringmaster.[1][7] He continued to use a very similar image to Ric Flair, even using Flair's early 90s WWF entrance music. He made his Raw debut defeating Bob Holly.[7] He also defeated Matt Hardy and Chris Michaels.[8] Landel wrestled Bret Hart in a WWF World Heavyweight Championship match televised on January 13, 1996. Landel suffered a serious injury out of the ring shortly after his debut tearing his right quadriceps, and was out of action for six months as a result.[1][7] After his injury healed, he worked a few more WWF matches before leaving the company.[7]

In 2005 he worked at NWA Rocky Top promotion in Knoxville doing color commentary with Tony Basilio.

Landel was honored as Most Influential WWF/WCW Wrestler from Kentucky by the state's governor and made a Kentucky Colonel in 1990. On August 27, 2011 Landel was inducted into the Legends Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Personal lifeEdit

Landel's roots were English, Cherokee Indian and German. His 5th great-grandfather was Peter Shipe, President George Washington's baggage master. Upon the end of his service, Peter Shipe was given a land-grant in Knoxville by Washington for his service, and the family owned the land for 200 years until it was sold in 1980 by his grandmother, Agnes Luttrell Shipe, surviving wife of Thomas Samuel Shipe.

Landel acknowledged that in 1985 he began abusing drugs, using them for 10 to 15 years.[1] He hoped by talking about the rampant drug abuse in Pro Wrestling, that he could help newcomers to avoid the trials he went through as a result. He also had some trouble with the IRS, but Jim Crockett helped pay the tax bill.[2]

He was an active reserve police officer since 1998 and went through the Sabre Tactical School ran by Paul Castle. Buddy and his wife Donna were married for over 34 years. He had 3 daughters: Andrea, Celeste and Kolby. Landel had several grandchildren, including Nick Osborne, who was drafted into professional baseball in 2019.


On June 21, 2015, Landel was involved in a car crash. He was later released from the hospital and he returned to his home in Chilhowie, Virginia. His wife Donna found him dead the next morning.[1][9]

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Oliver, Greg (June 22, 2015). "Buddy Landel dead at age 53". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Mooneyham, Mike (May 15, 2011). "The Redemption of Buddy Landel". The Post and Courier. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  3. ^ Dave Meltzer. "June 29, 2015 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Buddy Landel obituary, Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice coverage, and more". Wrestling Observer. Retrieved June 25, 2015.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Buddy Landell Chat". 1998-03-04. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Oliver, Greg (June 22, 2015). "Buddy Landel's brief WWF run". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  8. ^ Graham Cawthon. "WWE Results 1995". The History of WWE. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "Nature Boy Buddy Landel passes away". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. June 22, 2015. Archived from the original on June 23, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000), Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.), Archeus Communications, ISBN 0-9698161-5-4
  11. ^ Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South Heavyweight Title,, retrieved 2009-04-26
  12. ^ a b The History of Smoky Mountain Wrestling, retrieved 2009-02-01
  13. ^ "'Mark Curtis Memorial Weekend of Champions' and 'Legends Reunion' Report". Southern States Wrestling. 2001. Archived from the original on May 17, 2001.

External linksEdit