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Blackjack Mulligan

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Blackjack Mulligan
Mulligan, circa 1979
Birth nameRobert Deroy Windham
Born(1942-11-25)November 25, 1942
Sweetwater, Texas, U.S.
DiedApril 7, 2016(2016-04-07) (aged 73)
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Alma materTexas Western College
Spouse(s)Julia Windham[1]
Children3, including Barry Windham and Kendall Windham
FamilyMike Rotunda (son-in-law)
Bo Dallas (grandson)
Bray Wyatt (grandson)
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s)Big Bob Windham
Big Machine
Blackjack Mulligan
The Texan
Billed height6 ft 9 in (206 cm)[2]
Billed weight300 lb (136 kg)[2]
Billed fromEagle Pass, Texas, U.S. El Paso, Texas U.S. (1982)
Trained byVerne Gagne
RetiredMay 23, 1993
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Marine Corps

Robert Deroy Windham (November 25, 1942 – April 7, 2016), better known by his ring name Blackjack Mulligan, was an American professional wrestler and American football player. He was the father of wrestlers Barry and Kendall Windham, father-in-law of Mike Rotunda, and the maternal grandfather of Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt.

American football career


As a young man, Windham played football at Texas Western College, now known as the University of Texas at El Paso. Windham served a tour of duty in the United States Marine Corps, serving in Guam.[3] He then went on to play for the New York Jets during the 1966 pre-season and received tryouts with the New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos.

Professional wrestling career


After football, at the urging of Wahoo McDaniel, Windham trained with Joe Blanchard in Corpus Christi, Texas and later with Verne Gagne and became a professional wrestler in the American Wrestling Association. Billed as being 6 foot 9 inches and over 300 pounds, Windham was a raw-boned cowboy in the vein of Bobby Duncum or Stan Hansen.

In November and December 1970, Windham (as "Bob Windham") wrestled in Japan for the International Wrestling Enterprise promotion as part of its Big Winter Series. Teaming with Larry Hennig, he defeated Great Kusatsu and Thunder Sugiyama in a two-out-of-three falls match to win the IWA World Tag Team Championship. Kusatsu and Sugiyama regained the titles from them several weeks later.[4]

In 1971, Mulligan joined the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) where he was transformed into "Blackjack Mulligan". Mulligan donned black trunks, black hat, a black fingerless glove, moustache and used the iron claw submission hold.

When he arrived in the WWWF, he was managed by The Grand Wizard. Early stills of the two actually identify him as "Big Bob Windham". Mulligan went on to great success in the Northeast and was an early challenger to newly crowned champion Pedro Morales. His push was interrupted when he was slashed in the thigh by a fan at the Boston Garden and required hundreds of stitches to close the wound. The culprit was actually captured by Gorilla Monsoon, who threw him at the ringside police – who promptly let him go because they thought "it was part of the show".

Before he left to recover from his wound, Mulligan participated in a Madison Square Garden match against Bruno Sammartino, who was making his first appearance at the arena since the end of his nearly eight-year championship reign. Mulligan attacked Sammartino before the bell. Sammartino quickly recovered, slammed Mulligan twice and pinned him in 64 seconds. In wrestling terms, everybody "got over" – the building was sold out to the delight of promoter Vincent J. McMahon, Sammartino made a strong return to New York and Mulligan, who was in no condition to work an actual match, received a large pay-off to aid his recovery.

Once he healed, Mulligan returned to the Midwest and tagged with Blackjack Lanza to form the Blackjacks. Although Mulligan was the much bigger star, the duo went on to capture numerous tag team championships in various NWA affiliated promotions as well as the WWWF World Tag Team Championship in August 1975.

Mulligan (left) blooded during a match against Baron von Raschke (right), circa 1978.

Blackjack returned to singles wrestling in the Jim Crockett Promotions where he would go on to hold the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship and the Mid-Atlantic's version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Ric Flair.

Mulligan often battled André the Giant, feuding in many different regions in the early 1980s. When they brought their feud to the WWF (formerly the WWWF) in 1982, Windham was noted as saying Andre had no limit to his strength. Mulligan then wrestled in Florida. He often teamed with West Texas stars Dusty Rhodes, Dick Murdoch, and his son Barry Windham. Mulligan returned to the WWF as a full-time performer in 1984, hosting an interview segment titled Blackjack's Barbecue on WWF All-Star Wrestling, the counterpart to Roddy Piper's Piper's Pit.

In 1986, Mulligan wrestled under a mask as "Big Machine", part of a team with "The Giant Machine" (André the Giant) and "Super Machine" (Bill Eadie) collectively known as The Machines. They won several high-profile matches against the Heenan family, later recruiting members such as 'Hulk Machine' and 'Piper Machine'. After that angle ended, Mulligan wrestled for the WWF as himself, until he finally left in 1987. Later on, Jack traveled to Dallas and competed in World Class Championship Wrestling, wrestling against Bruiser Brody, Chris Adams and Kevin and Lance Von Erich. Mulligan also returned to Florida in 1987 to fight against the Funk brothers, teaming with Kevin Sullivan.

Mulligan returned for his last match on May 23, 1993, at WCW's Slamboree '93: A Legends' Reunion in a six-man tag teaming with Wahoo McDaniel and Jim Brunzell against Don Muraco, Dick Murdoch and Jimmy Snuka in a no contest.

Mulligan worked as a match booker and promoter all around the South, eventually co-owning the Amarillo, Texas-based Western States Sports promotion with Dick Murdoch after purchasing it from Dory and Terry Funk. Mulligan and his Blackjacks partner, Jack Lanza were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame[5] on April 1, 2006, by their manager, Bobby Heenan.

Personal life

Blackjack Mulligan (left) and his son, Barry Windham, c. 1988

In 1990, Blackjack Mulligan and his son Kendall Windham were arrested by the US Secret Service in a joint investigation with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for counterfeiting. The authorities found close to $500,000 in phony $20 bills. As a result of a plea agreement, both father and son spent 24 months in a federal prison and were released in 1992.[6]

In 2007, Windham published his book titled True Lies and Alibis, which tells about his personal life and his professional wrestling career.

In 2012, Windham, a born again Christian, was ordained a minister by Divine Hearts Ministry located in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri. He was very devoted to spending the time he had remaining to spreading the word of God. He felt his ordination could help him in this endeavor.

In July 2015, Windham was named as a defendant in a 2015 lawsuit filed by WWE after they received a letter from him indicating that he intended to sue them for concussion-based injuries sustained during his tenure with them. He was represented by attorney Konstantine Kyros, who is involved in several other lawsuits involving former WWE wrestlers.[7] Over two years after his death, US District Judge Vanessa Lynne Bryant dismissed the lawsuit in September 2018.[8]



After dealing with health problems in recent years and being hospitalized with a heart attack several months earlier, Windham was hospitalized in Florida in October 2015. He died on April 7, 2016. He was buried at the Florida National Cemetery.[9]



Mulligan's son Barry Windham wrestled as Blackjack Mulligan Jr early in his career.[10][11] Upon turning heel and joining the 4 Horsemen, Barry adopted the signature black glove. Decades later, upon joining The Miz as his henchman, Mulligan's grandson, Bo Dallas, also incorporated the black glove into his look.[citation needed]

Mulligan used the "hulk up" style comeback long before Hulk Hogan emerged in the business.[citation needed]

His grandson Windham Rotunda was signed to WWE until his death in 2023, performing under the name Bray Wyatt.

British wrestler Laurence (Laurie) Coulson (Coulton) was billed as "Black Jack Mulligan" (and related variants) while wrestling for Joint Promotions in the 1970s and 1980s.[12]

Championships and accomplishments

  1. ^ WWE does not recognize his 2nd reign.


  1. ^ "Robert Deroy "Black Jack Mulligan" WINDHAM's Obituary on Tampa Bay Times". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Shields, Brian; Sullivan, Kevin (2009). WWE Encyclopedia. DK. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7566-4190-0.
  3. ^ Oliver, Greg (June 20, 2000). "Blackjack Mulligan takes a dive". SlamWrestling.net. Retrieved November 4, 2022.
  4. ^ Kreikenbohm, Philip. "Blackjack Mulligan - matches - International Wrestling Enterprise". Cagematch.net. Retrieved July 25, 2023.
  5. ^ "Robert 'Blackjack Mulligan' Windham, WWE Hall of Famer, Dies at Age 73". Bleacher Report.
  6. ^ Mooneyham, Mike (March 23, 2008). "Blackjack, The Nature Boy, and More Memories". The Post and Courier. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  7. ^ "WWE seeking to block concussion-related lawsuits". FoxSports.com. Fox Entertainment Group (21st Century Fox). July 1, 2015. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
  8. ^ Gorman, Jeff D. (September 18, 2018). "WWE Knocks Out Consolidated Concussion Case". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved September 2, 2019.
  9. ^ "Blackjack Mulligan passes away". WWE.com. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  10. ^ "Barry Windham Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  11. ^ "Barry Windham Bio". Accelerator's Wrestling Rollercoaster. Archived from the original on May 15, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2008.
  12. ^ "Wrestling Heritage". August 5, 2023.
  13. ^ "WWE United States Championship". Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  14. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2000). "Texas: NWA / World Class American Heavyweight Title [Von Eric]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. pp. 265–266. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  15. ^ "NWA United States Heavyweight Title (1967-1968/05) - American Heavyweight Title (1968/05-1986/02)". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  16. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Dallas) Texas: NWA American Tag Team Title [Fritz Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 978-0-9698161-5-7.
  17. ^ "N.W.A. American Tag Team Title". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  18. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Heavyweight Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 268–269. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  19. ^ "NWA Texas Heavyweight Title". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved March 30, 2017.
  20. ^ Will, Gary; Duncan, Royal (2000). "Texas: NWA Texas Tag Team Title [Von Erich]". Wrestling Title Histories: professional wrestling champions around the world from the 19th century to the present. Pennsylvania: Archeus Communications. pp. 275–276. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  21. ^ "NWA Texas Tag Team Title [E. Texas]". wrestling-titles.com. Retrieved December 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Texas) Dallas: NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. p. 271. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4.
  23. ^ "Texas Brass Knucks Title [East Texas]". Wrestling-Titles. Retrieved December 22, 2019.
  24. ^ F4W Staff (May 7, 2015). "On this day in pro wrestling history (May 7): Jeff Jarrett ends David Arquette's WCW title reign, Nick Bockwinkel Vs. Ray Stevens". Wrestling Observer Figure Four Online. Retrieved February 10, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ "PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING HALL OF FAME MOVING FROM UPSTATE NEW YORK TO TEXAS". PWInsider. November 20, 2015. Retrieved November 20, 2015.
  26. ^ "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Award Winners Inspirational Wrestler of the Year". Wrestling Information Archive. Archived from the original on June 16, 2008. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  27. ^ "W.W.A. World Tag Team Title (Indianapolis)". Puroresu Dojo. 2003.