By: William G. Muir
This week in 1984 Hulk Hogan beat the Iron Sheik to win his first ever WWF Heavyweight Championship. This was the launching point of what would later become known as Hulkamania. While the “Hulkster” was busy becoming the first man to ever escape the Camel Clutch, another professional wrestler was making history on that night as well.
Some 1,155 miles south of the celebration that was going on in Madison Square Gardens that night; in a small town Alabama high gymnasium. Pro wrestler Bobby “The Brick Layer” Lukasiewicz was loosing his 300th wrestling match to German born wrestler Klaus Himler. A notorious Nazi sympathizer. The match ended under a cloud of controversy when Himler's manager, The Crazy Russian, distracted the referee. While the referee was busy trying to get The Crazy Russian out of the ring, Himler reached into his left boot and pulled out a pair of brass knuckles. After hitting Lukasiewicz with the foreign object Himler slipped them in to his shorts and cover Lukasiewicz for the one, two, three.
Bobby “The Brick Layer” Lukasiewicz was born Robert Brown Jr. in Hanson, Ky in November of 1929. Robert's father was a Mill worker until the Stock Market crash in 1929. After that Robert Brown Sr. packed up his family and he took odd jobs wherever he could them in the Bluegrass state. Robert Jr. was born in loft of a barn as that was his families residency while his father was working as farm hand.
Growing up on the move during the depression meant that young Robert had very little time for schooling. When he reached age seven he was determined to be strong enough to go to work side by side with his father and two older brothers to help bring in money so the family could eat. Though he received very little education Robert's mother was hell bent on making sure that he could read. Mrs. Brown had been a school teacher before she started having children and she knew the importance of being able to read. That was why she could be found late at night drilling her seven children on their reading lesson.
Working manual labor jobs was not the the future that Robert Brown Jr. envisioned for himself. But having very little education left him with no other options. Or so he thought. While working on the farm one day the farmer asked if Robert could come help him do some repairs around the house. Young Robert jumped at the opportunity to get out of field work for the day. Working around the house meant escaping the hot summer sun beating down on your head and it also came with a hot meal cooked by the farmer's wife.
While on his lunch break he asked the farmer if he could read the newspaper when the farmer was through with it. The farmer not keen on conversing with the help when it was it was not necessary grunt and handed over the sport section Robert. Not knowing much about sports Robert just scanned through the articles taking in what passed for the heroics in that day until he came one article in particular. That weekend there was going to be a wrestling show taking place in Dawson Springs, Ky, just thirty miles south of Hanson.
Only problem being Robert could not attend that show cause he would have to work that weekend. Nevertheless Robert was determined that he would one day make it to a wrestling show.
The years passed, The Great Depression had ended and the world was plummeted into war. Robert's two olders brother had gone off to war to fight against the Nazis in Europe. Being too young to go himself Robert was left at home to help support his parents. Robert Sr. had been in a car accident were he suffered severe back damage. Leaving him unable to work any longer.
While having drinks one night after work with his buddies Robert read a flyer promoting a wrestling show in Madisonville, Ky the following night. A particular bit of the flyer caught Robert's attention, it was an open challenge. Anyone that could stay in the ring with the Worlds Heavyweight Champion for three minutes would win twenty dollars. Twenty dollars was more than Robert could earn in two weeks working as a farmhand. He decided that he would hitchhike into Madisonville the next day to take part in the challenge.
The next day when Robert made it into Madisonville he started asking around for directions to where the wrestling show would be taking place. As it so happened Robert had gone into Rex's Diner to ask for directions and the promoter was in there having lunch. When he took at one look at Robert, the bit of steak that was in his mouth about fell out as he was in awe of what he saw. Robert was six foot two inches tall and years of preforming backbreaking work had given him the body of Superman.
The promoter nearly jumped out of his booth to offer young Robert a ride to the show. But first he would need to finish his lunch. He asked Robert if he was hungry, it was going to be his treat.
After both men had eaten they left the restaurant and got into the promoters car. It was a big black Cadillac, Robert had never been in anything so fancy before. Once the doors had shut and the driver had pulled away from the diner the promoter made Robert an offer that would change his life. Instead of Robert taking the challenge that night and only having a chance at twenty dollars. Robert could fill in for a sick wrestler tonight and make himself fifty dollars instead.
When Robert pointed out that he had never even seen a wrestling show before, much less wrestle. The promoter told him that that was no problem, all Robert would need to do was to get in the ring and let his opponent do all the work. After some thought Robert agreed to do the job. He was not sure if what he was doing was entirely on the up and up but he had the chance to make fifty dollars. That was two months wages in just one night. Only a fool would turn that down.
That night the ring announcer introduced him as the Farmhand. The crowd booed him as he made his way to the ring. He was facing a popular babyface wrestler that night, Pvt. Alex Persing. Luckily for Robert the match didn't last that long. Before he even knew what was going on he was on his back and the ref was counting to three.
As he went to collect his fifty dollars from the promoter that night the promoter wanted to talk with him. The promoter said he was really impressed with what he saw that night. He liked the way that Robert looked and that with some training who knew maybe he could even win a match or two. The promoter asked Robert if he was interested or not.
Standing there holding fifty dollars, two months pay in his hands sure did fell good. Robert hated working whatever job that came his way just to earn enough to get by. He had dreamed of one day leaving it all that behind and going out and seeing the world. And here was his chance, his only chance. With no education he would never be able to land a decent job. And he would never be sent to fight in this war, his parents needed him to provide for them.
It was settled, with a handshake Robert start his new life.
Robert spent a few decades in the wrestling business. He had only been fifteen when he started performing in matches. But he worked hard and traveled throughout all the wrestling territories. While he never did gain the fame he thought would when he first started out, Robert did make a good living. Somewhere down the line some promoter thought to bill Robert as Bobby “The Brick Layer” Lukasiewicz. The region had a very big polish population and the promoter thought having a name that made him sound like the common man would help get him over. It didn't but the name stuck with him through the rest of his career.
After losing his three hundredth match Bobby Lukasiewicz officially retired from the wrestling business. Robert Brown Jr. went on to open a bait shop in his hometown of Hanson, Ky. There him and his second wife raised their three children, making sure that each one of them received a college education.
Robert was inducted into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2001. Sadly he died the day after the ceremony.