The wrestling world was saddened on Saturday to learn that longtime Southern Wrestling star Izzy Slapawitz, who competed from 1976 to 1992 for the likes of the Poffo‘s International Championship Wrestling (ICW), Mid South, and Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW), as well as stints with American Wrestling Association (AWA), World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP). He passed away from cardiac arrest during surgery.
Woke up this morning to the sad news that we have lost Izzy Slapowitz (Jeff Smith). Izzy was a big part of my early career breaking in around Knoxville. He is one of the nicest & kindest guys I've ever known in wrestling. Prayers for his wife, kids Thank you Izzy wRESTle in Peace pic.twitter.com/JAddzsh2Yr
— Beau James (@kingofkingsport) December 28, 2019
Originally from New York City, he relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee in the mid-1970s to concentrate on his pro wrestling career. He began in 1976 working for various “outlaw” (non-NWA affiliated) territories before heading to the AWA and several Southern-based NWA affiliates, like GCW, NWA Oklahoma, and others. While a talented grappler in his own right, Izzy became more utilized as a “manager of champions”, creating the Slapawitz Syndicate, a faction that featured the likes of Cowboy “Ace” Bob Orton Jr., “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Rip Rogers, Archie “The Mongolian Stomper” Gouldie, and more.
While he won the IWC US Heavyweight title in singles action, he saw more gold with the tag teams he managed, such as NWA Tri-States Tag Team Champions Oki Shikina and James “Sugar Bear” Harris (the latter would find greater success in WWF as Kamala The Ugandan Giant).
The team he was most famous for directing, The Devil’s Duo, featured Doug Vines & Jeff Sword, whom he guided through such promotions as ICW, Southern Championship Wrestling (SCW), Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling, and others.
The entire Last Word on Pro Wrestling staff offers their condolences to Izzy’s family, friends, and peers.
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