Ric Drasin | Wrestling’s Renaissance Man

2020 remains a devastating year, losing so many wrestling brothers and sisters. We lost Ric Drasin on Sunday, August 30th (far too young like Bob Armstrong), who was still a feisty 76. Like Chadwick Boseman, none of us had any idea he was ill. For weeks, he quietly but valiantly fought kidney failure in a Southern California hospital(his kids by his side), which eventually took him.

Richard Alan Drasin was a bodybuilder, weightlifter, stuntman/actor, wrestling school instructor/AWF show promoter, and had a wresting gear line to rival those of Adrian Street’s and Bill Ash. His first film role was in “Ben” in 1972 (with Michael Jackson singing the title song, which won Best Oscar song the following year) as the gym manager attacked by rats. Later he played “demi-Hulk” in Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno‘s Incredible Hulk tv show.

Along with Billy Graham, Ric trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger and, as a graphic artist, designed the world-famous Gold’s Gym and World Gym Logos. He is still the only recipient of the Joe Gold Lifetime Bodybuilding Achievement Award he was given in 2012. When Bruno came in for us in his “off-Vince Sr” period between titles in Jan and March of 1972, Ric drove him to his gym to work out with him. That’s usually what Bruno wanted to do at that time, the minute he hit a new destination town he was wrestling in that wasn’t located in the NorthEast.

Ric Drasin

Mae Young trained him over the course of six months in 1965 at of all places, The Olympic Auditorium! He debuted against “Killer” Buddy Austin, our in-house WWA World Champion, back when the then formidable WWA encompassed the West Coast, Hawaii, and Japan with perhaps its most beloved world champion, Rikidozan. Ric also worked for San Francisco’s Roy Shire, Ed Francis, and Lord Blears Hawaii territory and all over the Pacific Northwest. Today’s fans can thank him for helping train AEW’s Jungle Boy and tag partner Luchasaurus.

Ric Drasin
Photo / JBH News

Ric’s debuted his 2004 So You Want To Be A Wrestling Promoter book right in our vendor booth area along with his follow-up The Time Of My Life autobiography are the best places to learn about him. Those of us in the Los Angeles Mike Lebell territory (I started as one of our ringside program photographers) remember his colorful years of work at all of our house show venues beyond the Olympic Auditorium’s crown jewel. Ric wrestled several times for the Beat The Champ tv title. For America’s Tag straps often partnered with names like Jose Lothario’s younger brother Sal, La Pantera Negra, Mando Lopez, Billy Rogers, and John Burch (Gene Lebell gave the latter his work name).

He worked out with CAC honorees Mil Mascaras and Earl Maynard plus Dory Dixon in a 70’s photo essay series we shot for the newsstand magazines. On L.A. tv, he worked with everyone from John Tolos, Fred Blassie, Don “Arson” Carson, Ernie Ladd, Billy Graham, Gordman and Goliath, Shibuya, and Saito, Gordon Nelson, Ripper Collins, Destroyer Dick Beyer, Kim Duc, Pak Song, and countless others. After leaving Lebell, he briefly went “AWOL” with his own West Coast Wrestling promotion in 1975, which didn’t last long.

Wrestling’s Renaissance Man

Later he said he would’ve joined Billy Graham and Ivan Koloff’s planned outlaw group that never really got going. Sure, he mostly jobbed for Lebell and Shire and would’ve been perhaps a lead worker in a smaller territory like Phoenix, Arizona. However, Ric was unique for a super-muscular guy, flying around the ring and delivering multiple-series-dropkicks. One that Jim Brunzell would be proud of. His mat and chain skills were solid enough to get him one 70’s Japan wrestling tour.

His kids Sami, Adam, and Shane, announced on Facebook:

“He was everything to us. A father, role model, and friend. Not only was he an inspiration for countless people, but he truly cared for those around him. His life was steered by the desire to uplight and share his positivity. Ric’s immeasurable presence will be with us all forever.”

For any of us lucky enough to have been in his presence from the early ’70s on. He was fun-loving and a gentle rib-artist along the lines of double CAC-honoree Vic Christie lines. Christie’s wrestling nephews via their dad Ted, the Peace Brothers Jerome and Joseph (who doubled as The Masked Vigilante jobbers) Ric Drasin also helped break-in. What a life he crammed into those years!

Rest In Power Ric. We’ll never forgive you for shaving your head out of the blue, without doing it in a stips match.

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