"Elvis Presley is the greatest cultural force in the 20th century."

(Leonard Bernstein)


"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)


"For a dead man, Elvis Presley is awfully noisy."

(Professor Gilbert B. Rodman)


"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






The match that almost happened: Elvis vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler

...Karate vs. Wrestling...


Many fans will not be aware but Elvis was a big fan of professional wrestling. Memphis was home to a flourishing pro-wrestling promotion from the mid 1950s to mid 1990s (CWA/USWA).

At one stage during the late 1960s-early 1970s Elvis even invited visiting wrestlers from Australia's popular World Championship Wrestling to put on an exhibition match at Graceland. He also briefly dated famed women's wrestling star, Penny Banner.

Jerry Lawler, the King of Memphis wrestling offers a little known story about Elvis and wrestling, one that would have, had Elvis not died, seen Elvis vs. Lawler in a karate vs. wrestling match at the Mid-South Coliseum. The story sheds new light on Elvis' personal interests.

EIN note: In the 1970's Muhammed Ali had participated in a much hyped and ultimately disappointing boxer vs. wrestler match with Antonio Inoki.

The following excerpt is taken from It's Good to Be the King...Sometimes by Jerry "The King" Lawler with Doug Asheville (Pocket Books, USA, 2002, ISBN: 0743457676)

One day we were talking and Mickey told me his brother was the president of the Elvis Presley International Fan Club. I said, "yeah, Mickey, I'm an astronaut too." But he said, "No, really. All the fan clubs are under him and he hangs out at Graceland all the time. He knows everybody, talks to Elvis all the time." I told him what I wanted to do.

I got him all geeked up. I said that Elvis was into karate. What if we had this bif karate versus wrestling match at the [Mid-South] Coliseum? Mickey said, "I guarantee Elvis would love that. I'll get my brother to talk to him." I thought he was just a goof, his brother's no more president of the fan club than I am. I said go ahead.

Next day, Mickey dais he'd talked to his brother and his brother was going to talk to Elvis' uncle, Vester Presley, who was the main guard at Graceland. At this point, when he was still alive, Elvis was not that big a deal. (Terrible as it sounds, dying was the best career move he ever made.) He was looked on as a recluse in Memphis.

But still, this was Elvis. Mickey told me that Elvis' dad, Vernon, was going to call me. Now Mickey is the guy who let me set his hand on fire just to see if it would hurt, so I'm really waiting on the call. I was living in Hendersonville, near Nashville, at the time. I get home one night and Kay said that somebody had called the house looking for me and his name was Vernon Presley. I said, "Really?" She said he sounded like an old man with a real southern voice and I said well, he would be an old man with a real southern voice. She said he'd call back tomorrow.

I was going to Evansville, Indiana, the next day. I had to leave around three o'c;ock. I got back and Kay said he's called again. He said he'd call the next morning at ten o'clock. I'm sitting there by the phone. Sure enough, Vernon Presley called. "Jerry..."

I was in double shock. For one, here was Vernon Presley on the phone. And that also meant Mickey's brother Eddie was really the president of the Elvis Presley fan club. Vernon had talked with Elvis about the idea. He said Elvis would like to do it. But he said Elvis was not really in very good shape. He's started to work out because he's got a tour coming up. When he comes off the tour, Vernon ssaid he'd call me back and we'd figure out the details. He said it would be a lot of fun. I said cool. I bet it was three weeks later that Elvis died.

Elvis was really big into karate; he worked out with this karate champion called Bill Wallace who taught martial arts at Memphis State and he co-owned the Memphis Karate Institute. He was a wrestling fan too. A guy called Mr. Coffee who worked at the Ellis Auditorium for forty years used to let Elvis in to watch the wrestling from the stage. Vester Presley came every Monday night to the Coliseum for a long time and he used to bring Lisa Marie to the matches when she was four or five years old.

it would have been great to have set up a program with Elvis. But by the time we were talking about it, it was too late. By 1977, Elvis was doing so many drugs. I guess he told Dr. Nichopoulos, give me this stuff, or I'll buy a drugstore. Dr. Nick would give him placebos and stuff but he also prescribed thousands of narcotic and amphetamine pills for him in 1977 alone. His license got suspended for a while.

There were all these stories about Elvis just before he died. At night he had to wear diapers. He had a long flashlight and before he got on one of his planes to go anywhere, he'd get on the plane with the flashlight and look around. People who knew him said Elvis was as nice a guy as you'd want to meet but he was still real country, as country as you could be. And he had the most magnificent complexion. Smooth as anything.

EIN Trivia: The "other King" in Memphis also recorded a single at the Memphis Recording Service (Sun Studio). It was called Bad News and sold around 20,000 copies at the wrestling matches.

(Source: "It's Good to Be the King...Sometimes")

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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 13 Jan 2005)