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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


May 22, 2015  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Pro wrestling fan fest at Cohn Campus aims to preserve part of armory’s glory days

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

More than 25 pro wrestlers, including Ric Flair and Gerald Brisco, are on the lineup of stars expected to be on hand for a fan fest on Thursday, June 11 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

The event is aimed at preserving the legacy of pro wrestling in Tampa during its heyday when televised Florida Championship Wrestling matches were held at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, currently being converted into a new Jewish Community Center.

The fan fest will be at the Maureen and Douglas Cohn Community Campus, 13009 Community Campus Drive, located off Gunn Highway near Citrus Park.

Activities will include a meet and greet with past and current wrestling stars, a live wrestling demonstration, a buffet dinner, a cash bar, entertainment, event t-shirt and photo opportunities. Wrestling memorabilia also will be available for purchase and a silent auction that will include memorabilia as well as non-wrestling items, will he held.

Tickets, which include one drink, are $65 for adults and $38 for children under 12. They can be purchased at or by calling (813) 264-9000.

Since 2004, the historic armory has been vacant, but the Tampa JCC & Federation has begun renovations to turn it into the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, a facility that will include a preschool, an aquatic center, a gymnasium, workout center, cultural arts center and an event center with a stage for dramatic productions and a kitchen for large dinner gatherings.

Other space will hold exercises classes, a healthcare center, an innovation center for start-up businesses from Israel that want to market products in the United States, and offices for other organizations.

Near the main entrance and administrative offices is an area where one wall will displays photos and memorabilia showcasing the history of Jews in Tampa and another will feature the role of the armory as part of Tampa’s history. That wall will take note of the many rock concerts and speeches there such as by John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, as well as many civic and social events.

If the fan fest and other donations generate enough funds, a third wall will be dedicated to the rich history of pro wrestling at the armory, when Gordon Solie would announce wrestling matches televised throughout the state.

Jody Simon of Tampa, who is part of a wrestling family, is working with the JCC to put on the event. Simon’s father, Lawrence, who died in 1994, wrestled under the names Otto Von Krupp and The Great Malenko and was one of few Jewish wrestlers during the glory days of Florida Championship Wrestling matches at the armory. Simon is hoping to preserve memory of those days by getting the commemorative wall display funded and has made contact with many wrestlers to get them to come to the event.

Simon said some wrestlers he was hoping to have there would not make it due to health reasons and other commitments. While he is expecting all those listed in the lineup to attend, the list can change due to unexpected circumstances, he said.

The lineup incudes Dory and Terry Funk, Danny Miller, Bugsy McGraw, Don Serrano, Kevin Sullivan, Rocky Johnson, Paul Orndroff, Fred Ottman (Tugboat), Sheamus, Ricky Steamboat, Stu Schwartz, Steve Keirn, Joe (Jody Simon) and Dean Malenko, Ron and Robert Fuller, Ric Flair, Greg Valentine, Roman Reigns, Tyson Kidd, Natalya Neidhart, Kofi Kingston, Chris Jericho, Ron Bass, Hector Guerrero, Brutus “the Butcher” Beefcake, and J.J. Dillon.

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