Irwin "Ernie" Roth (August 30, 1926 – October 12, 1983), known by the ring names The Grand Wizard of Wrestling and Abdullah Farouk, was an American professional wrestling manager. Not a wrestler himself due to his small stature, he was noted for his flamboyant outfit of sequined jackets, wraparound sunglasses, and a brightly colored turban decorated with jewels and feathers. He was inducted into the WWE's Hall of Fame class of 1995.
|Birth name||Irwin Roth|
|Born||August 30, 1926|
Canton, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||October 12, 1983 57) (aged|
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart Attack|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||The Grand Wizard of Wrestling|
The Grand Wizard
J. Wellington Radcliffe
|Billed height||5 ft 7 in (170 cm)|
|Billed weight||130 lb (59 kg)|
|Billed from||Fort Lauderdale, Florida|
Professional wrestling career
Ernie Roth got his start in the entertainment business as a disc jockey. He became involved in professional wrestling as a manager in the 1960s in Detroit-based territories. Roth first worked under the names "Mr. Clean" and "J. Wellington Radcliffe." He also portrayed "Abdullah Farouk", the heel (villainous) manager of The Sheik.
Sporting a turban, Farouk took great pains in trying to control his madman protégé. But he also carved a niche for himself as a deceitful, underhanded character who insulted US fans whenever he had a chance. Farouk was a pioneer of "manager interference", as he physically would attempt to alter a match's outcome in the Sheik's favor. This sort of interference was rare at the time.
The Grand Wizard
Roth began a stint with the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in the 1970s, where he became known as The Grand Wizard. Roth, who was Jewish, reportedly took the name "The Grand Wizard" as a snub to the white supremacy organization the Ku Klux Klan, whose leaders were called Grand Wizard.
Almost immediately after arrival in 1971, the Wizard managed Black Jack Mulligan and Beautiful Bobby. He later lead Mr Fuji and Prof. Toru Tanaka to two reigns with the WWWF World Tag Team Championship. A year later, the Wizard led Stan Stasiak to victory over Pedro Morales for the WWF Championship in Philadelphia on December 1, 1973. The Wizard guided a second protégé, Superstar Billy Graham, to the very same championship on April 30, 1977, when Graham overcame Sammartino in Baltimore. On February 20, 1978, Bob Backlund took on Superstar Billy Graham for the WWF Championship at Madison Square Garden and dethroned the champion. The Wizard made it his duty to gain revenge on Backlund, sending charges such as Don Muraco, Ken Patera and Greg Valentine after him.
The Wizard managed the first Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson, and later Patera (who defeated Patterson for the title in April 1980 after the Wizard and Patterson parted ways) and Muraco to the same championship. Other protégés of the Wizard included "Beautiful" Bobby Harmon, Killer Kowalski, "Crazy" Luke Graham, Sgt. Slaughter, "Big Cat" Ernie Ladd, Ox Baker, and Cowboy Bob Orton.
Roth on many occasions (when out of character and greasepaint mustache) co-hosted the syndicated Big Time Wrestling show with fellow announcer Bob Finnegan until 1969 when the hosting duties went to Lord Athol Layton.
Roth was revealed to be homosexual after his death, although some claim they were aware of his sexual orientation during his lifetime. He was the godfather of protégé Don Muraco's daughter. His parents were Evrum (Edward) Roth and Rizel (Rose) Stern.
According to former WWE referee & wrestler Dangerous Danny Davis autobiography, Roth was also in charge of helping get the ring to all shows. The position was eventually taken over by Davis himself after Roth's death.
Awards and accomplishments
- Slagle, Steve. "The Grand Wizard". Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Solomon, Brian (June 15, 2010). "WWE Legends". Simon and Schuster – via Google Books.
- "The Grand Wizard bio". WWE. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- "Famous People Who Dropped Dead". Dorrance Publishing – via Google Books.
- "Beautiful Bobby Harmon". Obsessed with Wrestling.com. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- Oliver, Greg (June 19, 2006). "Managers DVD frustrating but entertaining". Canoe.ca. Retrieved July 18, 2015.
- "Jon-Roth - User Trees - Genealogy.com". familytreemaker.genealogy.com.
- "PWI Awards". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Kappa Publishing Group. Retrieved June 8, 2017.