Graphics design and interview presentation by Dick Bourne


Some have called him “Mr. Unpredictable.” Others have referred to him as “Mr. Excitement.” Still others just call him “Dirty.”

Dick Slater lives up to all those nicknames, and a whole lot more.


When Dick Slater entered Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in January of 1983, he had already established himself as a major star in the wrestling business. His battles in the ring as part of Jim Crockett Promotions only added to the lofty reputation he brought to Charlotte with him. Whether it was watching him go toe to toe with Greg Valentine, or conspire with Bob Orton, Jr. to injure Ric Flair and pave the way for the mega-card of Starrcade 1983, or seeing him bring out his own NWA World Heavyweight Title belt and declare himself the World Champ in early 1984, Dick Slater always gave the wrestling fans everything they were hoping to see…and usually a surprise or two on top of that!


Dick Slater has lived his life to the fullest, both in and out of the ring. Many of his highs have been very high, and some of his lows have been very low. In this enlightening interview, Dick not only talks about his battles inside the squared circle throughout his illustrious wrestling career, but candidly talks about his recent life’s battles. Slater has many fascinating things to say, and much more will be revealed soon in a book he’s working on, aptly entitled "A Thousand Lives." For now, the Mid-Atlantic Gateway is happy to provide you a small sample of the story Dick Slater has to tell us all.


The Gateway would like to express our thanks to Lisa Lostraglio for her efforts in linking us up with “Mr. Unpredictable” Dick Slater. Without Lisa, this interview would not have happened. The Gateway’s special friend, Peggy Lathan, also played a large role in Dick Slater’s visit into the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.


Dick Slater has not been to recent Fanfest type events to speak to wrestling fans, and basically hasn’t spoken out since his recent legal issues. The Gateway is proud that Dick chose the Mid-Atlantic Gateway to again talk about his career in wrestling, and the more recent unfortunate events that his name has been linked to.


Much like his wrestling days in the Mid-Atlantic area, when you read some of the things Dick has to say in this interview, you may like him or you may dislike him. There never was much of a middle ground with Dick Slater. One thing I’m surer of is, after reading this, you’ll likely agree that Dick Slater’s reputation for being a fighter and a tough guy is well deserved. And not only in the ring…but in the game of life.


David Chappell



David Chappell: Dick, I’m really delighted to have you talk with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. I appreciate your taking the time to chat a little bit tonight.


Dick Slater: I’ve been looking forward to it, David.


Chappell: Same here! Hope things are going well down in Tampa Bay and vicinity…at least hurricane season is over!


Well, to start, please tell us about your beginnings in wrestling if you would.


Slater: I actually started wrestling, Mike Graham and myself, in 1968. I started with Eddie Graham at Robinson High School.


Chappell: We’re talking about the Tampa, Florida area, right?


Slater: That’s right. There had never been a high school wrestling program in the state of Florida. What happened, is that Eddie Graham, who was a promoter here for Florida Championship Wrestling and Don Curtis, who was the promoter in Jacksonville, bought a wrestling mat for Robinson High School and actually started the high school wrestling program.


Chappell: I know you played football and wrestled for the University of Tampa, so obviously we now know you got into wrestling before your college days!


Slater: This was all before I went to the University of Tampa. What happened, is I was wrestling for what was called AAU---which was a wrestling organization that trained people to go from, say, college to the Olympics…


Chappell: Yes…


Slater: [AAU] was a different league all together, but it was a league that almost anybody could get into…if you were a college or high school athlete.


So, I was wrestling with them, and with Hiro Matsuda, who was the Japanese trainer…


Chappell: Right, I thought Hiro had trained you in the early days…


Slater: Yeah…I wanted to go try to get into the Olympics at that time. Then, I went to the University of Tampa and got on the wrestling team there. Plus, I was on the football team---so it was pretty hectic!


Chappell: I bet!


Slater: (laughs) Practices, twice a day. And sometimes it was two football practices, and then wrestling practice in one day…so that was three in a row!


Chappell: I’m interested…what position did you play in football?


Slater: I was a linebacker…


Chappell: (laughs) Honest…that would have been my guess! In the ring, you look like you had the make up of a linebacker!


Slater: I played middle linebacker in high school, and I also played some running fullback, not running with the ball, but running in front of somebody with the ball! (laughing)


Chappell: (laughs) You’re the one that cleared the way!


Slater: Yeah, the other guys did the running!


Chappell: How long did you stay at the University [of Tampa]?


Slater: Actually, they folded the football program there…


Chappell: Really?


Slater: Yeah, it was an academic school…and they decided to close football there. So, I decided not to play (football) anymore. Later, I had a chance to go down and play for the Miami Dolphins…but I decided I needed to take care of my family instead. I had to earn my way…I needed to go to work!


Chappell: What time frame are we talking about, Dick…when you had a chance to go with the Dolphins?


Slater: 1969 I graduated out of high school, so this would have been around ’71…


Chappell: The Dolphins were getting pretty good then!


Slater: Yeah…


Chappell: So, they were going to let you come in as a free agent…but you decided against it?


Slater: (pauses) The money wasn’t there, then. I wanted to go…could have gone.


Chappell: As you said before, you had to take care of your family.


Slater: That’s right.


Chappell: Now, when you were at the University of Tampa, didn’t you play with John Matuszak?


Slater: I did. John was the smart guy of the football team, you know? I was in most of his classes, and he would take most of my exams for me!


Chappell: (laughing) Come on!


He was a character, wasn’t he? I remember when he played for the Raiders.


Slater: Oh my God, he was pretty much of a character! Ol’ John really was!


Chappell: (laughs) And he had the brains on top of that!


Slater: Yeah! And Paul Orndorff was on the same team, you know?


Chappell: I was going to ask you about Orndorff…


Slater: Oh yeah…he played at Brandon High School, and I played at Robinson High School.


Chappell: They were big rivals in Tampa?


Slater: At one time they were…yeah.


Chappell: I’ve always heard that Orndorff was a tough customer…


Slater: He’s a tough man…and a good friend of mine. He’s having some back problems…like I’ve had. I talk to him frequently…he lives up in Atlanta, Georgia now.


Chappell: So you all still stay in touch…that’s good.


Slater: Yeah…we’re still close.


Chappell: We’ve talked about you participating in high school, college and AAU wrestling. How did you break into the professional wrestling ranks?


Slater: Well, I went to a National AAU meet and Don Curtis was the referee. I made it to the Finals, and wrestled this one guy and I lost, but it was so close.


What I learned collegiately…I was doing really well. You know, if I had a little bit more training and a little bit more experience…I could have won the National AAU’s.


Chappell: You really hadn’t been wrestling much at that point…


Slater: All I had been wrestling then was probably a year and a half of collegiate wrestling and AAU…so I was doing pretty good.


Chappell: Sounds like you were taking off fast…


Slater: I was close, you know, to being able to go to the Olympics at that point. I mean, I at least might have gone on a tryout basis.


But anyway, Mike Graham who was a good friend of mine…he asked me if I wanted to get into the business. I thought about it for a long time…and finally said. ‘Yeah!”


Chappell: Tell us about those early days.


Slater: I went back down to the Sportatorium here in Tampa, and started training to become a professional wrestler.


Chappell: Who was training you at the very beginning?


Slater: Jack Brisco, Bob Roop, Hiro Matsuda, Bill Watts…


Chappell: Wow! What a ‘Who’s Who!’



Slater: A whole bunch of people, who were really good teachers and professional wrestlers at that time.


Chappell: But Mike Graham was the person who really turned you toward professional wrestling?


Slater: Well, I was going to Ft. Lauderdale every Friday night with him, when he was running the town for his Dad…who was the promoter there.


Chappell: Right, Eddie…


Slater: I got to be around all the guys in the wrestling business. I started hangin’ around with Dick Murdock…


Chappell: (laughs) I bet there are some stories there!


Slater: (laughs) Yeah…Murdock was quite a guy! He was one of my best friends. I used to hang around Dick when I was in high school…matter of fact.