Sunday, March 18, 2012

Chief Jay Strongbow

Joseph Luke Scarpa (born October 4, 1928) is a former professional wrestler who was best known by his ring name, Chief Jay Strongbow. Scarpa portrayed a Native American wrestler, who wore a traditional headdress to the ring and would "go on the warpath" when the fans started cheering him against an opponent. Strongbow's career started in 1947, using his given name Joe Scarpa. Scarpa was a standout in the Georgia and Florida territories of the National Wrestling Alliance throughout the 1950s and 1960s, winning several championships and becoming a fan favorite. By 1970, he was working for Vincent J. McMahon's World Wide Wrestling Federation and was now known as Chief Jay Strongbow. He feuded with the likes of "The Golden Greek" Spiros Arion, "Handsome" Jimmy Valiant, and "Superstar" Billy Graham nearly winning the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship. A memorable match against "Iron" Mike McCord featured Strongbow applying his sleeper hold. But Lou Albano, "Iron" Mike McCord's manager, interfered by smashing a cast on the Chief's forehead. It was alleged that Strongbow had previously jumped Albano in the locker room breaking his arm. McCord was disqualified, but Strongbow was cut wide open by Albano's blows. Strongbow settled the score in front of a sold out Madison Square Garden, beating Captain Lou Albano convincingly.

Strongbow picked up a win at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1970, shortly after he entered the WWWF, pinning top contender Crusher Verdue, who was managed by Lou Albano.

In 1975, he began feuding with Spiros Arion. Arion, a popular and seemingly unbeatable babyface returned to the WWWF after an absence, and teamed with Strongbow. Arion turned on Strongbow, destroying his headdress on Philadelphia TV after he had tied Strongbow in the ropes, and rubbed the feathers in his face. Arion was now a heel, and pinned Strongbow in eastern arenas as he went on to challenge champion Bruno Sammartino.

Strongbow won his first WWWF World Tag Team Championship on May 22, 1972 with partner Sonny King. They defeated the team of Baron Mikel Scicluna and King Curtis Iaukea. Strongbow and King held the title for a month before losing it to the team of Mr. Fuji and Professor Toru Tanaka on June 27.

Four and a half years later, on December 7, 1976, Strongbow won his second WWWF World Tag Team Championship, this time with partner Billy White Wolf. The team won the title in a three-team tournament, defeating The Executioners and Nikolai Volkoff and Tor Kamata. Their reign was cut short in August 1977 when the belts were vacated due to White Wolf suffering a neck injury at the hands of Ken Patera's Swinging Full Nelson.

Strongbow also competed for The Sheik's Big Time Wrestling promotion in Detroit. He had a memorable feud with "Bulldog" Don Kent, which culminated in a "shark cage match" in 1977. Strongbow and Kent fought inside of a small shark cage, with the first man to escape being declared the winner. With an assist from fellow fan favorite Mark Lewin, Strongbow was able to escape the shark cage victorious.

Strongbow retired in 1985, but would still step back into the ring from time to time, most notably for a legends battle royal in East Rutherford, New Jersey in 1987. In retirement, Strongbow became a WWF road agent and worked in the company's front office. He also participated in a 1994 storyline in which he mentored Tatanka, in his feud with Irwin R. Schyster. Chief Jay Strongbow was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame by Gorilla Monsoon in 1994. Strongbow also made a brief appearance on the November 17, 2008 edition of Monday Night Raw when Stephanie McMahon introduced him to the audience in Atlanta.

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