Tom Cole dead at age 50, key accuser in the WWE/WWF Ring Boy scandal


By Jason Powell, Editor (@prowrestlingnet)

Tom Cole took his own life on Friday at age 50. Cole’s brother Lee shared the news along with scathing comments regarding Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon (Tweets available below). Cole worked as a ring boy for WWE (then known as the WWF/Titan Sports) and accused employee Terry Garvin and ring announcer Mel Phillips of misconduct.

Cole stated in multiple interviews that he rejected the sexual advances of the Garvin (Terry Joyal), who was fired by the company following the ring boy scandal. In a 1999 interview, Cole recalled Garvin offering him a WWE warehouse job when he was 19. He claimed that Garvin drove him to his home where he claimed his wife and kids would be. Upon arrival, Garvin claimed to have forgotten that his family was in Florida. Cole alleged that Garvin played a pornographic video and offered to perform oral sex on him. Cole said he rejected Garvin’s offer and spent the night sleeping in a van during a snowstorm. The next morning, Garvin dropped him off at the warehouse, and then former WWE ring announcer Mel Phillips Jr. informed him later that day that Garvin no longer wanted him to work at the warehouse. Garvin, who resigned from the WWF following multiple sexual misconduct accusations, died on August 17, 1998 at age 61.

Cole accused Phillips of having an unhealthy fascination with children’s feet. Cole alleged that Phillips wrestled with him and grabbed his feet when he was 12 or 13 years-old. Cole stated in the 1999 interview that he questioned the behavior as he grew older and once kicked Phillips to make him stop. “That’s how it stopped,” Cole said. “He never tried anything else. I guess he knew. When you started getting older, he started calling less. Once that happened, he started calling less, but l still went to the shows at the Garden. I’d just show up. But he was like trying to get rid of you. He liked the younger kids who couldn’t give him a problem about it or didn’t realize that there was something wrong with it.” Phillips was fired following the ring boy scandal.

Cole also accused the late Pat Patterson of grabbing his buttocks. “He used to, when I was younger, I can’t be specific, but l was in the 15-year-old range, 16-year-old, he’d look at you when he was talking to you, he’d look right at your crotch and he’d like lick his lips and shit,” Cole told in 1999. “He’d make sexual gestures by looking at you like that. He put his hand on your ass and squeeze your ass and stuff like that. He’d check you out like you were a chick. That’s pretty much all that he did.” Cole told Mike Mooneyham in a 2011 Charleston Post and Courier interview that Patterson was openly gay and “didn’t have anything to do with kids.” Patterson died on December 2, 2020 at age 79.

Cole reached an out of court settlement with WWE, which he described in the interview. “I got my job back, two years back pay, they could never like try to say, try to go against me what they agreed with the understanding of everything that happened to me,” he said. “They weren’t going to try to fight that issue and Terry Garvin and Mel Phillips would never, ever again be employed by Titan Sports or the World Wrestling Federation or any parent company thereof. They had a clause in there about Pat Patterson, but it wasn’t pertaining to him never working for the company again. So they knew from the beginning, which I didn’t realize being young and not looking at the document. I was young. Pat Patterson wound up coming back a couple of weeks later.”

Cole’s settlement included the company paying for his education. “But I didn’t do good in college because it was very hard concentrating,” Cole told “Going through all that stuff, I could not concentrate on anything and I failed.” Cole also recalled telling Linda McMahon that he was having a hard time concentrating in school and wanted to return to work for the company, but she told him to focus on school. When he failed to improve his grades, the company dismissed him, and Linda wrote him a letter. Cole recalled her writing that he had the opportunity of a lifetime and let it slip through his fingers. Cole went on unemployment and said the company challenged it on five or six occasions, but he won each appeal, including once when Linda actually attended the hearing and took issue with him sharing details of being molested and sexually harassed.

Cole was asked in the interview to characterize Vince McMahon and Linda McMahon. “Vince McMahon I would sum up as manipulative and conniving, ruthless,” he said. “Not a very nice guy. Linda McMahon, I wish I could say she was a nice person. Sometimes she gave me that feeling and sometimes she didn’t. I don’t even think there’s a word how I feel. I don’t know what I feel about Linda McMahon. Disappointed. Disappointed in everything that she had promised they would do. When it came down to it, they didn’t.”

Powell’s POV: My condolences to the Cole family on their tragic loss. David Bixenspan wrote about the ring boy scandal in October 2020 in a piece that can be read at Bixenspan’s story includes a statement from WWE attorney Jerry McDevitt, who described allegations that the McMahons were aware of the accusations against Phillips and continued to employ him as being “outlandish” and “classic libel.”


Readers Comments (12)

  1. THis matter should not be adjudicated in the court of public opinion especialy 30 years later when the alleged perpetrators are deceased and cannot defend themselves against the baseless accusations.

    Vince and Linda Mcmahon fired mel phillips from the company. Mel phillips was never arrested by the police and was never charged with a crime in any court of law.

    • You claimed “baseless accusations.” So it’s okay for you to decide that the allegations are “baseless” even though the accuser is no longer here to defend himself?

      • I was wrong to use the word “baseless”. The fact remains that mel phillips who was the main person in this matter was never arrested by the police or faced child sex harassment charges in ANY court of law.

        The Mcmahons parted ways with mel phillips and terry garvin. Pat Patterson was the only person who ever returned to wwe.

        Don’t forget that superstar billy graham admitted that he made up lies regarding pat patterson and his alleged acts with ring boys.

        Phil Mushnick has always had an obsessive vendetta against vince mcmahon going back to the early 1990s. He used tom cole to help him in his mission to ruin vince mmcahon.

        Vince mcmahon got the last laugh on mushnick by becoming a billionaire in recent years duer to his success running wwe.

  2. This would be a great topic for Dark Side of The Ring. I just wonder with all the details and stories it might need to be two parts?

    • IF DARK SIDE OF THE RING tries to do a story on this scandal, its producers and vice tv better prepare themselves to be served with a massive lawsuit from wwe on behalf of the mcmahons.

      I hope wwe sues this stupid show and vice tv into bankruptcy.

      • And yet Phil Donahue and the other television shows that covered all of this back in the day are still waiting for those lawsuits to be filed.

        • I am talking about darkside of the ring making DIRECT ACCUSATIONS that vince and linda mcmahon knew abou the alleged actions of mel phillips and terry garvin.

          The donahue show was different in that vince mmcahon was a guest on the show back in 1992 and was given the opportunity to address the matter at hand and give his point of view and defend his company.

          I know you “hate” the mcmahons because they offend your high vlaue morals by doing business with saudi arabia.

          The Mcmahons’ lawyers have the right to sue any show which attempts to blame them for incidents which allegedly took place over 30 years ago without any proof.

          Even if mel phillips and terry garvin engaged in inappropriate behavior with naive teenagers back in the 1980’s, the matter is closed. Phillips and Garvin died years ago and the statute of limitations for the alleged victims to file complaints expired over 20 years ago.

          • You sure do make a lot of assumptions. I have no hate for the McMahon family. I just don’t worship them. Can you say the same?

          • I don’t worship the Mcmahons. I just worship GOD.

            I just find it insulting that many wrestling “fans” and “journalists” love to blame the mcmahons for everything under the sun.

            Dark side of the ring is a biased , one sided hit piece against wwe.

            Many hardore fans believe that vince is guilty od everything wrong with the industry because wrestlers and behind the scenes staff are uneducated morons who can’t control their behaviors and should never be held accountable for their good or bad behaviors in a court of law or mainstream society.

          • Oh, those poor tortured McMahons. Thank goodness you are here for them.

          • The mcmahons are enjoying their lives and could care less about ignorant fans who bash them out of jealousy or because they believe that wwe “owes them something in exhange for their lousy 10 bucks a month.

            The mcmahons are in a much better place right now than their good friend, former PRESIDENT Donald Trump who has a long list of legal problems coming his way in the very near future.

  3. This topic was appropriate to discuss at the time bc the alleged victimn killed himself, whether or not the accused we’re still alive or not.

    Dark Side discusses more thank just WWE.

    Its fair to say if one dislikes Vince, every rumor will be considered true.

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