|Birth name||George Burrell Woodin|
July 28, 1934|
Utica, New York
|Died||November 30, 2002
Charlotte, North Carolina
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Mr. Wrestling
|Billed height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Billed weight||230 lb (100 kg)|
|Retired||September 17, 1983 (final match)|
Before becoming a professional wrestler, Woodin was a successful amateur wrestler. While wrestling for the Michigan State Spartans, Woodin won two Big Ten titles in 1958 and 1959. He also finished second in the NCAA tournament in 1958 and 1959 as well.
As a junior at Michigan State, Woodin won the 1958 Big Ten 177-pound title by pinning Gary Kurdelmeier of the University of Iowa at 8:21. A couple weeks later, the two met again in the 177-pound finals of the 1958 NCAAs at the University of Wyoming, where Woodin lost to Kurdelmeier, 6-2.
As a senior, Woodin defeated Iowa's Gordon Trapp, 6-4, in the heavyweight finals to win his second Big Ten title. At the 1959 NCAAs, the Michigan State Spartan competed in the 191-pound class, making it to the finals for the second year in a row... but lost 9-5 to Syracuse's Art Baker. With his two runner-up finishes at the national championships, Woodin was a two-time NCAA All-American.
Professional wrestling career
Woodin began his wrestling career at the age of 29 using the name "Tim Woods". He was then given the name "Mr. Wrestling" by Nebraska promotor Joe Dusek, and subsequently adopted both a white wrestling mask and white singlet to complete the character. Mr. Wrestling became a major superstar in the Georgia, Florida, Texas and Mid-Atlantic territories. He wrestled in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in the northeast, at the upper end of the preliminary wrestlers. Starting in the Seventies, he would alternate between his masked persona as Mr. Wrestling and wrestling unmasked as Tim Woods, depending on the territory.
In 1975, Woodin was injured in a plane crash. He eventually returned to wrestling.
Woodin was involved in the same 1975 plane crash that involved pilot Joseph Michael Farkas (he ended up in a coma and died the next year), wrestling legend Johnny Valentine (broke his back and bone fragments impacted into his spinal cord, which ended his career), wrestler Bob Bruggers (broke his back and had a steel rod put in; Bruggers could have made a comeback, but he decided to retire), future legend Ric Flair (broke his back, but recovered and returned to wrestling), and Jim Crockett Promotions' announcer David Crockett. At the hospital, Woodin gave them his real name (George Burrell Woodin), and told them that he was a promoter. Since Woodin wrestled under the name Tim Woods, a newspaper article in the Charlotte Observer listed his name as his real name, George Burrell Woodin, and mentioned that he was a promoter. Woodin was the only fan favorite wrestler on the plane, while the rest wrestled as villains, and this was back in the days when kayfabe was not broken (at the time, Woods was feuding with Flair and Valentine) and heroes and villains were not known to travel together. Eventually, rumors began circulating that Woods was in fact on the plane. Unwilling to risk the exposure of professional wrestling, he got back in the ring two weeks after the crash and was obviously in extreme pain. Flair later said in his book To Be the Man, that he was "more than just Mr. Wrestling that day, but was the man who saved wrestling."
On November 30, 2002, Woodin died from a heart attack at his home in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 68. Before his death, he was scheduled to be interviewed for a WWE Confidential piece on the October 1975 plane crash.
Woodin earned an Agricultural Engineering degree at Cornell University and a Mechanical Engineering degree at Michigan State University. He was an avid collector of motorcycles as well as an accomplished photographer and saxophone player. Woods also ran a heating and air conditioning business after retiring from the ring.
Championships and accomplishments
- Amateur Athletic Union
- AAU National Championship (1955, 1957)
- Other honoree (2002)
- PWI ranked him #394 of the top 500 singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003