Wrestling's Captain Lou Albano was often imitated, never duplicated
The recent passing of legendary wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano struck a chord with members of a certain generation. Now in our mid-40s, we were part of the last group of wrestling fans to enjoy the sport before it became corrupted with Vince McMahan’s vulgar vision.
No need to stay up after bedtime, our heroes, Bob Backlund, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Tony Atlas and a legion of others were on display every Saturday morning. We were smart enough to know that some of what we were watching was fake, yet innocent enough to feel that at least part of it, at least the “Title” matches, were on the up and up. I’m sure some us still believe.
Captain Lou was part of a trio of legendary managers, including “Classy” Freddy Blassie and “The Grand Wizard” who ruled the wrestling landscape at the time.
Albano, with his trademark Hawaiian shirt, outrageous facial hair and rubber bands hanging from his cheek, managed one World Champion (Ivan Koloff) and led 15 different teams to the World Tag Team Title including the Valient Brothers, the Wild Samoans and the Moondogs.
His record speaks for itself.
Several readers checked in with their thoughts on the passing of a legend:
“A sad day indeed. It wasn't as traumatic as when the Hollywood Fashion Plate `Classy’ Freddie Blassie went up to the big squared circle in the sky a few years ago, but it’s still tough anytime one of the classics is gone.” -Tim Boucher
“Captain Lou's legacy will always be remembered for bringing rock and roll and wrestling together. I remembered one Pipers Pit when Roddy told Cindy Lauper to shove the Goonies up her nose. Thank goodness Captain Lou was there to defend Cindy and be the voice of reason.” -Steve Osiecki
“I thought he was already dead.” -Kevin Quinn
“Many people forget how turbulent the relationship was between wresting and rock and roll at tha time. Mean Jean Okerlund was begging for the feud to end and asked who could step forward and end the madness. We were close to living in a world where wrestling and rock and roll would forever be split. All our prayers were answered when Captain Lou grabbed the torch and was truly an ambassador for wrestling, working feverishly behind the scenes to negotiate a wresting/rock and roll truce. Without Captain Lou, I doubt very much if the wresting/rock and roll relationship as we know it today would exist. Think hard about that!” - Steve Osiecki
“I must admit, in light of all his other accomplishments, I had forgotten about the Captain's efforts in forever unifying these factions. Many have compared his role to that of Jimmy Carter, bringing Sadat & Begin to the table at Camp David in the late 70s.” - Joe Walton
"Top 10 most entertaining people of pro wrestling:
"1. Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka, 2. Hollywood Hulk Hogan, 3. Rowdy Roddy Piper, 4. Captain Lou Albano, 5. Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, 6. Vince McMahon, 7. Nature Boy Rick Flair, 8. Classy Fred Blassie, 9. Andre The Giant, 10. The Rock – Kevin Quinn
“High School friends who have all grown up and moved on with their own separate lives, careers, and families, yet forever bonded by the vivid memories of Captain Lou elegantly walking to the ring to provide guidance and inspiration to finely tuned athletes such as the Wild Samoans or the Moondogs.” -Tim Boucher
O Captain! My Captain!
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won; 20
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
-- Walt Whitman
John Quattrucci writes for the Norton Mirror in Norton, Mass. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.