Richard Joseph "Dick" Garza (July 16, 1931 – January 7, 2002), better known as Mighty Igor Vodik, or simply Mighty Igor, was a professional wrestler. He is a one time American Wrestling Association World champion. As Mighty Igor, he was frequently billed as the "World's Strongest Wrestler".
|Birth name||Richard Joseph Garza|
|Born||July 16, 1931|
|Died||January 7, 2002 (aged 70)|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Dick Garza|
Mighty Igor Vodik
Strong Man Igor
World's Strongest Wrestler
|Billed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Billed weight||289 lb (131 kg)|
|Billed from||Dearborn, Michigan|
Garza grew up in Michigan and competed in bodybuilding contests. He won the Mr. Michigan title in 1954 before competing in Mr. America and Mr. Universe competitions. At a gym, Garza got into an argument with professional wrestler Brute Bernard and knocked him unconscious. This gained him the interest of wrestling promoter Bert Ruby, who convinced him to enter professional wrestling.
Professional wrestling careerEdit
Garza wrestled in Michigan and Ohio during his early career. He competed for a promotion named Wolverine Wrestling, where he won his first title, the Wolverine Wrestling Mid-West Heavyweight Championship, on February 14, 1957. He also competed in California, where he won the Los Angeles version of the WWA International Television Tag Team Championship in 1962 while teaming with Eric Rommel.
Garza later joined the American Wrestling Association (AWA), where he was given the ring name Mighty Igor Vodik by Verne Gagne. On May 15, 1965, he won the AWA World Heavyweight Championship by defeating Mad Dog Vachon. He held the title belt for one week before dropping it back to Vachon. In 1965 and 1966, Vodik also had two reigns as the Nebraska Heavyweight Champion. The following year, he defeated Bob Orton to win the AWA Midwest Heavyweight Championship. In the 1970s, Garza wrestled as "The Mighty Igor" in the "Big Time Wrestling" circuit from Detroit, Michigan, performing with the likes of Bobo Brazil, The Sheik, Pampero Firpo, "Big" Tex McKenzie, The Stomper, Flying Fred Curry, and The Fabulous Kangaroos.
Professional wrestling style and personaEdit
Garza used the gimmick of a friendly, but physically strong Polish man. At times, he would wear nurse's shoes and long underwear in addition to his wrestling attire to make himself look friendly or kind but he would be superhuman strong . He was also known for bringing toys and kielbasa to the ring, and he shared the kielbasa with his fans.
The other component of Garza's gimmick was his strength. He performed several feats of strength for the audience, including leaning with his back against a wrestling ring and using his legs to hold back a car driving toward him. Other performances included bending iron bars or placing cement blocks on his head and having someone break them with a sledgehammer. Ivan Kalmikoff ( Edward Bruce ) acted as his manager.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- American Wrestling Association
- Big Time Wrestling
- International Wrestling Association
- NWA Los Angeles
- WWA International Television Tag Team Championship (1 time) — with Eric Rommel
- New Independent Wrestling Association
- NIWA Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Wrestling Council
- Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
- Mooneyham, Mike. "The Mighty Igor Dead At 70". The Wrestling Gospel According to Mike Mooneyham. Archived from the original on 2008-03-12. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- Friend, Percival A. "Dick Garza". The Way It Was. Archived from the original on 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "Wrestler Profiles: Mighty Igor Vodik". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "International Television Tag Team Title (Los Angeles)". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "American Wrestling Association World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "Nebraska Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- "AWA Midwest Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Titles. Retrieved 2009-01-13.
- Heenan, Bobby; Steve Anderson (2004). Other Obstacles: Winning Life's Wrestling Matches. Sports Publishing LLC. p. 77. ISBN 1-58261-762-7.
- Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.