D.C. Drake remembers the late Larry Winters


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D.C. Drake remembers the late Larry Winters
2015-01-28 10:15:17


Pro wrestler Don "D.C." Drake shared some memories of Larry Winters, who died of a heart attack on Tuesday.

I was deeply saddened when I was informed of the passing of a friend, exceptional professional wrestler and a fantastic human being Larry Winters. I first met Larry when I was the booker for the small Pennsylvania based Continental Wrestling Alliance (CWA) along with Paul "Big Bear" Swanger. Larry, was working as enhancement talent for the International Wrestling Promotions out of Allentown, Pennsylvania and he caught my eye with the matches he had with Larry Zbyszko who was also working for that organization at the time. Paul, who knew Larry, convinced him to work with our fledgling organization despite our lack of money.

As the organization grew and eventually secured a television outlet, Larry made himself available for television interviews, personal appearances, meetings with potential backers and assisted in the locker room. During this time, Larry introduced me to Bob Raskin, a promoter who was running independent shows throughout New York and New Jersey. It was Raskin's contacts and financial backing that grew the CWA into the National Wrestling Federation (NWF).

During this time, the territory system was coming to an end and the independent scene exploded with the National Wrestling Federation becoming one of the recipients of that popularity by presenting a hardcore style of matches, well known WWF superstars and television programming with vignettes that kept the wrestlers in character. Securing television markets in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, parts of New England and the Rocky Mountain states, shows were being booked across the country. The NWF also secured television in other parts of the world including the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas and Greece and began producing a Spanish language version of the show until the organization shut down after a corporate dispute.

As booker and television producer for the NWF, I depended heavily upon Larry for input on storylines and assistance in running the locker room. After the demise of the NWF, I went on to found ProStar Championship Wrestling which briefly promoted shows at fairs and other venues throughout the Northeast and once again, Larry was there to offer assistance. We later went on to work with Joel Goodhart's Tri-State Wrestling Alliance in a series of hardcore matches held throughout the Northeast. Our matches also appeared on other independents throughout the United States and Canada.

In the past years I have read remarks online critical about the work of the independent wrestlers of that time when comparing them to today's WWE workers. What is important for critics to remember is that wrestlers of that era made little money and often wore many hats. Working as wrestlers, promoters, TV producers, bookers and agents while holding down a full time job outside of the business so they could raise a family and live a somewhat normal life often led to injuries because they were pulled in so many directions. Larry was one of those wrestlers who suffered numerous injuries but he always returned to the ring and the business he loved most.

Although he may be remembered as an "independent wrestler" he was also instrumental in the behind the scenes growth of many organizations and his knowledge of the business. Larry had a profound effect on my life and has allowed me to have many wonderful memories of working with him in the ring but also to experience the loyalty and support of a true friend. He was a true Philadelphia legend both inside and outside the ring. He will be missed.

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