Terry Funk was never a bully, but he learned from his father at a very young age that you need to protect the business. So if he was ever in public and someone questioned if wrestling was real, Terry made sure to prove it to him that it was real.
Fight: Terry Funk vs Civilian
Date: Late 1970s
Location: Whiskey River in Amarillo, TX
Source: Bill Apter’s “Is Wrestling Fixed?” podcast
Manny Fernandez knew the Funk family well, both from his days in Florida and in Texas before he went to the NWA. He came to know Terry Funk’s wife, Vicki Funk, and called her a great woman who was very well respected. According to Manny, if Vicki said you were going to make it in this business, then you were going to make it. The same could be said for Terry, as he was also well known for his keen eye for talent.
During one of their road trips, Manny was with Terry and Vicki Funk at the Whiskey River in Amarillo (which is still there today). As usual, a loudmouth there was talking crap about wrestling, which wasn’t uncommon in those days. Manny looked over at him and thought, ‘Oh boy, this guy’s fixing to get his butt kicked.’ It’s a scene he had seen too many times before, as Manny is loaded with stories of crazy bar fights he and Dick Murdoch and Blackjack Mulligan would get into with local drunks at the bar.
Terry was trying to calm the guy down, telling him, “Don’t do it, don’t do it.” Manny wasn’t clear on what he meant by that, but Terry was probably trying to convince the guy not to try anything funny. As he was talking to the guy, Terry somehow tied his hand to his own hand. Or perhaps he just grabbed his hand, as it would seem to be difficult to tie a guy’s hand while talking to him without him knowing it.
Regardless of how it happened, Terry now had control of the guy’s hand. Wrestlers were always taught to never throw the first punch, because that makes them guilty of assault. If they get hit first, they can then beat the guy senseless under the guise of “self defense.” Terry knew this, so he took the guy’s hand and hit himself with it. In other words, he technically “punched” Terry with his hand, but he wasn’t controlling his own hand. So just imagine Terry hitting himself in the face, except instead of using his own hand to do it, he used the other guy’s hand.
Now that the other guy had “punched” him, Terry had free reign to do what he wanted. According to Manny, Terry “beat the Hell out of” the guy. The cops were called, and because the other guy had “hit” him first, he was arrested. Terry and Manny must’ve been laughing their asses off, as the guy didn’t really hit anyone, and was just mouthing off instead, but still got his ass beaten AND got arrested.
Furthermore, Terry and the Funk family were an institution in Amarillo, so the cops were not going to do anything to them. The guy was powerless and in a no-win situation. Still, he put himself in that situation by mouthing off in the first place. Had he just kept his mouth shut, he’d have avoided jail and avoided a beatdown.
Score one for the Funker, this was brilliant.