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.
I liked the match, but it bothered me that the crowd was so quiet for most of it. It might take some time, but if they can re-educate the fans on submission wrestling and psychology, then matches like that one can become more the norm.