The day is October 22nd, but the year is 1942. It’s the day Pedro Antonio Morales was born. While impossible to know then, it means wrestling great Pedro Morales came into the world. A man that left an indelible mark in professional wrestling and became a symbol of pride in his native Puerto Rico.
Born and raised in Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, Morales remained there until reaching his adolescence, when his mother sent him to live with an aunt in Brooklyn, New York, to finish high school. It was there that one of his sister’s friends introduced him to the members of a wrestling club. After practicing in his school and at a local YMCA, Morales debuted as an amateur wrestler at the mere age of 13. The wrestling bug had bit.
It didn’t take long for Morales to reach the pro ranks. In 1959 at just 17 years old, Morales made his pro wrestling debut on a card in New York City, earning a victory over Howard LaVine, who performed under the pseudonym Buddy Gilbert. What would follow would be a decade’s worth education in quite literally the school of hard knocks. Morales traversed North America fighting on lower circuit semi=pro wrestling associations and cards, amassing victories, defeats, colleagues, experience and above all else a loyal following!
On November 21, 1970 Morales made his debut in the WWF, now better known as modern day WWE. He teamed with Chief Jay Strongbow in a draw against The Mongols, Newton Tattrie and Josip Peruzovic, as part of a one-night appearance. Morales quickly joined the WWF roster and became its champion in 1971, many matches would follow before departing for other organizations like the NWA and AWA, but in 1980 he would return to the WWF and have some of his most memorable bouts, winning the Tag Team Title with then champ Bob Backlund in what simply became known as “The Showdown at Shea”, he would also win Intercontinental Championship making Pedro Morales the WWF’s first triple crown winner.
The WWF years would result in many memorable battles against the likes of foes such as Sgt. Slaughter, Don “Magnifent” Muraco, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Killer Kahn. Often employing his signature move the “Boston Crab” to defeat them. He, eventually left the WWF to work the pro circuit for companies in his native Puerto Rico, ultimately retiring in 1987. Yet, in retirement Morales would also make history. Returning returned to provide television commentary for WWF’s Spanish language affiliate – a first in company’s history.
Morales was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1995. Professional wrestling critics and purists have discussed his contributions to the discipline. Many consider Morales the best Puerto Rican wrestler in history. His run as the first Latin American Intercontinental Champions is universally lauded. WWE itself ranks Morales in the ninth spot in the “Intercontinental Champions” entry of their Top 25 series. WWE also included him in a compendium titled “Top 50 Good Guys in Wrestling History”.
Upon his WWE Hall of Fame induction, the commentator said, “if there was one word that would sum up Pedro Morales, it would be “respected”. As a wrestler and as a man he earned it.”
Should this really be a surprise? Its why Pedro Morale was a true Don.