|Arguably the greatest wrestling brawler of all time, and creator of hardcore wrestling, was brutally murdered in a locker room
prior to a wrestling match in 1988 by another wrestler who was also the company's promoter. Bruiser Brody's murderer was
Born Frank Goodish in Pennsylvania in 1946, he played college football and turned pro in 1968 as a linebacker for the
Washington Redskins. He made his professional wrestling debut in 1973 as Bruiser Frank Brody, and won the NWA Western
States Tag Team title with Stan Hansen the following year. Brody won several more titles over the next two years which
caught the eye of wrestling legend Killer Kowalski who convinced WWWF (later WWF, now WWE) owner Vince McMahon Sr
to bring Brody to the company. The 6'7" 300 plus pounder quickly found himself main eventing against champion Bruno
Sammartino where he showed the world that he was arguably the greatest big man in pro wrestling history. However a Feb
7, 1977 house show would be Brody's last WWWF match before he left the company. Also on that show were Gorilla
Monsoon and Jose Gonzales. Rumor was that Brody and Monsoon had a backstage fight. In a 2002 interview, former WWF
star Kamala said "Monsoon did not like other big men who were over with the fans."
Brody was a real free agent, wrestling when and where he wanted, and refused to sign any long term contract with any
promoter. He wanted to be in control of his wrestling career. Brody was notorious for ignoring instructions from bookers and
would often refuse to put over other wrestlers when asked. This was clearly apparent in a memorable cage match against
Lex Luger where Brody didn't sell any of Luger's offense forcing Luger to shove down the referee to end the match. Over a
six year period he did not job to any wrestler via clean pinfall.
Coming out to the ring wildly swinging a metal chain with Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" blasting over the p.a. system,
Brody parted a walkway through the sea of ringside fans with his blood curdling shouts. He was in such big demand in
Japan, he became the object of a bidding war between All Japan and New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1985. He quickly walked
out on All Japan and came to an agreement with New Japan promoter Antonio Inoki that would see him earn in excess of
$14,000 a week guaranteed, making him the highest paid wrestler in the world. The signing made front page news in
Japan. A year later Brody was blacklisted from Japan when he and tag team partner Superfly Jimmy Snuka didnâ€™t show
up to the New Japan tag team title tournament. However, Brody was back in Japan a year later and had his last title match
there on March 27, 1988 when he defeated Jumbo Tsurata to regain the NWA International Title for a third time
On July 16, 1988, things turned ugly. Brody was set to wrestle against Dan Spivey for Carlos Colon's World Wrestling Council
at the Juan Lobriel Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. I spoke on the phone with American wrestler Tony Atlas who was
also scheduled to appear on the same show. He recapped the days events:
"Truth of the matter is I came out of the Panama Hotel and Brody was sitting there on the steps. I say 'Brody I'm running
late..where's your ride?' He said 'Jose is supposed to pick me up'. Jose didn't show up for Brody so I said to him 'if you want, I
got my buddy from Muscle Fitness, you can ride with us'.. Just us and his girlfriend and later Dutch Mantel came out. Brody
sat up front, Dutch sat in back . We drove to the building. When we were in the locker room, I was drawing a picture in my
sketchpad of The Youngbloods and Brody came over and said "wow you draw good, can you draw my son?" Jose came
over to Brody. Carlos, Jose, and Victor Rica were sitting in a huddle, but only Jose came over to Brody. Brody had his bag
in one hand and Jose tapped him on the shoulder and they went into shower. Everyone else was watching me draw. Then
Brody hollered. I ran into shower, grabbed Brody and laid him on floor. Brody said 'Im hurt brother dont let him hut me no
more'. The cops came in..asked what happened. I told cops 'that guy over there stabbed that man'. The cops said they have
different story and said a fan did it . They asked everyone in that locker room what happeend, and they all denied seeing it.
Dutch became booker in exchange for keeping his mouth shut."
Allegedly, Jose Gonzales who wrestled under the name Invader #1 (as well as "Sabu Singh" in the late 1960s) had a
hunting knife concealed under a towel when he went into the shower with Brody. Brody's liver and lung were punctured as a
result of the stab wounds. Gonzales is 5'10 and weighed 230 pounds at this time, and was also the promoter for WWC.Atlas
said that everyone else in the locker room, including Buddy Landell, Dutch Mantel, Doug Furnas, and TNT seemed more
concerned with getting ready to wrestle instead of taking care of Brody. He said only The Youngbloods were crying. Some
sources claim an ambulance wasn't called for 45 minutes which allowed time for the murder weapon to be disposed. The
knife that fatally stabbed Brody was never found. Other sources claimed that an ambulance was called right away, but
because of traffic near the stadium, it took a long time to arrive. Either way, 45 minutes after the stabbing an ambulance
was on the scene and was called for by Victor Quionnes.
Atlas told me: "When the ambulance came, the medic couldn't pick up Brody and so she asked the other wrestlers to help
and no one did. Only I did. I got in ambulance with him. Dutch said he didn't see nothing and didn't help. Last thing Brody
said to Carlos was 'take care of my kid for me', he must have known he was gonna go. The only thing I remember about
Brody was that two days earlier Brody had said to me 'Tony, I finally got in'. Whatever that meant, he didn't say but I think he
meant he got shares in the WWC, I know he wasn't talking about wrestling there. The only people who really know what
happened are Brody, Jose, and Carlos. Next day me and Afa went to the police and were told we'd be notified when there
was a trial. We never were. Savio Vega , (TNT) came to my room that same night and said 'go to the airport..don't to go bed
tonight, find the first airplane and leave if you want to see tomorrow'. So I left. I went back several times for different
promotions. I was better friends with Jose than I was with Brody."
Atlas accompanied Brody to the hospital (El Meidico Centro) where Brody died at approximately 4:30 a.m. on July 17,
1988. There were reports indicating he died on the operating table and other reports which indicated he bled to death in
the hospital, because the doctors there ignored him, not realizing he regularly took lots of aspirin for pain. The aspirin
caused his blood to thin and not clot which led to him bleeding to death..He was 42 years old, survived by his wife Barbara
and their eight year old son Geoffrey. I asked Atlas if there was anyone else present in the hospital with him and Brody and
if he still talks to Jose;
"I talk to Jose, we just don't mention it. If you are in Puerto Rico the last thing you want to do is talk about that (laughter). If
you get stabbed in there, it's like getting punched here. It's not a big deal there. What surprised them was Jose was so small
and he did that to Brody. Different mentality there. When I took Brody to the hospital, there were a lot, like 30, there with
stab wounds. That's why the doctors took so long to get him. The doctor could have saved him if gotten to him earlier. A
guy went to the hospital with me, I can't remember his name. He was a Puerto Rican guy who was a former wrestler. He was
older than me and I think his son wrestles still. He told the police in their language what I said to the police. He went along
to be a translator. A .week later he got shot. Next time I saw him he was in a wheelchair. So you put two and two together
anyway I have to get back to work my brother."
Atlas then got off the phone. Was Atlas possibly referring to Miguel Perez Sr, who passed away from a heart attack in July
2005? His son, Miguel Perez Jr. wrestled in WWC and later WWF. Or possibly Hurricane Castillo Sr, who's son also wrestles.
The day after Brody passed away, Jose Gonzales was arrested on charges of First Degree Murder and a Weapons Violation.
Gonzales was indicted in November 1988 on charges of Voluntary Homicide, but because nobody testified against Jose, it
was ruled self defense and he was acquitted in January 1989. Brody's family attorney was quoted at the time saying that
Atlas refused extradition (he was allowed to do so on a technicality) and that the case had depended entirely on his
testimony. Without Atlas, they had no case.Unlike in the United States, the jury in a Puerto Rican murder case does not
have to come to a unanimous decision, and which ever way the majority of the jury votes is how the verdict is rendered.
Dutch Mantel said that the trial was scheduled for January 23-26, but didn't receive his subpoena until January.
American wrestler Bobby Jaggers who was present in the WWC locker room when Brody was stabbed did an interview in
which he said he believed Brody was stabbed because he owed money in taxes. He said Brody "would have his WWC pay
checks mailed to him in Texas so he could avoid paying taxes on them in Puerto Rico". Jaggers also said he believed Jose
was jealous of Brody because Brody was more popular with the fans than Jose was. The death of Bruiser Brody made major
news headlines in both Japan and Puerto Rico. A few places in the United States such as Texas, St. Louis, Missouri, and
Los Angeles covered his death as well. Wrestling legend and promoter Giant Baba held a memorial card on August 29,
1988 with the gate going to Brody's widow and son. Wrestler Manny Fernandez had a vicious and bloody match with
Invader 3, as "payback" for what Invader 1 did to Bruiser Brody..The match, which appears on a tape entitled "Wrestling's
Worst Injuries" ended with Invader 3 coughing up blood. This match was all scripted. Wrestler Ken Wayne said "And I am
sure Jovica and Carlos had a hand in t rying to cover up what they could and did a fine damn job of it too. The consensus
is Carlos got rid of the knife".