Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Funk's unforgettable fete

Three from Amarillo traveled over the weekend to Houston for Terry and Dory Funk, Jr.’s induction into the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Hall of Honor at the Toyota Center.

“This wasn’t on my bucket list,” said Bill Bandy, “but I might just add it now and check it off.”

Bandy, Kids Inc. executive director Jimmy Lackey and insurance agent Ronnie Mankin — all friends of the Funks — were at the induction ceremony on Friday and then went to a private party honoring the wrestlers at a hotel afterward. Bandy estimated the 20,000-seat Toyota Center was 75 percent full.

“It was an interesting collection of fans who attended the event,” Bandy said. “I was shocked. We came dressed to go to a party afterward. We had jackets on and the others had on T-shirts and spiked hair. It was the strangest collection of people. Somebody said the only thing they could compare it to was NASCAR. You had every different kind of influence in society.”

The highlight for the group was the gathering afterward at a Marriott. Most of the famous wrestlers over the last 20 years were there to mingle and reminisce.

“There are two Terry Funks,” Bandy said. “There’s the Terry Funk on stage that wrestling fans know, and there’s the one you see with his wife and daughters. It was like a family reunion and Terry reminded me of an uncle just sitting there and talking and telling family stories.”

Ric Flair, Harley Race, Rowdy Roddy Piper, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and Hawcksaw Jim Duggan were among those who held court, posed for pictures, and ate and drank. Actor Mickey Rourke, nominated for an Oscar this year for Best Actor for his role in “The Wrestler” was also there.

“It was so neat to watch these guys and the respect they had for each other,” said Bandy, whose group did not leave until 2:20 a.m.

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