(June 27, 1929-­Nov. 10, 1991). Born in Lafayette, Indiana, Richard Afflis was raised in Delphi before moving with his family to Indianapolis during World War II. He attended Shortridge High School for two years before moving back to Lafayette, where he graduated from Lafayette Jefferson High School. He attended and played football at Purdue University for three years. After dropping out of Purdue, Afflis moved to Nevada and eventually enrolled at the University of Nevada­, Reno, where he continued to play football. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in engineering.

Dick The Bruiser promotional photo, ca. 1960s
© Indianapolis Star

Afflis was drafted by the Green Bay Packers professional football team as an offensive lineman in 1951. While with the Packers, he received his nickname, “Dick the Bruiser,” for his physical style of play. His time in Green Bay also saw him take a hit to the throat that injured his larynx, giving him his distinctive raspy voice.

After four seasons with the Packers, he quit in 1955 and became a full-­time professional wrestler, going on to earn the distinction of being the “The World’s Most Dangerous Wrestler.” Afflis generated fame and notoriety across cities like Chicago, Detroit, and New York City before returning to Indianapolis in 1964 to take the reins of the World Wrestling Association (WWA). Running the operation while characterizing himself as the organization’s consummate champion, the WWA often collaborated with the American Wrestling Association (AWA) as well.

During his long wrestling career, Dick the Bruiser won numerous titles through these organizations and others. He was 13-time WWA world heavyweight champion, a 15-time WWA world tag team champion (six of which came with his wrestling “cousin” known as “The Crusher”), and a 5-time AWA world tag team champion (all with “The Crusher”).

He became well-known throughout Indiana and the Midwest from his numerous appearances on Indianapolis-­produced television programs like “Big Time Wrestling,” “Championship Wrestling,” and ”All­-Star Championship Wrestling.” Bruiser, who lived most of his adult life in Indianapolis, was also known for his work on behalf of numerous charitable organizations, especially the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Dick the Bruiser Interview from television special "Once A Star," 1985
© mediaburn.org

Afflis retired from the WWA in 1989, due in part to the rise in prominence of the World Wrestling Federation. He died in 1991 from a weight-lifting incident that caused internal bleeding and is buried in Indianapolis at the Washington Park North Cemetery. Afflis was inducted into the Professional Wrestlers Hall of Fame in 2005.

Revised July 2021
 

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