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.
Mulligan: Sure, thanks
. You know, I’ve got some good buddies that are still
around up your way (in Richmond, Virginia).
Hebner lives up there somewhere…
(laughs) Yeah…when the WWE comes to Richmond now, I think Earl (Hebner) gets a bigger pop than
Well…a good place to start, as they say, is at the
beginning! When did you break into professional
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.
Weren’t you injured during your NFL days?
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.
So, professional wrestling followed for you after
your football career was cut short by injury?
I got together with (wrestling promoter) Joe
Blanchard in San Antonio, and started working out. Joe
Blanchard actually did the initial training of me.
Wahoo…Wahoo McDaniel was really the one who got me
going in wrestling.
Wahoo was kind of like my high school idol…
You all grew up close to each other in Texas, right?
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.
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.
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.
Didn’t you wrestle some in the AWA in your early
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.
Where did you head after your stint in the AWA?
Basically, I got a call from Vince McMahon then. I
Windham’ at that point.
We’re talking about Vincent J. McMahon and the old
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.
what I did after Vince called, was that I went straight
up to New York as ‘Blackjack Mulligan.’
Where did the name ‘Mulligan’ come from?
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
Didn’t you first meet up with Lanza when you were
both in the AWA?
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)
Yep, you were a legit Cowboy! (everybody laughs)
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
I’d say the team worked out pretty well!
So…Lanza and I got together---the black boots and
the vests that he already had.
1969, I opened the new Madison Square Garden with a
sellout against Bruno
martino…I had a good run then with Bruno.
So, you headlined in the first wrestling card in the
new Madison Square Garden?
Yeah, the first card…I have some stuff from that
somewhere. It was me and Bruno.
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,
. I’m getting a little senile! (everybody laughs)
We’re only talking a mere 30-35 years ago!
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.
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.
But I guess getting stabbed derailed things for a
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.
Did you move to another territory after the stabbing
incident in Boston?
I wound up in Indianapolis, and popped that
territory…teaming with Lanza again. Then I went to
Texas, and did the Texas thing.
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.