Dick “Destroyer” Beyer
Professional Wrestler and Coach
While many members of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame achieved fame on a national level, few have attained the level of popularity as a pop culture icon as that enjoyed by Dick “The Destroyer” Beyer. During a long career as a professional wrestler, Dick made waves not only in the US, but also – for a time – created quite a splash on the islands of Japan.
A four sport star at Seneca Vocational High School, Beyer was All-High in football and earned a full scholarship to Syracuse University. Dick played varsity football there from 1950-52, and co-captained the Syracuse’s first Orange Bowl squad in 1952. After graduation, Dick remained at SU as an assistant football coach on the staff of legendary Ben Schwartzwalder, who led the Orangemen to four bowl games and a National Championship fueled by the running of full-back Jim Brown in 1959.
Syracuse also gave Beyer his start in wrestling, and he excelled almost at once. He was Eastern Regional Second Team in 1952-53, and made National AAU Second Team in 1954. Beyer’s exploits on the mat, and on the gridiron, landed him honors as the 1953 Syracuse University Athlete of the Year.
Beyer began an extrordinary 7,500-match career as a pro wrestler in 1954 and again was an instant hit. He was Wrestling Life magazine’s Rookie of the Year in 1955, and brought a unique style and flair to the ring. In 1962, “The Destroyer” was born, and “terrorized” opponents for over 20 years, winning three World Wide Alliance heavyweight titles, a WWA tag team championship, and induction into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. While the persona was hugely popular in the States, it achieved near-cult status in Japan from 1973-79. Dick was the first foreigner to join a Japanese wrestling company, appearing in well over 200 matches all over Japan. He parlayed ring exploits into mass media stardom, and was featured in a hit Japanese TV show and on the cover of TV Guide and Sports Illustrated in that country.
Retirement from the ring has not slowed Beyer’s pace. He continues as a varsity swim coach at Akron High; his team holds a league record with 45 consecutive meet victories. Stints as Seneca Vocational football and basketball coach have also occupied his golden years. Beyer has also served the youth of this area with an extensive dedication to fundraising and charitable activities, and has been recognized with a multitude of awards. It is that heart of gold, as much as wrestling greatness, that has thrown “The Destroyer” into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.