I want to say that I remembered him being based more in Kansas City, but he popped up in Chicago from time to time (his Wiki history seems to suggest he may have been more of a traveling 'special attraction', like Andre). When I saw the news, first thing I thought of - originator of the 'Samoan Spike' (obviously not called as such).
Big Cat would bring the thumb up from below, when he had his opponent in a headlock, and out of the referee's sight. Invariably the wrestlers sold it like Steamboat did Savage's ringbell shot. The announcers called it heinous, and a borderline felony. Also Ernie retained a great build back in the days when a Trevor Murdock-type was the norm, rather than the exception. Around this region, the black wrestler of record was 'Sailor' Art Thomas, and he was more of an Ernie Banks-esque smiling, happy-go-lucky face. Ladd was booked as a heel, and a rather intelligent one. Not to mention they managed to do it without using a race-baiting angle.
Sorry I don't have any feud/angle memories to share..
He was one of the AFL all-stars in New Orleans refused entry into a local bar. Earl Faison was in the group. The black players staged a protest because of that treatment (joined by many of their white teammates) and that became quite a watershed event for black athletes' treatment in the south.
As of 2/28/05: 101 pounds since December 7, 2004 OFFICIAL THREE-MONTH COUNT: 112 pounds on March 9, 2005 OFFICIAL SIX-MONTH COUNT: 142 pounds on June 8, 2005 OFFICIAL ONE YEAR COUNT: 187 pounds on December 7, 2005 As of 2/27/06: 202 pounds "I've lost a heavyweight" As of 7/31/06: 224 pounds
I saw Ernie Ladd wrestle either Buzz Sawyer or Tricky Nick Bockwinckle at the Ampitheater in Chicago when I was 10 or 12. I can't for the life of me remember which one, but I remember Ernie Ladd cause of what my Grandfather thought of him. He was sure huge, at least in my mind, but I am pretty sure he lost - like most imports did, by DQ.
Hey, it was like 40 years ago - give me a frickin' break.
When I think of tall footbal players - they may not be the tallest, but the Big Cat and Too Tall Jones are the only ones who come to mind.
When did being in the midcard of the biggest wrestling company in the world become a bad thing? Seriously. These guys are in front of screaming audiences night in, night out, they get paid well, they're on TV every week....