Blackjack Mulligan, who passed away at age 73 in 2016, was one of the legitimate tough guys in professional wrestling during an era filled with them. Mulligan, the real-life grandfather to Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, wrestled during the height and the downfall of the territorial era in professional wrestling and wrestled as a star in the major promotions of the time including the WWWF and Jim Crockett Promotions. While he may not have been on the winning side of every fight he was in, he was never scared to throw a punch over an action he felt deserved that response. After he finished his in-ring career, Blackjack Mulligan would work behind the scenes as an agent and trainer where he continued to have no fear of throwing a punch if someone deserved it. Two stories highlight this with one story from his time as a wrestler when he literally punched a giant in the face and another during his time as a WCW office employee when he punched another former wrestler with a legitimate tough reputation for sullying the name of Eric Bischoff.
Our story comes from a TitleMatch shoot interview with Manny Fernandez, a former wrestler in the AWA and other promotions during the territory era. Manny stated that one night he got drunk together with Blackjack Mulligan and Andre the Giant after he drove them to his apartment, where he witnessed this infamous punch occur, in his tiny car after a Battle Royal. Manny states during this shoot interview that:
“Andre calls everybody boss but Andre decided he wants me to drink two fingers tequila. Well here is this Mexican kid, drink tequila, drink tequila! I brought out a shot glass but he brought out a glass and he’s filling up the glass, making sure I drink the whole glass. About three glasses later, I was on my butt on the floor while (Andre the Giant) and Blackjack Mulligan were playing cribbage. In the old days, guys were so simple. They went to the dressing room, and they didn’t talk about their match, they played cribbage. That was done in the dressing room, they played for points. A guy loses $10, $12, or whatever, that’s what they did!
“Well, that night whatever happened in cribbage, Blackjack Mulligan reached across my table and punched Andre the Giant in the face! Bam!
“I’m on the ground going, ‘Oh no!’ and that big giant just laughed! Andre just said, ‘Oh okay boss, we fight now.’ Then, bam! Mulligan then shot off like you see in the movies with shotguns. Geez, these guys went at it and tore up my apartment. Tore it up!”
While Blackjack did not knock out Andre the Giant with this punch, according to Manny Fernandez, they seemed to have a pretty crazy price in his apartment. I think it would be safe to assume that he lost his security deposit after this melee started after Blackjack Mulligan decided to punch a giant in the face over a game of cribbage!
The second story comes from the Ric Flair and Conrad Thompson Podcast with special guest Eric Bischoff who described the time Blackjack Mulligan punched Ole Anderson in the face for badmouthing Eric behind his back. Eric stated in that interview:
“Funny we’re talking about Ole. You know, and I told this story before, but it’s worth telling again especially here because you knew him so well. You knew Blackjack Mulligan as well. You were close to him. I got hired and after I got a little bit of control and kind of was in management, I liked Ole! You know, he was very much like Verne Gagne. He was just so stubborn and pigheaded — there was something about him that I just really liked and respected. He certainly was not an office, CNN center, South Tower kind of a guy but I didn’t want to lose him either so I sent him down to the PowerPlant. I know he can’t hurt anything down there and he really was good at teaching because he was passionate about the art form. I thought well that’s a good place for him, he’ll be happier.
“I moved him down there but I had also had recently hired Blackjack Mulligan. I did it- I don’t want to say as a favor because that’s disrespectful- I wasn’t looking to hire someone like Blackjack, but he came along at a certain time. I don’t remember who it was that told me, but he was a little bit down on his luck and I thought you know with all the years of skill and experience and all that, he’d be a good guy to have down at the PowerPlant so I hired him. Blackjack was a very, very loyal guy. One day, Ole didn’t like the fact that I moved him out of the South Towers and the fact that I was gaining control, he just resented it. I understood and I didn’t take it personally.
“Ole Anderson made a mistake of going down to the PowerPlant bad-mouthing me up one and down the other telling everybody what a piece of crap I was. Blackjack Mulligan was there and knocked him out!
During this same interview, Ric Flair would discuss how he witnessed Blackjack punch or slap Ole on five different occasions. Flair also discussed how he sucker punched Harley Race and Andre the Giant but quit his job as an agent, before Eric was hired, after an encounter with Lex Luger’s ego that rubbed him the wrong way. If only Lex knew how close he was to receive a giant fist to his face.
While these stories show the Blackjack was a tough guy willing to throw a punch, this last story shows his loyalty to a man, who some despise but hired him in a time of need. May the great Blackjack Mulligan rest in peace.
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