Harley Race Bio


Harley Race is known by many as one of the greatest wrestlers to have ever stepped foot into a wrestling ring. His respect for this business - in addition to his accomplishments - has led to an enormous amount of respect from peers and fans alike.

Born in Quitman, MO, his family raised him in the farming industry. At an early age though, he developed a love for professional wrestling. This led to Race starting his career at a very early age, training under the Zbyszko brothers. While training, he also worked on the family farm.

St. Joe promoter Gust Karras recruited Race to start working for his promotion in the area. While wrestling for Karras, he did side jobs including driving the nearly 750 lb Happy Humphrey from town to town, gaining exposure in the process.

After driving home, Harley was involved in a serious car accident alongside his newly-married wife. Nearly having his right leg amputated, Race went through rigorous physical therapy to prove all of the doctors that said he would never walk, much less wrestle, again. Returning to the ring, he purchased a ticket for his doctor that helped save his life to watch him wrestle that evening.

After returning, Race started teaming with Larry "The Axe" Hennig and wrestling for the AWA. The 2 quickly gained stardom, defeating Dick "The Brusier" and "The Crusher" in 1965 to win the AWA Tag-Team Championships. After several years of success in the AWA, Race left the company to pursue a singles career

In 1973, Harley Race defeated Dory Funk Jr. in Kansas City, Kansas to win the NWA World's Heavyweight Championship for the first time in a bout that left the fans stunned. Shortly after losing the championship to Jack Brisco, Race defeated Terry Funk to win it a second time - thus allowing him to be the first and only person to win the championship from brothers.

Harley Race would continue to gain steam and momentum throughout his singles career, leading him to become a prominent figure and eventually the face of the NWA. Travelling across the globe, he defended the championship that he held on 8 separate occasions in nearly every country on Earth. During his last reign, he was involved in a lengthy feud with "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. After defeating Flair in 1983 in St. Louis, MO, Flair started to a mega-star in the process of challenging Race for the NWA Championship. This led to Harley eventually issuing a $25,000 bounty on Flair for anyone that could take him out of professional wrestling. On Thanksgiving night, 1983, the 2 had their rematch at a history-making event in Greensboro, NC known as StarrCade. With Gene Kiniski as the special guest referee in the cage match between the 2, Flair came out victorious with Race "passing the torch" to him in the process.

In 1986, Race began competing for the WWF(WWE), managed by his long-time friend - Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. After winning the King of the Ring tournament, the company referred to him as "King" Harley Race. One of his notable feuds in that company pitted Race against The Junk Yard Dog. The rivalry culminated to one of the biggest events in the history of professional wrestling - WrestleMania 3 in Detroit, MI at the Pontiac Silverdome in front of 93,000 people!

After his active career came to an end as a professional wrestler, he then became a manager for WCW, working with the likes of Vader and Lex Luger.

Retiring from the road in the mid-1990's, he moved to Lake of the Ozarks to enjoy time on the water. In 2000, Race started World League Wrestling and the Harley Race Wrestling Academy. With alumni including Trevor Murdoch, Ted DiBiase Jr., Ricky Steamboat Jr., Curtis Axel, John Cone, Ryan Tran, Brian Breaker (Brandon Traven), The Beer City Bruiser, Tomasso Ciampa, Steve Anthony, Leland Race, and more - his reputation is being carried out today!