Dick Beyer, a Syracuse University football player and coach in the 1950s who went on to international fame under a mask as legendary professional wrestler “The Destroyer,” died Thursday at the age of 88.
Beyer died at his home in Akron, outside of Buffalo. Beyer’s death was announced by his son, Kurt, on Facebook.
Beyer — born July 11, 1930, in Buffalo — was an offensive lineman for the Orange from the 1951 to 1953 seasons, and served as co-captain of the 1952 team that earned Syracuse’s first bowl bid, a trip to the Orange Bowl where SU lost to Alabama.
“I scored a touchdown against Michigan State (in 1952),” Beyer told Post-Standard columnist Bud Poliquin in 2002. "You're asking, ‘How does an offensive guard do that?’ It was a rollout pass. I pulled out and they threw a down-and-out to our fullback, Mark Hoffman. But the ball popped into the air and I grabbed it and took off for the end zone.
"Well, the next day I read in the newspaper ‘… and Beyer lumbered 35 yards for the score.’ I saw that and said, ‘What's with that lumbering garbage?’ Let me tell you, I streaked down that sideline."
After graduation, Beyer served as an assistant coach at SU for several years under Ben Schwartzwalder.
Beyer was also on the wrestling team at Syracuse, and it was as a pro wrestler that Beyer gained worldwide fame. He wrestled under his own name for a while, but his career took off when a California promoter made him a bad guy, called him “The Destroyer,” and had him wear a mask that was fashioned out of a woman’s girdle. Beyer initially balked at wearing a mask, but the gimmick was a success.
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