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The Man, the Myth, the Legend Vol. 5: Dusty Rhodes

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Dusty Rhodes attempts to irish whip his perennial rival Ric Flair.
Dusty Rhodes attempts to Irish whip his perennial rival Ric Flair.

“I have wined and dined with kings and queens and I’ve slept in alleys and dined on pork and beans.” 

Dusty Rhodes said that in an interview, and it perfectly exemplifies his appeal. A successful sportsman and professional athlete who still possessed blue-collar grit, he was loved by millions of working-class fans in America.

The story of Dusty Rhodes is one of working hard and taking life's knocks as you go. Born Virgil Runnels Jr., he was considered a decent college football and baseball player, enough so that he played professionally in the years before NFL dominance of the sport.

Once football no longer offered any opportunities, Runnels turned to pro wrestling. He literally bluffed his way into his first match, an ignoble start to what would become a legendary career.

Here are ten pivotal moments from Dusty Rhodes's career.

#1 Wrestling Frank Scarpa for the world title and then spending Thanksgiving in a soup kitchen


Though he had no experience, Dusty's real-life friendship with Terry and Dory Funk opened doors in the wrestling business. From there, his raw, natural athleticism and overwhelming charisma took over.

In less than a year he was challenging Frank Scarpa for the Big Time Wrestling championship. Rhodes was paid poorly for his efforts, so much so that shortly after challenging for the world title he ended up in a Boston soup kitchen because he couldn't afford to buy food.

#2 International Stardom as part of the Texas Outlaws

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Though most fans remember Dusty Rhodes as the perennial good guy, he actually grew into his fame as a rule-breaking heel.

When he expanded beyond the Texas territories in 1968, Dusty started teaming with fellow Texan "Captain Redneck" Dick Murdoch. Murdoch and Rhodes were known as the Texas Outlaws, and their fame spread far from the Lone Star State. The Outlaws traveled the globe, winning titles in the US as well as Australia and Japan.

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Christopher Scott Wagoner is a fiction writer and freelance journalist from Austin, Texas. Dune is his favorite novel and Dean Malenko is his favorite wrestler.
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