When one talks about and thinks back to the meteoric rise of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling territory in the mid and late 1970s, several names and personalities come to mind. Booker George Scott, Ric Flair and Johnny Valentine are almost always mentioned in that conversation. But probably the most important person of all in the territory’s rise to preeminence, was a big Cowboy from Sweetwater, Texas by the name of Robert Windham. Better known to most of us as Blackjack Mulligan.


In the dark days immediately after the Wilmington, North Carolina plane crash in October of 1975, Jim Crockett Promotions was scrambling to replace its top two singles performers, Valentine and Flair, who had gone down in that airplane. More to the point, George Scott was frantically attempting to keep his territory afloat, and to prevent over a year of steady progress under his watch from going down the drain. Who did Scott turn to in this hour of desperate need? It would be Blackjack Mulligan.


 With Blackjack on board, the territory not only survived that immediate period of crisis…it took off, and it took off big. Mulligan was a fixture in the area straight through into 1981. It is no coincidence that those years were the best in the territory’s existence, and arguably the greatest run of any area during the territorial days of professional wrestling.

This interview is not confined to Blackjack’s time in the Mid-Atlantic area, nor to merely professional wrestling in the ring. Thanks to Blackjack, you will read things here about his professional and personal life that you will not find anywhere else. This is not due to any special skill of the interviewer, but rather to the open and engaging manner in which Blackjack approached this visit with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. Many, many thanks Blackjack!


So…everybody, saddle up. You’re fixin’ to head out on quite a ride with the Jack, Blackjack Mulligan!


David Chappell

Our special thanks to the one and only Blackjack Mulligan for the time he has given to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.



David Chappell: Blackjack, thanks so much for talking with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway this evening. You are, without a doubt, one of the all-time favorites for many of the folks who visit our site.


Blackjack Mulligan: Sure, thanks David . You know, I’ve got some good buddies that are still around up your way (in Richmond, Virginia). David Hebner lives up there somewhere…


Chappell: (laughs) Yeah…when the WWE comes to Richmond now, I think Earl (Hebner) gets a bigger pop than anybody there!


Mulligan: (laughing)


Chappell: Well…a good place to start, as they say, is at the beginning! When did you break into professional wrestling?


Mulligan: In 1967. In ‘67, I had come out of (professional) football…I was playing with the New York Jets. I had come from Denver to New York.


Chappell: Weren’t you injured during your NFL days?


Mulligan: Yeah…I was hurt. I had a compound fracture of the left leg. I’m actually retired, medically retired, from the AFL…which is now the NFL as you said---they’re all together now. After the injury, I did briefly try to crossover and go back to football with New Orleans…but if I was a horse they would have shot me---the leg was that bad. So, football was over.


Chappell: So, professional wrestling followed for you after your football career was cut short by injury?


Mulligan: I got together with (wrestling promoter) Joe Blanchard in San Antonio, and started working out. Joe Blanchard actually did the initial training of me.


But Wahoo…Wahoo McDaniel was really the one who got me going in wrestling.


Chappell: Really?


Mulligan: Wahoo was kind of like my high school idol…


Chappell: You all grew up close to each other in Texas, right?


Mulligan: I was like a freshman in high school when he was a senior…he was at Midland High, and I came out of Odessa High. Just down the road from each other…about 20 miles. So we knew each other.


One day, Wahoo asked me to pick him up from the airport. He was playing (professional) football, but he also wrestled some then too. He said, ‘You should get into this (professional) wrestling…you were an amateur wrestler in high school and college.’ Before that, I hadn’t even thought about professional wrestling.


To make a long story short, Wahoo was the one who introduced me to Joe Blanchard. And Joe started training me, with Floyd Emerson…I was living on the beach in Corpus Christi, Texas then.


Chappell: Didn’t you wrestle some in the AWA in your early wrestling days?


Mulligan: Yes. They made a call to Verne Gagne. Golly…I spent a good year and a half with Verne…out in the ‘Villes’ and the ‘Burgs’ and the veteran’s clubs and the bars! All those places that you would go up in the AWA.


Chappell: Where did you head after your stint in the AWA?


Mulligan: Basically, I got a call from Vince McMahon then. I was ‘ Bob Windham’ at that point.


Chappell: We’re talking about Vincent J. McMahon and the old WWWF, right?


Mulligan: Right. (Blackjack) Lanza and I got together…Lanza was a like a main eventer when I was going there. And Lanza asked me to become his partner.


So, what I did after Vince called, was that I went straight up to New York as ‘Blackjack Mulligan.’


Chappell: Where did the name ‘Mulligan’ come from?


Mulligan: We picked the name ‘Mulligan,’ because ‘Mulligan’ was really the name of my great-uncle from Sweetwater, Texas. He was really an old-time fighter/boxer there…Jerry Mulligan. So, I just took that name.


Chappell: Didn’t you first meet up with Lanza when you were both in the AWA?


Mulligan: He was there in the AWA, and I just loved the Western [gimmick] he was doing. That Western thing was a natural for me, because I was the real deal! (laughs)


Chappell: Yep, you were a legit Cowboy! (everybody laughs)


Mulligan: Jack (Lanza) was from Albuquerque, and he was already a top main eventer in St. Louis and everything, so we made the deal that when I’d come to New York we’d team up and see what happened. Just play it by ear.


Chappell: I’d say the team worked out pretty well!


Mulligan: So…Lanza and I got together---the black boots and the vests that he already had.


In 1969, I opened the new Madison Square Garden with a sellout against Bruno Sam martino…I had a good run then with Bruno.


Chappell: So, you headlined in the first wrestling card in the new Madison Square Garden?


Mulligan: Yeah, the first card…I have some stuff from that somewhere. It was me and Bruno.


Then they switched the title to Morales, Pedro Morales, and I was one of the first guys at the Boson Garden to get cut real bad there. That was in 1970 or 1971…I’ll be vague on these dates, David . I’m getting a little senile! (everybody laughs)


Chappell: We’re only talking a mere 30-35 years ago! (laughs)


Mulligan: Yeah! This was the one where the guy comes in the ring and stabs me. Gorilla Monsoon was in the ring. (The Grand Wizard) Ernie Roth was my manager.


We were just major hot. It was the first time that Ernie Roth had managed anybody other than the Sheik. They put Ernie and me together, and we were the magic combo. This little goofy looking guy Ernie Roth, together with a big ol’ Cowboy! We sold out everywhere.


Chappell: But I guess getting stabbed derailed things for a while?


Mulligan: When the guy got me with the knife in Boston Garden, in 1970 or ’71, somewhere in there, that kind of shut me down for that period. But I went on rehab, and did well with that.


Chappell: Did you move to another territory after the stabbing incident in Boston?


Mulligan: I wound up in Indianapolis, and popped that territory…teaming with Lanza again. Then I went to Texas, and did the Texas thing.


By the time I got to about 1975, I had about run the course with the tag team thing. I told Jack that I just sort of wanted to go out on my own and try it. We always had that agreement, that understanding between us.