Hiking, climbing, and race car driving may be what comes to mind when you think of WNC sports — but did you know that our region also has a long and celebrated history of professional wrestling? Today we’re revisiting some of the region’s larger-than-life wrestling legends.
Born in Cherokee in 1906, Osley began wrestling during the Depression and became the Super Heavyweight Champion of the World in 1937 — a title the 6 ft6 inch behemoth held for 14 years. By the time he retired in 1951, Osley had fought 5,217 matches throughout the country. Later, he was elected Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, an office he held from 1951-1955 and again from 1959-1963.
This dynamic duo was born in Hendersonville in 1946. The brothers’ impressive size (a result of pituitary gland damage from childhood measles) led them to be named the world’s largest twins in the Guinness World Records. They rose to fame performing stunts on mini bikes before becoming pro wrestlers under the name of the McGuire Twins, and are credited with helping put WNC on the national map. Their 13-foot wide granite headstone, which is also believed to be the world’s largest, remains a popular area attraction.
Known collectively as FTR — and considered among the best tag teams in the history of wrestling — Harwood and Wheeler currently hold three tag team titles as a tandem (the AAA, ROH, and IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships). Also cool? These NC natives reside right here in the Asheville area, placing them alongside other celebrities with ties to the city.