Blackjack Mulligan – The Night He Was Almost Slain in the Ring

Blackjack Mulligan

Photo Credit: WWE.

Blackjack Mulligan was a West Texas roughneck who was known to take no nonsense from anybody. He even once stood his ground against Andre the Giant and Ole Anderson! But on one fateful night in Boston in 1971, he was unable to protect himself.

History of Blackjack Mulligan

Photo Credit: WWE.

Born in Sweetwater, Texas, the imposing stature of Blackjack Mulligan (6-feet, 8-inches tall, and 320 pounds) made him an intimidating figure inside the ring, and he was tough enough outside of it to be one of the top heels in wrestling.

…until he met Pedro Morales for the WWWF (now WWE) world championship on May 15, 1971, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pedro Morales Role in Shaping Blackjack

Photo Credit: WWE.

Morales was a fiery babyface, and his Latin fanbase was so rabid in its support that heels were getting too much heat. That night in the old Boston Garden, a fan jumped Mulligan as he headed for the ring. The result? A bloodbath.

Here’s how the Boston Globe revisited the story back in 2005:

"A male spectator wielding a knife hopped the guardrail as Mulligan climbed into the ring. The fan stabbed Mulligan in the thigh, opening gushing wounds. The crowd, many of whom initially froze, realized the episode wasn’t part of the show when Gorilla Monsoon, a wrestler then known as a "good guy," raced to attend to Mulligan, who, according to wrestling logic, he should have hated. Towels on Mulligan’s wounds quickly reddened as he was carried from the ring to receive 100 stitches at the hospital."

A Fan Enters the Ring

Photo Credit: WWE.

Sheldon Goldberg, a fan in attendance that night who would go on to own New England Championship Wrestling, told the Globe that the heat Blackjack Mulligan was generating that night was off the charts. But that was nothing unusual for a Pedro Morales match.

"People really lived or died with Morales," Goldberg said. "The people were so demonstrative in their affection for him. They would go crazy, and they hated Blackjack Mulligan."

Mulligan told Mid-Atlantic Gateway that he and his manager were white-hot all around the territory. The angry crowd in Boston wasn’t exactly unexpected.

Mulligan Talks About the Scene

Photo Credit: WWE.

"We were just major hot," Mulligan said. "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 this went beyond heat. The attacker caught the big cowboy in the leg and arm with a stiletto-type knife. In the aftermath, Mulligan–who was only into his fourth year as a pro wrestler–lay on the mat, blood pooling from stab wounds to his leg and arm. Special referee Gorilla Monsoon rushed to help the downed grappler.

Bobby Heenan Walks Us Through The Moment

Photo Credit: WWE.

"Boston was a violent town," Bobby Heenan wrote in his book, Bobby The Brain: Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All. "Mind you, if you take Gorilla’s glasses off, he can’t see how many people are in a room. A fan jumped into the ring with a stiletto and stabbed Mulligan up the leg. Mulligan reached out for the guy but got cut up the arm. Monsoon, blind as a bat, grabbed the guy and threw him out of the ring without knowing that the guy cut anybody."

But the news got worse from there. Not only had the culprit slashed Mulligan, but the attacker had also taken extra steps to make sure the damage from the injuries would be as nasty as possible.

As If It Could Get Worse

Photo Credit: WWE.

"We took Mulligan to the hospital to get sewn up, but his cut became infected," Heenan wrote. "The ‘fan’ had dipped his knife in pig fat. It took 100 stitches to close up that leg."

Not to dispute Heenan’s account–he wasn’t in the territory at the time–but it was reportedly territory star Bulldog Brower who got Mulligan the medical aid he needed.

The Aftermath of the Blackjack Mulligan Attack

Photo Credit: WWE.

"Fellow wrestler ‘Bulldog’ Brower took Mulligan to his hotel room to bandage him up. Mulligan recalled, Brower, taking out his pistol ready to shoot at angry fans who were gathering at the hotel still thirsty for blood. Brower managed to sneak Mulligan out of the hotel and drove all the way to New Jersey, where at this point, Mulligan’s wounds had become infected, and was in dire condition. Thankfully, the doctors were able to clear out the infections and sealed up his wounds. Mulligan would recover and continue his feud with Morales across the eastern seaboard."

Escaping Retrobution

Photo Credit: WWE.

Mulligan’s attacker was never caught, but the stabbing resulted in new security measures at the Boston Garden, with attendees–even children–being patted down before they were allowed into the building. It didn’t matter. The Boston fans were still wild about wrestling.

Heenan Describes Fan Treatment

Photo Credit: WWE.

"The Boston fans would throw frozen hard-boiled eggs in the ring," Heenan wrote. "They could pick you off at 500 yards. The management put a plastic shield around the ring. The fans got more creative, with one of them throwing a trumpet in the ring. They put a screen net over the ring, but no one could outsmart the Boston fans. They started throwing big, 20-penny nails."

Blackjack Mulligan’s Side of the Story

Photo Credit: WWE.

Mulligan, for his part, was reasonably stoic about the event.

"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," Mulligan said. "But I went on rehab and did well with that."

Mulligan would go on to star in territories from the AWA to Georgia, Florida, and Mid-Atlantic. For a time, he owned Southeastern Championship Wrestling in Knoxville, along with Ric Flair. Mulligan passed away in April 2016, at age 73.

12 Times The WWE Failed To Recognize Talent: Notable Hall Of Fame Omissions

These twelve legends are more than worthy of a WWE Hall of Fame induction but have been done wrong despite being on Vince's radar for years.
Photo Credit: WWE.

We pay tribute to the legends who were done wrong by Vince McMahon, despite being clearly on his radar. Sadly, many of them will never receive this honor.

Read: 12 All-Time Legends the WWE Hall of Fame Did Wrong

Rick Rude: A Ravishing Man with a Tragic End

Rick Rude was more than "Ravishing."
Photo Credit: WWE.

“He refused to budge.”

Rick Rude was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of wrestler. He went by the nickname “Ravishing” — and rightfully so. He had a solid moveset, great looks, and unbridled arrogance with the in-ring skill to back it up. He played hard in the ring but even harder out of it.

Learn His Tragic Story.

Wrestling Injuries That Ended Careers Too Soon

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro with some tandem offense on Kofi Kingston.
Photo Credit: WWE.

“When I hit the mat, I knew my neck was broken and that I was paralyzed.”

These individuals’ lives were irrevocably altered while doing what they loved.

Greg Valentine’s Defiant Act Behind The WWE Intercontinental Championship Belt

Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title
Photo Credit: WWE.

When Greg Valentine and Tito Santana met on July 6, 1985, in a steel cage in Baltimore, Maryland, Santana got the victory to reclaim the title. Valentine responded by retrieving the championship and destroying the belt, beating it repeatedly against the cage and tearing the gold away from the leather.

"I had to give the belt back to Tito after that angle," Valentine said. "And one day, when I saw him a few years ago, I asked whatever became of that belt, because Tito kept it after that angle. What he responded with broke my heart.”

Read: Greg Valentine on His Career and the Tragic Fate of His Destroyed IC Title

Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

RIP Owen Hart (1965-1999).

VINCE McMAHON: “Earlier that day, I was shocked and surprised by what Owen said.”

On May 23rd, 1999, the wrestling world mourned the loss of Owen Hart. People behind the scenes on this unthinkable day reflect on the tragedy, answering the all-important questions.

Learn more in Owen Hart’s Death: What Really Happened, From Those There

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Bobby Mathews is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories as well as a veteran journalist whose byline has appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Birmingham News, The Denver Post, as well as other newspapers around the country. He's won multiple awards for reporting and opinion writing, and his sports journalism has garnered several Associated Press Managing Editors Awards. He has covered Division I college athletics and professional sports including MLB and NFL games. He has won awards from press associations in several states, including a General Excellence award from the Georgia Press Association while sports editor at The Statesboro Herald. He currently lives in suburban Birmingham, Alabama and can be reached on Twitter @bamawriter.