AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Texas Death Match. It is considered one of the most brutal match stipulations in pro wrestling.
The rules of a Texas Death Match are simple:
- There are no disqualifications and falls count anywhere.
- After a pinfall or submission, the person pinned or submitted had a ten count to get up or back to the ring. If the wrestler fails to do so, he loses the match.
The closest thing to the rules of a Texas Death Match where a person, who is knocked out, has a ten count to get back onto his feet is the Last Man Standing Match. The only difference is they are not pinned beforehand. If the wrestler can’t get to their feet within that ten count, they lose the match.
On July 29th, 1965, a legendary Texas Death Match took place here in Amarillo. Dory Funk Sr. and “Iron” Mike DiBiase battled for 3 hours and 10 minutes for the Amarillo NWA North American Heavyweight Championship. The match would start at The Sports Arena at the Tri-State Fairgrounds make its way down 10th Street and onto Polk Street.
“I was there that night. That did happen. They came back after that and wrestled,” said Terry Funk, son of Dory Funk Sr. “That last match was pretty much the whole entire card.”
It would be stopped at 1 a.m. by orders of Kirby Suggs of the Texas Athletic Commission because of curfew, and on the advice of a physician.
“People always ask me what happen. Who won? I say it was a draw. There was a curfew on the building and you could only keep the building open until a certain hour and they had to shut it down,” said Ted DiBiase, son of “Iron” Mike DiBiase.
According to many reports, both Funk and DiBiase were badly cut around the face and both would wind up going to the hospital for stitches.
Funk would retain his North American championship as no decision was made.
The legend of this match has persisted in Amarillo and around the world since it first happened. Many accounts have said the match was four and half hours long. That the match went until 2:30 AM and had to be stopped by the Sherriff’s Department, or even a woman’s Volkswagen Beetle was destroyed during the match.
Dory Funk Sr. and “Iron” Mike DiBiase would have a rematch for the Amarillo NWA North American Heavyweight Championship in another Texas Death Match a little less than a month later. This match had a one-hour time limit.
DiBiase would win the match via judge’s decision as it ended in a draw. Although, he did not win the title as the National Wrestling Alliance ruled that the title could not change on a judge’s decision.
Both men would go on to carve out huge legacy’s in the ring and out of it, as their sons would go on to compete in the squared circle.