Dory Funk Sr was a tough guy, and came from an era (which lasted through the 1980s) where you did what you had to do to protect the legitimacy of the business. If a loudmouth at a bar was yelling about how fake wrestling was, it was the wrestler’s duty to beat the Hell out of him to prove that wrestling was real. When Bill Watts promoted Mid-South Wrestling, he even had a rule that if one of his wrestlers lost a bar fight, he’d be fired.
Fight: Dory Funk Sr vs Civilian
Date: 1949 (exact date unknown)
Location: Joe Bernarski’s in Amarillo, TX
Source: “Terry Funk: More Than Just Hardcore” autobiography, Armpit reader Mario Logan
Of course, this sounds ludicrous today because everyone knows wrestling is scripted, and nobody really cares anymore. It’s not about being tough, it’s about being entertaining. And in these days of camera phones, nobody should be fighting because it would only lead to lawsuits and tabloid headlines that make everyone involved looked bad. For example, when Big Show decked a guy in a bar years ago (in WCW) and broke his jaw, he went to court for it because it was captured on a security camera.
But in the 1940s, nothing got publicized and wrestlers could do what they want. Wrestlers never looked for fights and never wanted fights, but if someone ever questioned the realism of pro wrestling, wrestlers would always put an end to the argument the only way they knew how.
After one of Dory’s matches, he drove his family back home to Amarillo. His family included his wife and two young sons, Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr. Terry was five years old and Dory Jr was nine.
Before going home, they stopped at Joe Bernarski’s, which was a steakhouse in town actually named after a pro wrestler. Terry and his brother were at a table together alone, while his parents were at another table. A man in the restaurant sat next to Terry and said, “So, you’re Dory Funk’s son?”
Terry replied affirmatively. The man then proceeded to ask a bunch of questions about the inner workings of pro wrestling, trying to get him to admit it was fake. When Terry told the story, he never mentioned how he answered those questions. While it would seemingly be easy for an adult to manipulate a young child into spilling the beans, most likely Terry either was too young to know the difference, or his father had instilled in him that he must always tell people it was real.
Regardless, his brother Dory was old enough to know better, so he probably protected the business for his dad. Either way, it was Dory who went to tell his father what this man was saying. Dory Sr then came over to the table.
All we know about what happened next is when Terry simply wrote, “That was one of the first times I remember seeing someone truly getting the sh*t beaten out of them.”
It would be interesting to question Dory Jr about this to find out what he remembers, but the truth is, this kind of stuff happened all the time back then. Whether or not that man ever found out the truth about pro wrestling, he learned that night how tough Dory Funk Sr really was.