Superstar Billy Graham, an innovator in what a modern wrestler looks and talks like, is the Wrestling Republic Wrestler of the Day for April 30th.
Superstar Billy Graham Biography:
Birth Name: Eldridge Wayne Coleman
Age: 79 (June 7th, 1943)
Weight: 275 pounds
Place of Birth: Phoenix, Arizona
Accolades: 1x WWE Champion, WWE Hall of Fame (2004), PWI’s Match of the Year for 1977 and 1988, Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (1996)
In the early years of WWE, no name was more tied to the WWE Championship than Bruno Sammartino. After 1,237 days as champion, Sammartino lost the title to Superstar Billy Graham on April 30th, 1977. Superstar Billy Graham is today’s Wrestler of the Day in honor of the anniversary of his title win.
If the name Billy Graham sounds familiar, the wrestler adopted the name to honor the evangelical preacher of the same name. After becoming a Christian as a teenager, Superstar Billy Graham adopted the name. Graham also got into bodybuilding, finishing seventh in a strongman competition in 1980.
Inside the squared circle, Graham started out with promotions throughout the NWA network, winning titles across the U.S. In the 1970s, he started working with Vince McMahon Sr’s WWE. McMahon gave him the opportunity to dethrone the legendary Bruno Sammartino. While he had this famous victory, Graham had a sometimes contentious relationship with the McMahon family.
Nevertheless, Superstar Billy Graham eventually repaired his relationship with the McMahons, allowing him to serve in a non-wrestling role with the company. In addition to defeating Sammartino, Graham is remembered for changing the game in terms of doing over-the-top promos and outrageous ring attire. Without Graham, we may not have gotten larger-than-life characters such as Hulk Hogan and many others. Graham is in our thoughts and prayers as he is currently battling serious health issues.
Photo Credit: WWE