Tragic news broke out of Knoxville, Tennessee this past weekend when it was reported by Les Thatcher that Archie Gouldie, the Mongolian Stomper, has passed away at age 78.
The Stomper was a holy terror in the Kentucky of my youth. His finishing move, the Shinnin-no-maki, was one of the great pro wrestling submission holds in a sport filled with thousands of maneuvers dedicated to shortening a man’s life-span.
Saturday afternoons on the farm in Knox County, Kentucky meant a respite from all the hard work in the fields. My parents were wardens when it came to squeezing labor out of their offspring but we were allowed one hour in front of the TV set to watch Southeastern Championship Wrestling out of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Mongolian Stomper was the heavyweight champion.
The battle-hardened old veteran warred across the region to maintain his grip on the strap. Ronnie Garvin, Bob Armstrong, Ron Fuller, Jos LeDuc, Ricky Gibson and others attempted to take the man’s crown and while success was sometimes found, it was the Stomper who almost always emerged as still-champion.
What could be done to defeat this ajax of a man? Bring in Andre The Giant, all 447lbs of him, of course. Could the man-mountain from France finish the Stomper with his thrilling French Head Butt or would the Giant find himself on the receiving end of the dread Shinnin-no-maki?
Edward’s Gymnasium (built 1938) in Corbin, Kentucky would be the proving grounds for these two killing machines.
I attended dozens of matches in this building, as did my grandmother when she was a young lady, and I have never seen this many people turn out for a fight. Thousands of people crowded inside and thousands more, denied entry, stood near the facility in the street listening to the roar of the crowd.
And roar we did. I was barely in elementary school but I remember the match like it happened yesterday. The two monsters met in the middle of the ring for nearly an hour before the arch-villain Don Carson, manager of the Stomper, got his man disqualified when he attacked the Giant as the referee’s back was turned.
Archie Gouldie’s first match was on Sunday February 11th, 1962. He beat John Dayne in Calgary, Alberta Canada. His final match was 35 years later in Johnson City, Tennessee on Friday February 14th 1997.
Always the monster heel, Gouldie beat three men at once in his farewell match. Dr Dan, Night Train, and The Orderly all went down to the elderly Gouldie.
How did a mild-mannered Canadian come to be known as the Mongolian Stomper? Gouldie was wrestling in Kansas City in 1964 when ex-world champion Pat O’Connor gave him the monicker. “He said he wanted a gimmick-type character in Kansas City, he had just bought the promotion. I went along with it and it stuck with me. It worked well so I stayed with it.”
I completely, 100% bought into the gimmick. I routinely thought of all the hard-training the Stomper must have done when he was being raised up on the frigid steppes of Mongolia. Such is the nature of being a child who loves pro wrestling.