Dick Beyer, a legendary wrestler for nearly 40 years from the 1950s through the 1990s and best remembered as the masked grappler The Destroyer, has passed away today at the age of 88. Dick Beyer’s son Kurt announced the news on his Facebook page today.
A collegiate wrestler and football star with Syracuse University (he played in the 1953 Orange Bowl), Dick Beyer chose professional wrestling as his passion and career, training with such legends as Dick Hutton and Ed Don George before debuting in 1954 under his real name.
But it was in 1962, after heading to work on the West Coast with Los Angeles’ World Wrestling Alliance (WWA) that his career truly took off. Donning a mask and renaming himself The Destroyer, he became WWA World Heavyweight Champion almost immediately. He would go on to hold it a total of three times during the 1960s, becoming one of the Golden Age’s greatest superstars and one of the most famous masks in the world. In 1963, he even went to Japan where he faced the father of Japanese wrestling, Rikidozan.
In 1966, he headed to Verne Gagne‘s American Wrestling Association (AWA) where he still wore a mask but adopted a new persona, that of Dr. X, where he would win the AWA World Heavyweight Championship as well, before departing in 1972.
In 1972, he headed back to Japan, and began a 21-year career working with Giant Baba in All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW). While he would sporadically return to North America to work various NWA territories or even the WWF, they were few and far between. Japan became the stomping ground of The Destroyer, until he entered semi-retirement in 1984 (although he would still do shows for All Japan until 1993).
We offer our condolences to the entire Beyer family and to The Destroyers friends and peers around the world.
Dick Beyer was the man. A favorite wrestling memory was sittting with him and his family at the Cauliflower Alley Club back in 2009. Great person, a true legend & someone everybody in wrestling should watch and learn from. https://t.co/VnL3ctCGw9
— Rob Naylor (@NINaylor) March 7, 2019
One of the best parts of @CACReunion each year for me was getting to see and talk to Dick Beyer aka The Destroyer.
And to witness the respect and reverence that all his peers had for him.
Kayfabe and Godspeed sir.
Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/T9lSd6mF5s
— Kevin Gill (@OGkevingill) March 7, 2019