One of the most famous professional wrestlers in Japanese history has died. On Thursday, it was reported that “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer had passed away at age 88.
His son, Kurt Beyer posted the following statement on Thursday:
It is with a very heavy heart to let you know that Dad — aka The Destroyer, aka Doctor X, aka Dick Beyer, aka Coach — passed away shortly past Noon today. He was in bed at home, and was surrounded by all of his children and wife as he slipped peacefully away. I will have more to share later, but wanted you to hear this sad news from me first. Thoughts and prayers are most welcome at his time. Peace.
Beyer attended Seneca Vocational High School and received a full scholarship to Syracuse University to play football and wrestled as a heavyweight. The football team went to the Orange Bowl in January 1953 and was beaten 61-6 by Alabama but was a big achievement for Beyer to play in the bowl game.
He stayed on as an assistant coach at Syracuse, working under Ben Schwartzwalder before he was recruited into professional wrestling.
His career started in 1954 with a major transformation in 1962 that took his career to the next level. Beyer went to California after he was recommended by Freddie Blassie to booker Jules Strongbow. In California, he was put under a mask, which became his trademark and Beyer would claim his income doubled within six months.
As the Destroyer in California, he won the WWA championship three times with his first title win in July 1962 from Blassie and held it until May 1963. He won the title back in July 1964 from Dick the Bruiser and exchanged the title with Cowboy Bob Ellis in late 1964. He also teamed with Hard Boiled Haggarty with two reigns as the NWA Americas tag team champions.
It was in Japan that became a cultural figure as one of the most famous wrestlers in the history of the country. In 1963, his match with Rikidozan attracted an estimated audience of 70 million people.
He signed a contract with Giant Baba’s All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1973 and wrestled for Baba through 1979 while also being featured on the popular NTV series “Uwasa No Channel”. After 1979, he would return to Japan each year until 1993 where his final match took place on July 29, 1993, in Tokyo at age 63.
It was somewhat known that his brother-in-law was the late Billy Red Lyons, who died in June 2009. The two can be seen seated together at the WCW Fall Brawl event in September 2000 with Beyer in his mask facing the hard camera all night.
In November 2017, Beyer was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Ray award for his efforts in promoting goodwill and bi-cultural exchanges between the United States and Japan. He was hopeful of returning to the country for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games to work with the amateur wrestlers.