Douglas A. Baker Sr. (April 19, 1934 – October 20, 2014) was an American professional wrestler and actor, better known professionally as Ox Baker. He was famous for his Machiavellian eyebrows and finishing move, the Heart Punch, sometimes called the "Hurt Punch", after Baker's famous catchphrase "I love to hurt people!". He appeared in several movies including Blood Circus and Escape from New York.
Baker, the oldest of five siblings, began as an amateur high school wrestler, boxer and football player in his adopted hometown of Waterloo, Iowa before getting thrown out of school. He also played football for two years in the armed forces.
Professional wrestling career
Baker was trained by Buddy Austin, Pat O'Connor, and Bob Geigel, and debuted in 1964. As time went on he was winning a majority of his matches by knock out caused by the Heart Punch; he later renamed the move the Hurt Punch when Stan Stasiak, from who Baker adopted the move, objected. Initially debuting as a kind, horn-rimmed-glasses-wearing country simpleton, Baker later turned into a villain. He was known for his unique look with his shaved head and black bushy mustache and eyebrows and ability to cut a promo. He was also famous for wearing T-shirts to the ring, declaring himself "The Great Heart Puncher".
In 1967 Baker worked for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) as The Friendly Arkansas Ox. In his first appearance there, Baker teamed with Armand Hussein in a handicap match versus Gorilla Monsoon. Later on Baker went to fight in different promotions through North America, including Stampede Wrestling in Canada, the World Wrestling Council in Puerto Rico, and the United States-based American Wrestling Association throughout the 1970s. On June 13, 1971, Baker and his partner the Claw were wrestling in an AWA Midwest Tag Team Championship tag team match against Alberto Torres and “Cowboy” Bob Ellis in Verdigre, Nebraska. Torres was injured during the match and died three days later. Though evidence indicated that Torres died of a ruptured appendix, Baker's Heart Punch was blamed; the death was worked into Baker's wrestling persona, reinforcing his heel character. On August 1, 1972, Baker lost to Ray Gunkel. Following the match, Gunkel died in the locker room; his death was attributed to a blood clot, which broke off from a hematoma caused by Baker, which led to a heart attack. Again, the death was worked into Baker's character, and in 1974, Baker caused a riot in Cleveland, Ohio, for continually Heart Punching an opponent after the match was finished.
During his career he defeated "Cowboy" Bob Ellis for the World Wrestling Association's World Heavyweight Championship in Indianapolis and Carlos Colon for the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship in Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council. Baker beat The Sheik to win the Detroit version of the US Heavyweight title; he also won the NWA American Heavyweight Championship and the NWA Texas Heavyweight title several times. In addition, Baker was a multi-time tag team champion; he teamed with Ole Anderson and Skandor Akbar to capture tag team championships in the National Wrestling Alliance and National Wrestling Federation. Baker teamed with Chuck O'Connor to win the WWA World Tag Team Championship in 1976. He also teamed with Superstar Billy Graham to hold the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship. He is noted for a feud with Randy Savage in International Championship Wrestling, the southern promotion that Savage ran with his father Angelo Poffo and his brother Lanny Poffo. Late in his career, Baker appeared with Central States Wrestling as a face and feuded with Rip Rogers.
In 1988, Baker returned to the AWA. Under contract with The AWA through TRB Sports LLC, Baker teamed up with George Petraski, The Russian Brute, of ICW fame. The following year he opened "Ox Baker's Wrestling School", becoming a well-renowned trainer. His students include Mark Calaway, Bryan Clark. and NWA New England Superstar The Dark Angel and his Kayfabe twin brother Micky Byggs of Wrestling Spotlite Radio/TV. He also did commentary for some IWCCW events in the early 1990s. Baker made an appearance in Ring of Honor in 2004 during their At Our Best event, confronting Dusty Rhodes before the show started and again during the main event that Rhodes was involved in. Baker also made an appearance in Combat Zone Wrestling on December 8, 2007, at Cage of Death 9 as the guest of Cult Fiction (Halfbreed Billy Gram and Toby Klein). In December 2013, Baker returned to the ring to be crowned the CCW Champion after being a surprise entrant in a thirteen-man battle royal in Ohio.
Acting career and other media
Baker worked in movies from time to time, most notably in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He appeared as a fighter in Jackie Chan's The Big Brawl (1980) and as Kurt Russell's gladiatorial opponent in John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981). In addition, he was cast in the professional wrestling film named for his catch phrase, I Like to Hurt People. On January 19, 1981, Baker was a contestant on the game show The Price is Right. In 1985, Ox Baker played the Russian in the wrestling movie Blood Circus, and in 2013 appeared in Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear as The Butcher.
In 2005 a documentary on Baker's life and career was filmed, directed by Halfbreed Billy Gram, with the working title of I Love the People I Hurt: The Life and Legend of the Mighty Ox Baker. Also filmed during this time was a short comedy feature titled My Smorgasboard with Ox, co-written and co-starring Baker and Gram. Both remain in post-production.
In 2006 the North Carolina-based indie band the Mountain Goats released a song on their Babylon Springs EP titled "Ox Baker Triumphant" in which Baker is betrayed by the wrestling community and rises up to strike vengeance upon them.
In 2011, Baker self-published a cookbook, which included recipes and stories from his time in wrestling.
In 2015 Veteran Pro Wrestling out of Groton Connecticut had the first annual Ox Baker Memorial Cup. The winner for 2015 was Bad News Walter Swan and US Army Veteran The Patriot Paul Severe aka Jared Keefe. In 2016 the winner was Rescue 911 Christopher Annino.
Baker died on October 20, 2014 in Hartford, Connecticut, due to complications from a heart attack.
Championships and accomplishments
- All Star Pro Wrestling (New Zealand)
- NWA Australasian Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with King Kamaka
- American Wrestling Association
- AWA Midwest Tag Team Championship (3 times) – with Rock Rogowski (1), The Claw (1) and The Great Kusatsu (1)
- Atlantic Coast Wrestling
- ACW Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Purple Haze
- Big Time Wrestling
- NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Detroit Version) (1 time)
- Cauliflower Alley Club
- Other honoree (2002)
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- NWA Florida Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Superstar Billy Graham
- NWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (Florida version) (1 time)
- International Wrestling Association
- IWA North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling
- NWA Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Carl Fergie
- Mid-South Sports
- NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Skandor Akbar
- Midwest Championship Wrestling
- MCW International Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Big Time Wrestling
- NWA American Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- NWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- NWA Hollywood Wrestling
- NWA Americas Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Enforcer Luciano
- NWA World Tag Team Championship (Los Angeles version) (1 time) – with Enforcer Luciano
- NWA New Zealand
- NWA British Commonwealth Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- National Wrestling Federation
- NWF North American Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame
- Class of 2009
- Pro Wrestling Academy (Connecticut)
- Ox Baker "Old School" Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Ranked No. 360 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI Years in 2003
- Southeastern Championship Wrestling
- NWA Southeastern Heavyweight Championship (Southern Division) (1 time)
- Stampede Wrestling
- Stampede North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- World Championship Wrestling (Australia)
- NWA Austra-Asian Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Butcher Brannigan
- World Wrestling Association
- WWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Chuck O'Connor
- World Wrestling Council
- WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship (1 time)