Known as "The All-American Boy" of professional wrestling, Bob Backlund was born on August 14, 1950 in Princeton,Minnesota. He employed a strong amateur background and scientific style to become a world champion. After wrestling atNorth Dakota State University and winning the Division II National Championship in 1971, Backlund began his professional career in Verne Gagne's AWA during 1974. Trained by Eddie Sharkey, Backlund earned the distinction as being one of the great mat technicians of his time. He earned championship gold when he teamed with Jerry Brisco by winning the NWA Georgia Tag Team Championship in 1975 and later teamed with Steve Kiern to capture the NWA Florida Tag-Team Championship.
During an era when wrestlers with unusual size and strength possessed world championships and dominated the industry,Backlund, wrestling at a robust 240 pounds, was considered an undersized heavyweight. He used great in-ring psychology and a fast-paced repertoire on his way to victory against larger adversaries. Bob earned one of his first championships by winning the NWA Missouri Title in April 1976. One of his more significant victories occurred on February 20, 1978 at Madison SquareGarden when he shocked the wrestling world by defeating "Superstar" Billy Graham for the WWWF title.
Backlund suffered a stunning defeat at the hands of Antonio Inoki and dropped the WWWF belt in Japan on November 30, 1979. Despite this loss, the WWWF did not recognize Inoki's reign and the title was vacated but was brought back to Backlundon December 6, 1979. After his program with Inoki, Bob captured WWWF Tag-Team gold with Pedro Morales in August 1980 but was forced to forfeit the title as he was already the singles champion at that time.
Backlund defeated "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Adrian Adonis, "Killer" Khan and many others during his championship reign. However, in the newly formed WWF, Backlund suffered defeat at the hands of The Iron Sheik on December 26, 1983 in New York City. During this match, manager Arnold Skaaland conceded the verdict by throwing in the towel after the Iron Sheik applied the "Camel Clutch".
Backlund became the WWF titlist again on November 23, 1994. In a memorable moment, Bob defeated Bret Hart with the "Cross-face Chicken-wing" hold in a match with a theme similar to the Iron Sheik's championship win nearly ten years earlier. Helen Hart, Bret's mother, was saddened by Bret's suffering from Backlund's excruciating hold and threw in the towel to save her son. During this time, Bob portrayed an erratically disturbed heel who wanted to be called "Mr. Backlund". Backlunddropped the title in a record six seconds to Diesel (Kevin Nash) on November 26, 1994.
A man of many talents, Backlund tried his hand in politics and considered himself a U. S. Presidential candidate in the 1996 race. Bob later managed talent in the WWF alongside former rival The Iron Sheik and they guided The Sultan to many victories. Clearly, Backlund has proven time and time again that he is a valuable asset to the professional wrestling industry and he shows no signs of slowing down.
In 2007, at 57 years of age, Backlund appeared at TNA in a managerial role and even wrestled several matches. Bob also participated in WWE Monday Night Raw's 15th Anniversary Special in December 2007 in the Anniversary Battle Royal.
Today, Bob spends time enjoying his home in Connecticut with his wife and daughter. The PWHF is proud to induct "The All-American Boy" of wrestling into its 2008 Modern Era Category and Class of 2008.Â
- Andrew Malnoske