Name: Gorilla Monsoon
Year Inducted: 2010

Gorilla Monsoon

For someone so well known as a wrestling play-by-play announcer, younger fans might be surprised to know that Gorilla Monsoon's early verbal output consisted of little more than grunts and groans. When he debuted in the World Wide Wrestling Federation in 1963, with managers Bobby Davis and "Wild" Red Berry, he was touted as an uncivilized 350-pound beast who pushed around ice in frozen rivers in Manchuria. So it was quite a shock for fans when Monsoon began to speak, and, egad, even proudly displayed his home and family in a magazine pictorial in 1967. (One highlight: in wooing wife Maureen, "he was quite eloquent, murmuring endearments in French and Italian.") Bob "Gino" Marella was more than a fighter and a lover, though. He was a part-owner of the federation, a booker, a road agent, and a WWF president. The "Gorilla position," the traffic management area just behind the entrance curtains, is named for him. Throw in his outstanding amateur wrestling career and his role in the chorus in the Ithaca College production of South Pacific, and it is clear Monsoon, who died in 1999 at 62, contributed to his sport and his community in a variety of ways. A star high school athlete in Rochester, N.Y., Marella majored in education at Ithaca, but with his size, the pro mat wars naturally beckoned. "I remember wrestling guys in the amateurs that seemed to have an unnatural gift," wrestler Dick Steinborn reflected. "They were born to wrestle. Monsoon had that gift." He gave up his evil ways in 1969 and became a fan favorite, and his popularity increased when he teamed with Bobby Heenan as the best known announcing duo in the annals of the sport. Their unscripted banter often was more entertaining than the matches they called. As Heenan wrote in his autobiography: "Working with Gorilla Monsoon was a joy - the highlight of my career, He was the most honest, gentle, intelligent man I ever met."

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