Dick the Bruiser
Birth name William Fritz Afflis
Born June 27, 1929(1929-06-27)
Delphi, Indiana, United States
Died November 10, 1991(1991-11-10) (aged 62)[1]
Tampa, Florida, United States
Cause of death Internal bleeding
Alma mater Purdue University
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Afflis
Dick the Bruiser
Richard Afflis
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[2]
Weight 261 lb (118 kg)[2]
Billed from Reno, Nevada[2]
Trained By Verne Gagne
Joe Pazandak
Debut 1954[2]
Retired 1986

  William Fritz Afflis (June 27, 1929 – November 10, 1991) was an American professional wrestler and football player, better known by his ring name, Dick the Bruiser.

Early lifeEdit

Born in Delphi, Indiana, Afflis grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, graduating from Lafayette Jefferson High School where he played football and wrestled. Afflis went on to attend Purdue University, where he played varsity football.

American football careerEdit

Afflis played American football for the Green Bay Packers as a lineman in the early 1950s.[2]

Professional wrestling careerEdit

Afflis started his career in Chicago in 1955 under the Bruiser moniker where he faced Verne Gagne and Lou Thesz. From there into the late 1950s, Dick the Bruiser wrestled live every Thursday on TV in the Detroit area. His typical opponent was "an up and coming young (unknown) wrestler" who would be pulverized by the Bruiser. His matches and interviews were so effective he became a household name in the Detroit area. His only defeat on live TV was at the hands of Cowboy Bob Ellis. However, in two rematches with Ellis at the Olympia in Detroit, the Bruiser was victorious. A real bar fight with football player Alex Karras gained Afflis attention, which resulted in several more fights.

Afflis, along with fellow wrestler and business partner Wilbur Snyder, purchased the Indianapolis NWA promotion in 1964 from its longtime owner Jim Barnett. Afflis renamed the territory the World Wrestling Association (WWA) and promoted himself as its champion. While he ran it as an independent promotion with its own titles and champion, the WWA had a working agreement with the larger AWA (owned by wrestler Verne Gagne), sharing talent and recognizing their championships. This agreement benefited both promotions and led to the Bruiser having multiple AWA Tag-Team Title reigns, primarily with tag team partner, The Crusher, who was billed as his "cousin". The Bruiser was the first to christen Manager Bobby Heenan with the nickname of "The Weasel"[2] during his run in the territory. Afflis' WWA ran from 1964 until 1989, when Afflis finally tired of losing talent, TV, and fan attendance to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).

Afflis, with his charisma, NFL notoriety, and gravelly-voiced, tough-guy persona was a legitimate cross-media star, becoming something of a hero in the Indianapolis area. He made his home on the northwest side of the city. Indianapolis native David Letterman would later name his television show's band The World's Most Dangerous Band as a derivation of Dick the Bruiser's nickname, "The World's Most Dangerous Wrestler." The moniker "Dick the Bruiser" was even used in the 1980s by George Baier, a co-host of the morning drive show on Detroit rock radio station WRIF. Baier's "Richard T. Bruiser" was an effective, entertaining impersonation of Afflis, who actually played himself in a number of popular TV ads for WRIF.

After retiring, Afflis was a color commentator for the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW), founded by David McLane, who had previously risen through the ranks as a teenager to manage the WWA for The Bruiser. He also worked as a talent agent for World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and was the special guest referee at the Starrcade 1990 main event between Sting and the Black Scorpion.


Afflis died of internal bleeding on November 10, 1991, according to a spokesman for Suncoast Hospital in Largo, Florida, near his winter home. His widow, Louise, said her husband had been weightlifting at home with his adopted son, Jon Carney, and ruptured a blood vessel in his esophagus. He was entombed at Washington Park North Cemetery in Indianapolis.

In wrestlingEdit

  • Finishing moves
    • Atomic drop
    • Diving knee drop
  • Nicknames
    • "Bruiser"
    • "The World's Most Dangerous Wrestler"

Championships and accomplishmentsEdit

  • American Wrestling Alliance
    • AWA World Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Wilbur Snyder[3]
  • American Wrestling Association
    • AWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[4]
    • AWA World Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with The Crusher[5]
    • World Heavyweight Championship (Omaha version) (1 time)[6]
    • AWA United States Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
  • Japan Wrestling Association
  • NWA Chicago
    • NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Chicago version) (1 time)[8]
    • NWA World Tag Team Championship (Chicago version) (1 time) – with Gene Kiniski
  • NWA Detroit
    • NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Detroit version) (4 times)
  • NWA Mid-Pacific Promotions
    • NWA United States Heavyweight Championship (Hawaii version) (1 time)[9]
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • PWI Tag Team of the Year (1972) with The Crusher
  • Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
    • (Class of 2005) – Tag Team with Crusher
    • (Class of 2011) – Television Era[10]
  • St. Louis Wrestling Club
    • NWA Missouri Heavyweight Championship (3 times)[11]
  • St. Louis Wrestling Hall of Fame
    • (Class of 2007)
  • World Championship Wrestling
    • WCW Hall of Fame (Class of 1994)[12]
  • World Wrestling Association
    • WWA World Heavyweight Championship (13 times)[13]
    • WWA World Tag Team Championship (15 times) – with The Crusher (6), Wilbur Snyder (3), Bruno Sammartino (1), Bill Miller (1), Spike Huber (1), Jeff Van Kamp (1), Bobby Colt (1) and Calypso Jim (1)[14]
  • Worldwide Wrestling Associates
    • WWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[15]
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1996)
  • Other titles
    • World Heavyweight Championship (Georgia version) (1 time)[16]


  1. 'Dick The Bruiser,' 62, Dies In Florida . Retrieved on 2015-08-16.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 (2009) WWE Encyclopedia. DK, 79. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0. 
  3. American Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Title history At
  4. AWA World Heavyweight Title history At
  5. AWA World Tag Team Title history At
  6. World Heavyweight Title (Omaha) history At
  7. NWA International Tag Team Title history At
  8. NWA United States Heavyweight Title (Chicago) history At
  9. NWA United States Heavyweight Title (Hawaii version) history At
  10. Lawler, McMahon, Road Warriors among PWHF Class of 2011 . Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (2010-11-26). Retrieved on 2010-11-28.
  11. NWA Missouri Heavyweight Title history At
  12. WCW Hall of Fame Inductees At
  13. WWA World Heavyweight Title (Indianapolis) history At
  14. WWA World Tag Team Title (Indiana) history At
  15. WWA World Heavyweight Title (Los Angeles) history At
  16. World Heavyweight Title (Georgia) history At
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