Name: Billy Darnell
Senator Hugh Farley Award 2007

Billy Darnell

Born in Camden, New Jersey on February 25, 1926, Billy was naturally athletic. He participated in wrestling and boxing at the local YMCA and also became proficient in gymnastics, rowing and swimming. While working as a lifeguard in Wildwood, New Jersey, Billy used to wrestle in the sand with the other lifeguards. He had his first match in 1942 as male wrestlers were in short supply due to World War II. The War was soon to affect Billy's life in other ways as he served in the Philippines in the Army Corp of Engineers. At the conclusion of WWII in 1945, Billy restarted his wrestling career.

During his career, Billy wrestled in the U. S., Canada, Mexico and even Cuba. He once held the Junior Heavyweight title while wrestling in California and he and Bill Melby were World Tag Team Champions during the mid-1950's. Interestingly, Amsterdam, N. Y. native Bob McCune replaced Billy's position when Billy left the Hawaiian promotion.

A discussion on wrestling with Billy reveals his profound affection for many of his fellow wrestlers of the era. He has many stories relating to the "ribs" played on, and by, him. Johnny Valentine and Joe Christy, in particular, are fondly recalled in that regard. Of course, one of his closest friends in the business was Buddy Rogers. Contrary to reports in the magazines of the 1950's, Billy and Buddy were not related. However, Texas promoter Morris Siegel did once advertise Darnell as Billy Rogers to make such an impression.

Billy's physique appears as if he did a tremendous amount of specific bodybuilding workouts. However, Darnell states that his physique was a result of genetics, gymnastics, chinning, swimming, rowing and wrestling. He states that he had difficulty finding nutritious meals while traveling as a wrestler. He said that while he was on the road he used to try to find Greek Social clubs because they offered nutritious fare.

Outside of the ring, Billy has done it all. His WWII service allowed him to use the GI Bill to attend aviation school. Billy is the person who took Walter Bookbinder, aka Ray "Thunder" Stern, up in his airplane and let Ray handle the controls for a short time. The next day, Ray signed up for flying lessons. Ray went on to own his own air transport company! Billy also excelled at scuba diving and even had a popular bar and restaurant after his wrestling days were finished. Billy credits professional wrestling for bringing him out of his natural shyness.

Billy knew that his wrestling career would not last forever and began preparing for his second profession by entering the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1957. He continued his mat activities in California but after two years, it was time to change territories. He transferred to the Lincoln College of Chiropractic in Indianapolis and graduated with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 1961. He wrestled for a short time afterwards but had his last match in 1961. As a chiropractor, Billy has treated patients for over forty-five years. He continues to treat loyal patients who refuse to let him fully retire. He is a past member of the American Chiropractic Association and the New Jersey Chiropractic Association. He uses modern and traditional methods including electrotherapy, Nimmo Receptor Tonus Technique, hypnosis and continually updates his knowledge of new techniques and incorporates them into his practice.

Through his good health habits, Billy is able to say that all of his joints are still his own. He states that he does not think life would not be worth living if he could not regularly pursue his love of ballroom dancing. Billy has one daughter and two grandchildren.

The PWHF salutes this man of many talents.

-Bob Bryla



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