Pages past, July 11: Haystacks Calhoun heads to Tucumcari
Last updated 7/10/2021 at 3:52pm
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1976: Legendary wrestler Haystacks Calhoun was on his way to his mother’s home in Tucumcari where his career seemed in jeopardy.
Calhoun, alleged to weigh 601 pounds, was suffering from an infected toe that doctors warned could result in the loss of a leg if it wasn’t treated.
Calhoun said he suffered the injury in Atlanta, wrestling barefoot as usual in an 18-man battle royal.
His mother, Millie White, lived in Tucumcari and Calhoun said that’s where he would seek treatment from his family doctor.
“If the toe comes off, I’ll be back. If that’s not it and it’s the leg, I figure I won’t be around long anyway,” he told reporters. “I’d become an invalid and have somebody take care of me. Rather than be an invalid I’d just rather go and check out.”
Calhoun, 41, said he was optimistic about recovering, but said he was sorry to be disappointing wrestling fans in cities where he’d planned to compete in coming weeks.
“I may be from the old school, but I believe I have a certain obligation to the fans,” he said. “(Promoters) advertised me in these towns already and people will come to see me, and I won’t be there.”
Calhoun earned his nickname and first became nationally known in the 1950s after he appeared on Art Linkletter’s House Party, tossing bales of hay into a loft.
He said he’d suffered multiple injuries throughout his career and had always bounced back.
“I still have another 10 good years provided I can stay healthy,” he said. “Of course, the older you get the harder it is to get over injuries.”
Whatever happened, he vowed he’d never wrestle barefoot again.
Calhoun did recover and continued wrestling four more years. He died in 1989 at age 55 from complications related to diabetes.
In 2003, World Wrestling Entertainment listed him among its 50 greatest superstars of all time.
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