When the topic among wrestling historians shifts to greatest masked wrestlers of all time, the name "The Destroyer" is
guaranteed to be at the top of the list.
Dick Beyer, an amateur wrestling champion and Syracuse University football player from Buffalo, New York, became a pro wrestler
under his real name in 1954. But, it was a transformation to the masked Destroyer some eight years later that changed his life
and his career forever.
In 1962, while wrestling in Hawaii, Beyer crossed paths with the legendary Freddie Blassie. Blassie arranged for Beyer to wrestle
on the Southern California circuit, but it was promoter Jules Strongbow who decided that Dick would wear a mask under the ring
name "The Destroyer".
Thousands of wrestlers through the years have been "put under a mask" by promoters, but only a handful embrace it to the point
of making it their identity. Dick Beyer became "The Destroyer."
A rivalry with Blassie, in which the Destroyer became WWA World Champion, drew sellout crowds in Los Angeles and gained the masked
man national and international notoriety. His in-ring career skyrocketed.
In 1963, "The Destroyer" toured Japan for the first time. The trip to the Orient and his matches with Rikidozan, the father of
Japanese pro wrestling, made him a household name in that country. A bout between the two was responsible for one of the biggest
ratings in the history of Japanese television when 70 million people tuned in to watch.
After headlining for several years in Los Angeles, Japan, the Pacific Northwest and Texas, Beyer agreed to move his home base
to the Midwest. At the insistence of promoter Verne Gagne, Beyer was billed as the masked Doctor X. In 1968, Doctor X became
AWA World Champion.
Beyer's return to "The Destroyer" persona allowed him to capitalize on his international reputation as he began a world tour
in 1970, when he wrestled in Samoa, New Zealand, Japan, India and Europe.
In 1973, "The Destroyer" began a six-year association with Giant Baba's All Japan Pro Wrestling, which resulted in an exclusive
deal that forced him to move his family to Japan. His crossover celebrity status led to his hosting role on "Uwasa No Channel",
Japan's top-rated live TV musical and comedy series.
"The Destroyer" returned to the States in 1979, but continued his regular wrestling tours of Japan until 1993, when he teamed
with Baba and son Kurt Beyer in his retirement match.
Beyer, who earned a Masters degree in Education and was an assistant football coach at Syracuse in the 1950s, returned to an
Akron, New York classroom in 1984 as a physical education teacher and as a high school football, wrestling and swimming coach.
Beyer's devotion to his community continues to this day with endless hours committed to local charities, Syracuse University
related events, Toastmasters International and amateur wrestling.
In 2002 Beyer was inducted into the Hall Of Fame at the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. His induction into the
Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2005 in the TV-Era Division cements his reputation as a Hall Of Fame wrestler ...
and a Hall Of Fame human being.
- Mike Tenay