Thunderbolt Patterson

Last updated
Thunderbolt Patterson
Birth nameClaude Patterson
Born (1941-07-08) July 8, 1941 (age 81)
Waterloo, Iowa [1]
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) K.O. Patterson
Sweet Daddy Brown
Thunderbolt Patterson
Billed from Atlanta, Georgia
Trained byPat O'Connor
Steve Kovacs
Debut1964 [1]

Claude Patterson (born July 8, 1941) is an American retired professional wrestler, ring name Thunderbolt Patterson. He began his career in 1964 and wrestled primarily in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. During the early 1970s, he was blacklisted by the National Wrestling Alliance for repeated appearances with independent promotions, complaints of institutional racism and attempts to form a wrestlers' labor union.


Professional wrestling career

Patterson had grown up in Iowa and worked for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa when he broke into professional wrestling in the Kansas City area. [1] Promoter Gus Karras put Patterson in matches against Don Soto in 1964. [1] In 1965, Patterson moved to Texas and worked with promoter Dory Funk Sr. [1] The following year, he traveled to California, where he held the WWA Tag Team Championship with Alberto Torres. [1] He also continued to work in Texas, where he worked as a villainous character in Dallas until he was turned on by his partner Boris Malenko. Fritz Von Erich had a Russian chain match with Malenko for Patterson's contract which Malenko owned. [1]

In 1969, he worked for Big Time Wrestling in Michigan and Ohio.

In 1970, he feuded with Jose Lothario and held the Florida version of the NWA Brass Knuckles Championship. [1]

Patterson agreed to work for an outlaw promotion (that is, one outside of the NWA) run by Ann Gunkel, the widow of his old friend and Georgia promoter Ray Gunkel, in January 1974. [1] In January 1975, he moved to Big Time Wrestling in Detroit. In December 1975, he began to wrestle for the NWA promotion in Florida where he remained until April 1976. In 1976, he won the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship from Bruiser Brody. [1] In 1977, he scored a surprise pinfall win over The Sheik in Toronto for the U.S. title but lost three weeks later. He then switched to Georgia Championship Wrestling where he remained until 1980.

He spoke out against poor working conditions for wrestlers in the 1970s and participated in a racial discrimination lawsuit. He has claimed that as a result, he was blacklisted from wrestling in the mid-1970s. [1] He had been complaining about racism from promoters for many years (he would later recall that only Dory Funk Sr. had backed him) and wanted to start a wrestlers' union, a dream he shared with former NFL player and wrestler Jim Wilson, himself blacklisted. He has said that it was years, with Patterson claiming to be working at the Los Angeles Times in the interim, before he has said his blacklisting was lifted, when Dusty Rhodes took ill in Florida in 1975.

Patterson joined Ole Anderson as a tag team partner in 1984 and they briefly held the NWA National Tag Team Championship. [1] Ole's kayfabe nephew, a young Arn Anderson, came to the sport, and Ole, saying he was "tired of carrying guys like Patterson and Dusty Rhodes" broke up with Patterson, and joined Arn in what would be the foundation for the Four Horsemen which would include NWA Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard.

Patterson retired from full time wrestling in 1985. He then appeared in the ring in 1993 at a "Legends Reunion Match" at Slamboree '93, where he teamed with Brad Armstrong to defeat Ivan Koloff and Baron von Raschke. [1] He would also mentor Ice Train, until retiring completely in 1994.

On July 27, 2019, Patterson was inducted the 2019 Class of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in his hometown of Waterloo.

Patterson is regularly mentioned by commentators Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino on the Ring of Honor wrestling promotion's Ring of Honor Wrestling syndicated television show.

Personal life

In 1988, he was a labor organizer for Service Employees International Union in Atlanta. [1]

After retiring from professional wrestling, he began running a Christian camp for children. [1] Patterson is also an ordained minister. [1]

Championships and accomplishments

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bruiser Brody</span> American professional wrestler and homicide victim

Frank Donald Goodish was an American professional wrestler who earned his greatest fame under the ring name Bruiser Brody. He also worked as King Kong Brody, The Masked Marauder, and Red River Jack. Over the years Brody became synonymous with the hardcore wrestling brawling style that often saw one or more of the participants bleeding by the time the match was over. In his prime he worked as a "special attraction" wrestler in North America, making select appearances for various promotions such as World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), Central States Wrestling (CSW), Championship Wrestling from Florida (CWF), and the American Wrestling Association (AWA) among others. He worked regularly in Japan for All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW).

Alan Robert Rogowski, better known by the ring name Ole Anderson, is an American retired professional wrestler, referee, manager, and promoter. Part of the Anderson family, Anderson was a founding member of the influential stable The Four Horsemen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">J. J. Dillon</span> American professional wrestler

James Morrison is an American retired professional wrestler and manager, better known by his ring name, J. J. Dillon.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baron von Raschke</span> American professional and amateur wrestler

James Donald Raschke is an American retired professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Baron von Raschke.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gerald Brisco</span> American professional wrestler and amateur wrestler

Floyd Gerald "Jerry" Brisco is an American retired professional wrestler. Brisco is best known for his time in the wrestling promotion WWE, where he was a backstage producer, and, during the 1990s, an on-screen character, working alongside Pat Patterson as the "stooges" for the Mr. McMahon character.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dory Funk</span> American professional wrestler

Dorrance Wilhelm Funk was an American professional wrestler. He is the father of wrestlers Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk, and was a promoter of the Amarillo, Texas-based Western States Sports promotion.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Killer Karl Kox</span> American professional wrestler

Herbert Alan Gerwig was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name of Killer Karl Kox, who competed in the National Wrestling Alliance as well as international promotions such as All Japan Pro Wrestling, the International Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling during the 1960s and 1970s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bill Watts</span> American professional wrestler and wrestling promoter

William F. Watts Jr. is a retired American professional wrestler, promoter and former American football player. Watts garnered fame under his "Cowboy" gimmick in his wrestling career, and then as a promoter in the Mid-South United States, which grew to become the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mr. Wrestling</span> American professional wrestler

George Burrell Woodin was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring names, Mr. Wrestling and Tim Woods.

Robert Michael Roop is an American retired amateur wrestler and professional wrestler whose career spanned high school, college, the United States Army, amateur and professional wrestling. He was an American heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler at the 1968 Summer Olympics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iron Mike DiBiase</span> American professional wrestler

Michael DiBiase was an American professional wrestler, also known by his ring name "Iron" Mike DiBiase. The adoptive father of professional wrestler "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, he was married to Ted's mother Helen Hild, and was the grandfather of Mike, Ted Jr., and Brett DiBiase.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Boris Malenko</span> American professional wrestler

Lawrence J. Simon, better known by the ring name, Boris Malenko, was an American professional wrestler and professional wrestling trainer. He is best known for his appearances with Championship Wrestling from Florida and Big Time Wrestling in the 1960s and 1970s as a Russian heel. He was the father of professional wrestlers Joe Malenko and Dean Malenko.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ray Gunkel</span> American professional wrestler, promoter

Raymond Fred "Ray" Gunkel was an American amateur and professional wrestler and promoter in the state of Georgia. Gunkel was a two-time AAU national champion and, as a professional, a three-time NWA Texas Heavyweight Champion. He died of heart trauma after a match in Savannah, Georgia in which he defeated Ox Baker.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wild Bill Longson</span> American professional wrestler (1906-1982)

Willard Rowe Longson was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, Wild Bill Longson. He spent most of his career in St. Louis, Missouri. He perfected the role of the arrogant heel, and is credited with inventing and popularizing the piledriver.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tony Borne</span> American professional wrestler

Anthony Wayne Osborne was an American professional wrestler, better known by his ring name, "Tough" Tony Borne.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dr. Bill Miller</span> American professional wrestler (1927–1997)

William M. Miller was an American professional wrestler. He is a one time American Wrestling Association world champion and also wrestled in the National Wrestling Alliance, the World Wrestling Association in Indianapolis and the World Wide Wrestling Federation.

Raul Molina was a Mexican-born professional wrestler better known by his ring name of El Mongol. He was most famous in the Georgia territory during the late 1960s and early '70s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bearcat Wright</span> American professional wrestler (1932–1982)

Edward M. Wright was an American professional wrestler who became popular in the late 1950s and 1960s. Despite racial tension in the United States, he became wildly popular as a babyface. Wrestling in either singles competition or in tag team competition, thousands of fans would pack arenas to see him. He was the son of boxer Ed "Bearcat" Wright, and had an 8–0 record as a professional boxer himself in the early 1950s, boxing as "Bearcat Wright Jr."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ricky Hunter</span> Canadian professional wrestler (1936–2022)

Charles B. Sprott was a Canadian professional wrestler, better known by his ring names Ricky Hunter and the masked wrestler The Gladiator. He was best known for his title-winning success in Championship Wrestling from Florida in the late 1960s, and for his stint from the mid-1980s in the World Wrestling Federation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dale Lewis (wrestler)</span> American wrestler

Dale Folsom Lewis was an American wrestler who competed in the Greco-Roman heavyweight division at the 1956 and 1960 Olympics. He won the 1959 Pan-American Games in this event.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Johnson, Steven (August 14, 2008). "Thunderbolt Patterson still 'on top'". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
  2. Johnson, Mike (May 21, 2019). "2019 Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class Announced". PWInsider. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  3. Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Fritz Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN   978-0-9698161-5-7.
  4. "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Retrieved January 19, 2020.