Welch Brothers (Roy, Jack, Herb, Lester)

Welch Brothers (Roy, Jack, Herb, Lester)

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Real Names - Roy, Albert, Herbert and Lester Welch
Lifespans - 12/19/02 - 9/?/77; n/a, ?/?/08 - 3/29/99; ?/?/?? - living
Aliases - Les Welch [Lester]
Athletic background - n/a

Place in History - There are many famous pro-wrestling families with numerous members in the business. One may think the Hart Family holds the record and they would be surprised to know that the Welch/Fuller/Fields/Golden family has the record with nearly twenty members who promoted, wrestled and refereed throughout Tennessee and Alabama. Ed Welch was a Cherokee who lived in Oklahoma and had seven children and five - Roy, Jack, Herb, Lester and Bonnie - would become involved in pro-wrestling by various means. A wrestler himself, Ed Welch taught his boys the sport and Roy, the oldest, made his way south to Texas in the 1930s and trained under Cal Farley and the original Dutch Mantell. Welch toured around as a light heavyweight champion and the handler of Miss Ginger, one of the earliest wrestling bears, while establishing himself in Tennessee. By the 1940s, Roy's active career was winding down and he went into promoting out of Nashville with Nick Gulas and would do that for next thirty-plus years. Lester Welch was the most successful pro-wrestler of the Welch boys. Roy was instrumental in his training and he took himself as an Oklahoma cowboy and was successful throughout the Southeastern US. Lester feuded with the likes of King Karl Kowalski, Sputnik Monroe and Rowdy Red Roberts formed numerous tag teams while partnering up with his brothers and other top babyfaces. While Lester was a good wrestler, he was more notably a promoter. In the early 1970s, Lester owned stock in Florida when it was on the rise. When he and Roy's son traded stock and Lester came to Atlanta, he rubbed Ann Gunkel the wrong way and led her to leaving and taking much of the talent with her. Lester, Roy Welch and Paul Jones kept the NWA affiliation afloat and eventually survived the fiasco. The other two Welch brothers, Herb and Jack, spent much of their career bouncing around the South and frequently tagging with Lester. Herb was particularly successful in Mobile, where a feud with Red Roberts propelled him from an upset kid to a legacy that was not forgotten in that region. He also had runs in Nashville teaming with Al Costello and feuding with Don Greene in the late 1960s. While he was regarded as a talented wrestler, Herb is remembered most fondly as a ribber. In his later years, he would both the Honky Tonk Man and Koko Ware in his later years. Jack, however, lacked the ability and charisma to be more than a babyface who put over heels and he spent his whole career as a hanger-on with his talented brothers. The Welch legacy certainly includes the generations that followed. Roy, not surprisingly, had the most successful kin. His son, Edward, took the name "Buddy Fuller" and became a successful pro-wrestler and promoter much like his father and uncle Les. Buddy's sons, Ron and Robert, both became great successes as well. Ron's SECW (Southeastern Championship Wrestling) ran two brands out of Knoxville and Mobile with great success for many years. Robert was a well-toured babyface, heel and manager in the 1970s through the 1990s. Roy's other child, Ruby, had a brother-in-law, Phil, and nephew, Jimmy, who were both active in pro-wrestling and Eddie Golden is a descendent who still works the indies. Lester's son Roy Lee Welch and Herb's son Bobby Welch were both talented youngesters in their days, but chiefly worked underneath. One of the girls in the Welch family, Bonnie, married referee Virgil "Speedy" Hatfield and bore three boys who became known as Lee, Don and Bobby Fields. Lee was the promoter of GCCW (Gulf Coast Championshp Wrestling), the predecessor of SECW in Alabama and he and his brothers were top babyfaces in that company, which also featured their kids, Ricky, Shane and Randy, as wrestlers or referees. While Ed Welch will be perhaps unknown to many, he sired two of the most influential people in pro-wrestling history in Roy and Lester Welch and two more stars of Southern rasslin' to go along with them. Past that those boys and his daughter Bon brought in several generations of pro-wrestling players in what is unquestionably the largest and one of the most successful families the sport will ever see.

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