Goodbye Gordon Solie

Longtime Wrestling Announcer Dies

.c The Associated Press

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (AP) - Gordon Solie, a professional wrestling announcer whose graphic commentary became a fixture of Florida matches in the 1960s and 1970s, died at 71.

He died Thursday of brain cancer at his home in New Port Richey. Late last year, Solie lost his larynx to cancer, the result of years of smoking.

``He was the man - the absolute best to ever call a match,'' said former professional wrestler Dusty Rhodes. ``Back in the '70s, the announcer wasn't in on everything that was going on in the ring and behind the curtain, so Gordon had to call it like he saw it.''

Solie grew up in Minnesota with dreams of becoming a broadcaster. He joined the Air Force after graduating from high school and moved to Tampa after he left the military. He worked as a disc jockey and a radio reporter before landing his first job in pro wrestling.

``I made $5 a night emceeing a weekly wrestling card in Tampa,'' Solie said in an interview last year. ``From there I worked my way into the announcer's spot.''

He became a fixture on Championship Wrestling from Florida telecasts for nearly two decades before he was hired by Ted Turner to work the Georgia Championship Wrestling on cable superstation WTBS in the 1980s.

``If you grew up in Florida or Georgia you knew who Gordon Solie was,'' former wrestler Steve Keirn said. ``Me, Hulk Hogan, Dick Slater. We all imitated Gordon. He used the most detailed descriptions and adjectives in describing the action, he was an original.''

Barbara Clary, a Spanish teacher in Zephyrhills, once worked for Solie.

``I was bilingual and he wanted me to conduct interviews with some of the wrestlers in Spanish for all the wrestling fans that watched the shows in Cuba,'' Clary recalled. ``He was a wonderful, wonderful person with a great and loving family. He will be missed.'