This weekend, 73-year old wrestling icon Terry Funk wrestled in a tag match alongside The Rock N’ Roll Express to face Jerry “The King” Lawler, Brian Christopher and Doug Gilbert in North Carolina with Big Time Wrestling. Funk’s first match since 2015, it marked Terry Funk’s 52nd year as an active wrestler, since his debut in 1965. With the match-up, Terry Funk moved into 8th place on the list for the longest active wrestling career in pro wrestling history.
Terry Funk and The Rock N Roll Express pic.twitter.com/2CzkIA7J6r
— Brandon M. (@LuchaKoopa) September 23, 2017
Here’s a look at the top 10 longest careers as an active pro wrestler.
#10. 49 Years: Domenic DeNucci (1963-2012)
Domenic DeNucci was a star in the WWE during the 1970’s but he continued long after he left the WWWF in 1978, training such future stars as Mick Foley and Shane Douglas (with whom he wrestled he last match in 2012).
#9. 50 Years: Ox Baker (1964-2014)
One of wrestling’s perennial bad guys, Ox Baker was a journeyman heel who worked most of the territories, including the WWWF, AWA, NWA and Japan. He wrestled right up until his death in 2014, from a heart attack.
#8. 52 Years: Terry Funk (1965-present)
Terry Funk has been a star wherever he went, from the NWA territories to the WWF to ECW and beyond. He was one of the 1970’s biggest stars, winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, before becoming a hardcore icon in the 1990s with ECW. Considering the physical style of his wrestling, it’s shocking he’s still able to walk, let alone wrestle.
#7. 53 Years: Mil Mascaras (1964-present) and Exotic Adrian Street (1957-2010)
There were masked luchadores before Mil Mascaras that may have been bigger in Mexico (El Santo and Blue Demon for example), but around the world, Mil Mascaras was the first true international masked Superstar from Mexico. He still continues to make appearances in Mexico and Japan wrestling several matches per year. Welsh wrestler Exotic Adrian Street was a journeyman until he debuted one of the most flamboyant personalities in wrestling history, lasting over 50 years in the ring. The Exotic express finally ended in 2010.
#6. 54 Years: Dory Funk Jr. (1963-present)
While younger brother Terry gets all the press, Dory Funk Jr has not only been wrestling longer than Terry, but continues to do so at a much greater pace. He’s still an active wrestler with All-Japan (his last match was a few weeks ago at the 45th Anniversary show) as well as his own Funkin’ Conservatory promotion in Florida.
#5. 55 Years: Fabulous Moolah (1949-2004) and “Superstar” Bill Dundee (1962-present)
The Fabulous Moolah wrestled for well over 50 years, even returning for a run as WWE Women’s Champion in the early 2000s. Australia’s “Superstar” Bill Dundee came to the US in 1974 after years wrestling in his home country, and soon became a staple in Memphis Wrestling, feuding and teaming with Jerry Lawler. He still continues to wrestle in the Memphis area and usually Lawler isn’t far behind.
#4. 57 Years: Johnny Saint (1958-2015) and “Bullet” Bob Armstrong (1960-2017)
British wrestling icon Johnny Saint had an extraordinary long career, only retiring a few years ago. He’s since been training future superstars at the WWE Performance Center and in the UK. Bob Armstrong is the patriarch of the Armstrong wrestling clan that includes “Road Dogg” Jesse James and the other Armstrong brothers (Scott, Brad and Steve) and a legend in Southern wrestling. He only officially retired this past summer, following a tag team match (where he partnered with Tommy Rich) this July.
#3. 58 Years: Lou Thesz (1932-1990)
One of the NWA’s greatest World Champions, Lou Thesz was a huge star during the 1930s to 1960s, where he ruled the territories. He continued to work the wrestling circuits well into his latter years, with his last match coming in 1990 with NJPW against Masahiro Chono. The exact date of Lou Thesz’ career is still debatable – many claim his career began in 1934, while he mentions starting his training as a 16-year old in 1932. Either way, whether it’s 58 years or 56 years, it’s still a remarkable feat.
#2. 60 Years: Gypsy Joe (1951-2011)
A journeyman wrestler from Puerto Rico who was an attraction all over the world, he was another of the hardcore originators that had an incredibly lengthy career – the second longest of all time in fact. And while many slow down as they get older, Gypsy Joe was competing in Japan for much of his latter years.
#1. 70 Years: Mae Young (1940-2010)
Technically she had her first matches in 1939 as a teenager, but they were only try-out matches. But her last in-ring match was in 2010 in a 2-on-1 No DQ Handicap Match against LayCool (Michelle McCool and Layla) in the WWE (which she won). A bruiser for her entire 70 years in the business.