Blackjack Mulligan: Wrestling’s Towering Texan

Blackjack Mulligan, born Robert Deroy Windham on November 25, 1942, in Sweetwater, Texas, was a force to be reckoned with in the world of professional wrestling. His career, spanning over two decades, saw him evolve from a promising athlete to a legendary figure in the squared circle.

Before his wrestling days, Mulligan was a formidable football player at Texas Western College, now known as the University of Texas at El Paso. His athletic prowess even led him to the training camps of the NFL, where he had brief stints with teams like the New York Jets. However, it was the wrestling ring that would ultimately become his battleground.

Mulligan’s transition to wrestling was influenced by his friend, Wahoo McDaniel. He trained under the guidance of Joe Blanchard and later, Verne Gagne, before making his debut in 1967. His early career saw him wrestle under various ring names, including “Big Bob Windham,” but it was the moniker “Blackjack Mulligan” that would become synonymous with his legacy.

In the early 1970s, Mulligan’s career took a significant turn when he joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). Under the management of The Grand Wizard, he transformed into the iconic “Blackjack Mulligan,” donning black trunks, a black hat, and a black fingerless glove. His iron claw submission hold became feared by opponents across the Northeast, where he enjoyed considerable success and became an early challenger to champion Pedro Morales.

Mulligan’s imposing figure, standing at 6 ft 9 in and weighing around 300 pounds, made him an intimidating presence in the ring. His career was marked by numerous championships, including the IWA World Tag Team Championship with Larry Hennig and the WWWF Tag Team Championship with his partner, Blackjack Lanza. Together, they formed “The Blackjacks,” a tag team that terrorized opponents and left an indelible mark on the wrestling industry.

Beyond the ring, Mulligan’s life was as colorful as his in-ring persona. In 1990, he and his son Kendall Windham faced legal troubles when they were arrested for counterfeiting, leading to a two-year prison sentence following a plea agreement. Despite this setback, Mulligan’s influence on wrestling remained strong, and his legacy continued through his family. He was the father of wrestlers Barry and Kendall Windham, the father-in-law of Mike Rotunda, and the grandfather of Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, all of whom carried the torch of his wrestling heritage.

In 2006, Mulligan’s contributions to wrestling were formally recognized when he and Lanza were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by their former manager, Bobby Heenan. Mulligan’s career came to a close on April 7, 2016, when he passed away at the age of 73. His death marked the end of an era, but his impact on the wrestling world endures. Blackjack Mulligan’s legacy lives on, not only through his family but also through the memories of wrestling fans who witnessed the career of this towering Texan.

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Professional Wrestling

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