Born December 1924 in Norfolk, Virginia, Luther Lindsay was a journeyman wrestler who appeared throughout the global territory scene for much of the 1950s and 1960s. Most of his career was spent in North America but he had wrestled overseas in Japan and the United Kingdom.
Before entering wrestling, Lindsay–born Luther Goodall–played high school and collegiate football. He was also a standout amateur wrestler, becoming CIAA champion. Lindsay excelled in college football but was unable to go pro in the U.S. during the 1940s. Instead, he headed off to the Canadian Football League for two years before training for wrestling in 1950 in Calgary under the legendary Stu Hart.
Luther Lindsay Arrives
Lindsay’s athletic background served him well in professional wrestling. He would on his wife’s maiden name for his ring name and by 1953 he was the Negro U.S. Champion. Much like the Negro championships in boxing, they were usually defended and won by the same group of wrestlers. A number of wrestlers in this group of Black wrestlers became star attractions in the National Wrestling Alliance, the governing body for pro wrestling in the U.S. at the time. Luther Lindsay was no different.
What set him apart from many of the 1950s-1960s wave of Black wrestlers was that he wasn’t purely a charismatic brawler. Lindsay was a wrestler in the purest sense of the word. Mat work, wearing down an opponent, submissions, and stamina were what he dealt in. He was so talented in-ring he was considered a peer of the submission game with the likes of Stu Hart, the now deceased head of the world famous Hart Family of wrestling from Calgary.
Traveling Star of the Territories
In the days of the territories–from the 1940s to the early 1990s–a wrestler could do the bulk of their career in one particular territory–a number of large cities and TV markets. This was often the local babyface who was associated with a promotion. Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee in Memphis, Bobo Brazil in Detroit, the Von Erichs in Dallas, Bruno Sammartino and Pedro Morales in New York and New Jersey.
Luther Lindsay was a traveler. While he was very popular in the Mid-Atlantic–one of the anchors of the NWA–he also had a following in the Northwestern U.S. and Alberta, Canada. A strong technical wrestler, he would challenge then World Champion Lou Thesz, one of the best technical wrestlers ever. The matches turned ended in time limit draws and Lindsay was the first Black wrestler to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
His time in Stampede Wrestling (Calgary) during the 1960s was very successful for Luther Lindsay. He gained several championships and title opportunities at Pat O’Connor’s World Championship. Lindsay would win belts throughout his career in roughly all territories he appeared in. The late 1950s into the mid 1960s were hot periods for him.
Lindsay’s time wrestling in the south was much different from Canada, Japan, Hawaii, and elsewhere outside of the region. A situation in the Mid-Atlantic territory during 1966 saw him confronted with a racist wrestler during a match. The wrestler in question refused to apologize on air and caused the promotion to lose its weekly All Star Wrestling TV slot. When he headed to the Memphis territory he was mainly in action against other Black wrestlers.
While in the Mid-Atlantic territory during February 1972, he had his final match against Bobby Paul. The match was expected to be an easy one for Luther Lindsay against the Charlotte, North Carolina native. Following ten minutes of action, Lindsay finished him off with a flying splash from the top.
The referee and noticed that something was wrong as Lindsay never got up or moved after hitting the dangerous move. It was revealed that he had suffered a heart attack upon impact and die at the age of 47.
Some of his peers in the business carried his coffin to his final resting place. He was respected by many in the wrestling industry. Most who worked with Lindsay remarked how great of a wrestler he was, his professionalism, and his character.
In 2017, he was inducted in both WWE’s Hall of Fame’s Legacy Wing. He was also inducted into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in the Television Era wing.