The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is pleased to announce that "Irish" Davey O'Hannon, longtime professional wrestler and advocate for the hall of fame, will serve on the IPWHF Board of Directors.
As he once said in a ringside interview, Davey O'Hannon has a "Ph.D. in professional wrestling." During the 1970s and 80s, O'Hannon wrestled in territories across the United States and Puerto Rico, and toured internationally in Japan, Canada, and Hong Kong. In more than 3000 matches spanning an 18-year ring career, O'Hannon faced off with a who's who of opponents in shows at Madison Square Garden and other major arenas. Today, O'Hannon is considered one of the top "workers" of his generation.
"If there was a Hall of Fame for 'workers,' Davey would be inducted in one of the first classes," said Tony Vellano, IPWHF Vice President. In professional wrestling terms, this distinction means that O'Hannon possessed the rare ability to consistently deliver high-quality matches with a diverse set of opponents. Most of the time, O'Hannon performed the role of "heel," or villain, and fans would delight in seeing him defeated by their heroic "babyface."
Though he had a talent for drawing "heat" from wrestling audiences, Davey O'Hannon is undoubtedly a good guy and friend to the IPWHF. "He is a true gentleman," Vellano said, reflecting on their two decades of collaboration. O'Hannon was an early and active supporter of Vellano's work, serving on the board of his first pro wrestling museum (formerly in Amsterdam, NY) and contributing significantly to the success of that project. O'Hannon has continued to advocate for a distinguished hall of fame for his fellow professional wrestlers, which he will now help to create with the IPWHF.
A native of New Jersey, O'Hannon knew he wanted to be a pro wrestler at seven years old. He remembers being in the audience when Bruno Sammartino defeated Buddy Rogers for the world championship at Madison Square Garden, and how that moment inspired him to pursue his own wrestling carer. "I started bugging the promotors," says O'Hannon. That's when he met Arnold Skaaland, an agent with Capitol Wrestling, a New York-area promotion that operated the World Wide Wrestling Federation and later became WWF/WWE. "Skaaland told me to go to college and then come back and see him," O'Hannon remembers.
O'Hannon took Skaaland's advice, enrolling at Missouri where he would also play football. However, his passion for wrestling could not be delayed as he attended matches in the Midwest. "I would show up at the arena door, hours early, and tell them I was one of the wrestlers," says O'Hannon. After finding his way backstage, always ready to work, Davey was given an opportunity by Kansas City promoter, Gus Karras, to wrestle his first match against Joe Scarpello. Equipped with just an amateur background, O'Hannon got his pro wrestling training on the job. "Scarpello really stretched me that night," he laughs.
O'Hannon's performance in Kansas City impressed Karras enough to book Davey in his first television match, this time squaring off against none other than Lou Thesz, the legendary NWA champion. Soon after, O'Hannon found work in other territories as well, including with Skaaland, who put him in another television match with Tony Garea in Philadelphia. In the Texas territory, O'Hannon took on the Von Erichs and the Funks, and captured the Texas Brass Knuckles Championship and the NWA Western States Tag Team Championship with tag partner Dennis Stamp.
O'Hannon describes himself as a "journeyman" in professional wrestling as he looks back on his remarkable experiences in the ring. Among his most memorable opponents he cites Dory and Terry Funk, Dominic DeNucci, Ray Stevens, Pat Patterson, Manny Soto, and Pete Sanchez, along with his friends and fellow heels, Ernie Ladd and Baron Mikel Scicluna. However, it was a 1982 match against Johnny Rodz at Madison Square Garden that he remembers as one of his finest moments in the ring. The two men battled to a 20-minute time limit draw that had the fans on their feet. "We tore the house down," says O'Hannon.
Davey O'Hannon will serve with other internationally accomplished wrestling stars on the IPWHF Board of Directors, including Rocky Johnson and J.J. Dillon, whose positions were also announced recently. O'Hannon, along with his fellow board officers, will contribute unparalleled industry experience to support the creation of the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, which will include a world-class museum in New York State.
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The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame received approval from the New York State Board of Regents on December 10, 2019. The organization is committed to promoting and preserving the history of professional wrestling, including the many contributions by wrestlers and individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The IPWHF museum will be constructed in Upstate NY in a location to be announced.