Blackjack Lanza: Wrestling Icon Remembered

John Mortl Lanzo, known to the world as Blackjack Lanza, was a towering figure in the world of professional wrestling. Born on October 14, 1935, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lanza’s career spanned over two decades, during which he became one of the most recognizable and respected figures in the industry.

Lanza’s journey in professional wrestling began in 1961 after being trained by the legendary Verne Gagne. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing 253 pounds, he was an imposing presence in the ring. His ring names included Blackjack Lanza, Jack Lanza, and Joe Lanza, but it was as Blackjack Lanza that he found his greatest fame.

In the 1970s, Lanza formed a formidable tag team with Blackjack Mulligan, known as The Blackjacks. The duo, managed by Bobby Heenan, was known for their black cowboy hats, cowboy boots, and rugged demeanor. They were the quintessential villains of the ring, drawing crowds and money wherever they went. Their success was not limited to their personas; they were skilled wrestlers who claimed multiple tag team championships across various promotions, including the AWA World Tag Team Championship, WWA World Tag Team Championship, and WWWF World Tag Team Championship.

Lanza’s singles career was equally impressive. He was a main-eventer, battling against the likes of André the Giant, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Dean Ho. His matches were often intense and showcased his skills as a brawler. Vince McMahon Sr. even promised him one World singles title shot a month, a testament to his status as a top contender.

After retiring from active competition in 1985, Lanza didn’t leave the wrestling world behind. He transitioned to a role behind the scenes, working as a road agent for the WWF, where he continued to shape the industry by mentoring younger talent and contributing to the production of wrestling events.

Lanza’s contributions to wrestling were recognized with inductions into the WWE Hall of Fame and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, solidifying his legacy as one of the greats in the sport.

On December 8, 2021, the wrestling world bid farewell to Blackjack Lanza. He passed away at the age of 86, leaving behind a legacy that will be remembered by fans and peers alike. His influence extended beyond the ring, as evidenced by the outpouring of tributes from industry giants like Vince McMahon and Triple H, who acknowledged Lanza as one of the greatest minds in the business.

Blackjack Lanza’s career is a testament to the enduring appeal of professional wrestling and the impact one individual can have on an entire industry. His legacy will continue to inspire and entertain wrestling fans for generations to come.

Professional Wrestling

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