In the 1960’s, a former boxer in the U.S.Navy and Deputy Sheriff at The Houston County Sheriff’s Department named Leon Baxter made his professional wrestling debut by wrestling as ”Tarzan Baxter” all over the Southern United States, but his most fruitful stint was in Leroy McGuirk’s Tri-State Wrestling where he had a legendary feud over the United States Junior Heavyweight Title with Danny Hodge, one of the top wrestlers in the Junior Heavyweight division. During this period, he also teamed with Juan Sebastian in Georgia and The Carolinas as The Masked Guachos.
By the 1970’s, he returned to his home territory Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling managed by Joe Powell as a member of the tag team ”The Masked Wrestling Pros” the team eventually split when when the other ”Wrestling Pro” unmasked revealing himself to be a wrestler named Tim Tyler. Which prompted Leon to go it alone as ”The Wrestling Pro”, it was no secret that The Wrestling Pro was Tarzan Baxter due to his very distinctive voice.
He later teamed with ”The California Hippie” Mike Boyette to capture the Gulf Coast version the NWA United States Tag Team Championship. He would turn on Boyette while defending the belts against Rip Tyler and Eddie Sullivan which made Tyler and Sullivan the new champs.
Eddie Sullivan eventually suffered a broken leg, and The Pro was soon teaming with Rip Tyler with Sullivan as a manager. They soon became the most hated group in the Gulf Coast territory. Afterwards, The Pro defeated Ken Lucas to become the new Gulf Coast Heavyweight Champion, and the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dory Funk Jr. came to the Gulf Coast to defend his title against the winner of a #1 Contender’s Tournament in Mobile, Alabama that would last two weeks.
Since The Pro was the Gulf Coast champ, most were hoping he would win the tourney, and get a shot at the The World Heavyweight Title. However, the universally hated Donnie Fargo who had been suspended from the Gulf Coast area found a loophole in which he was able to enter the second week of the tourney under a mask as ”Mr. D”.
In the finals of the tourney, Mr. D defeated The Pro costing him the shot at Dory Funk Jr. and the World Title. As a result of the match with Fargo, the fans began to love The Pro, but their love for him would be short lived as he began teaming with The Spoiler who at the time was the most hated wrestler in the Gulf Coast area.
The Pro then started feuding with Cowboy Bob Kelly who had beaten Donnie Fargo for the Gulf Coast Heavyweight Title and was also the Mississippi Heavyweight Champion. The Pro wanted a title shot so badly that he beat the living hell out of Cowboy Bob Kelly on a television taping, and cut his hair! Which sent Kelly screaming that he wanted a match against The Pro, a match in which Kelly lost both titles, they then had a bloody feud in which many of those matches saw The Cowboy tear the mask right off The Pro, but luckily the hometown hero from Dothan knew how to cover his ”beautiful face” up.
He eventually lost both back titles back to Cowboy Bob Kelly, and started a feud with
The Mysterious Medic who soon teamed with him to regain The Gulf Coast version of the NWA United States Tag Team Titles. The Pro briefly disppeared after he and The Medic lost the titles.
One of The Pro’s biggest feuds was with NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion Ken Mantell.
From the words of Cowboy Bob Kelly:
The Pro challenged Mantell to championship match, but The Pro weighed too much. Mantell told him if he got down to the correct weight, and agreed to put his mask up against the belt, he would give him a match. The match was signed.
The night of the match I was promoting for Lee (Fields), I took a set of scales into the ring, and weighed The Pro. He was down to the correct weight, the match ended with the referee getting knocked out, and The Pro clearly winning the match. But a second referee came in, and counted out The Pro by Mantell having his feet on the ropes.
The crowd went crazy wanting The Pro to take his mask off, I went out and got into the ring as The Pro was taking his mask off and stopped him. I told The Pro he didn’t have to unmask, I told him that I would like to see him without his mask too, but right is right, and wrong is wrong.
I told everyone I saw what happened, that The Pro had Mantell beat fair and square, and as I far as I’m concerned The Wrestling Pro is the new World Junior Heavyweight Champion. I tried to get the belt from Mantell, but he took off with it.
It was after I got a message from NWA President Sam Muschnick on TV to stop calling The Pro the champion, that I decided to get a belt made for The Pro. When I presented to him in the ring, the people cheered just as loud as if he had won it.
I said the only way to stop The Pro from being called the champion was for Mantell to come to Mobile, and take it away from him. Then Sam Muschnick sent several interviews to the TV Station ordering me to stop.
When I wouldn’t, he sent in several troubleshooters to defeat The Pro (the most notable troubleshooter being legendary World Heavyweight Champion Lou Thesz) when none of the troubleshooters could get the job done, Sam sent one more message saying that The Pro was a better man than he anticipated, and that he would send Mantell back to Mobile to wrestle The Pro belt for belt.
We several packed houses with this angle, and a standing room only crowd when Mantell came to town.
The Wrestling Pro feuded with NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco when The Pro was named the #1 Contender in the Gulf Coast. During their first match, it appeared as if The Pro had won the World Heavyweight Title when the referee saw The Pro’s feet were on the ropes. As a result, the title was awarded back to Brisco, and The Pro was disqualified. Since the match ended on a technicality, Brisco awarded him a rematch.
On the night of their first attempt at a rematch, Jack Brisco had flight trouble, and couldn’t get to the Gulf Coast due to an emergency landing the plane made in Memphis. As a result, The Pro had to wrestle Ken Lucas in a non-title match that night.The Pro and Brisco finally got around to their rematch which Brisco retain the title.
The Pro then aligned himself with Gulf Coast Heavyweight Champion Duke Miller, Gorgeous George Jr, and Billy Spears. The short lived group’s faced off against The Pro’s old rivals Cowboy Bob Kelly, ”The California Hippie” Mike Boyette, The Mysterious Medic (Tony Gonzalez), and Sweet Daddy Watts in The California Rumble in which Murder Inc. dressed in street clothes except for Duke Miller who dressed in a suit while their opponents were dressed like a motorcycle gang. Miller quickly pulled out of the match with the remaining seven men covered in blood due to the abscence of Miller the odds were in favor of Kelly, Boyette, The Medic, and Watts who won The California Rumble.
Leon Baxter then went to Ron Fuller’s Southeastern Championship Wrestling territory in Knoxville, Tennessee, teamed with fellow Dothan, Alabama native Dick Dunn as The Masked Superstars, and held the Knoxville version of the Southeastern Tag Team Titles. He eventually returned to the Gulf Coast area to beat Terry Lathan to regain the Gulf Coast Heavyweight Title, and feuded with Alabama Heavyweight Champion and former manager Rip Tyler.
Heated rival Ken Mantell returned to Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling after losing the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title, they had a short feud over the Gulf Coast Heavyweight Title, The Wrestling Pro eventually lost the title to Kurt Von Hess.
Ron Fuller’s Southeastern Championship Wrestling began promoting in the Gulf Coast area, and The Pro wrestled occassionally putting over wrestlers like Austin Idol and the man who would eventually become Hulk Hogan. He started teaming with another masked wrestler who called himself The Super Pro who turned on Baxter, lost to him in a mask vs. mask match.
The Super Pro was revealed to be Randy Rose who would later form The Original Midnight Express with Dennis Condrey and Norvelle Austin. Leon Baxter pretty much retired after this, but he made an appearance at The Continental Reunion show earlier this year where he finally took off the mask, it was one of the highest selling shows, they had in 2004.
He has also retired from The Houston County Sheriff’s Department in Dothan, Alabama, and now enjoys his retirement.