With all of the world caught up in the events of January 6, 2021, in Washington DC, lots of other news went largely unnoticed in the weeks to follow, between that fateful day at the Capitol and President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. One such event was the tragic passing of Bobby Davis on January 7, 2021, at the age of 83. While not a household name for wrestling fans in today’s day and age, Bobby Davis, the self-proclaimed “Manager of Champions”, is arguably one of the most influential men in the history of the sport when it pertains to the wrestling manager trope – in short, without the stylings of Bobby Davis, there would be no Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Jim Cornette, or Paul Heyman. Davis passed away from natural causes at his home in League City, Texas.
With great sadness and a heavy heart, I must report the passing of the great "Manager of Champions" Bobby Davis. Bobby passed away this afternoon at his suburban Houston home. Bobby was a brilliant man, loving husband and father, and an incredible person. We'll miss him dearly. pic.twitter.com/0rdy2DDJsz
— Tim Hornbaker (@TimHornbaker) January 7, 2021
Bobby Davis was originally from Ohio, where at a young age, he became enthralled with the characters and personalities that populated his local NWA affiliate, run by legendary promoter Al Taft, one of the founders of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in 1948 who ran the Midwest Wrestling Association (MWA) out of Columbus, Ohio from 1919 through the 1960s. While Davis had originally intended to become a pro wrestler himself, he soon found that his size would prove an issue, but he soon found a way to enter the business he loved – by becoming a manager. Dubbed “The Elvis Presley of Wrestling” in the 1950s, Davis utilized his strong charisma and mic skills, combined with his prior training that allowed him to take bumps to accentuate his client’s wins and/or losses, creating a blueprint that would be used by nearly every pro wrestling manager that would follow. In his early days, he managed Don Fargo – then known as Don Juan the Magnificent, prior to him rebranding as Don Fargo and teaming with Jackie Fargo – but it would be his joining Capitol Sports in New York, first as the manager for Dr. Jerry Graham and his brother, Eddie Graham, and then as the manager of “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers, that would bring him his biggest accomplishment. With Rogers as his client, he saw Rogers win the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship in 1961. By 1962, nearly a decade into his career, he parted ways with Rogers, just prior to him becoming the first WWWF World Heavyweight Champion. Rogers would return to wrestling in 1963, re-joining Capitol Sports (now WWWF), where he would become manager for Gorilla Monson, his latest “discovery”. By the end of the 1960s, however, Davis chose to retire once again, this time never returning and focusing on other business ventures with his family. But despite his relatively short career in the industry, Bobby Davis revolutionized what a manager could truly bring to the table, not just for his own “clients” but to the industry as a whole, paving the way for such characters as Heenan, Cornette, Heyman, Jimmy Hart, Gary Hart, Captain Lou Albano, and an entire cavalcade of personalities that have brought joy, anger, and excitement to the game.
For more details, check out historian and author Tim Hornbaker’s beautiful obituary at Slam Sports. Last Word on Pro Wrestling sends its condolences to Bill Davis’s family, friends, and fans during this time.
"If you liked having managers in wrestling, thank Bobby Davis!" – Jim Cornette
RIP Bobby Davis, "Manager of Champions," who was a prototype for future managers. Managed such luminaries as Buddy Rogers, Dr. Jerry and Eddie Graham, Magnificent Maurice and Handsome Johnny Barend. pic.twitter.com/AcpQJHGHp3
— Mike Mooneyham (@ByMikeMooneyham) January 7, 2021
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