Real name: Harley Leland Race
Born: April 11, 1943
Died: August 1, 2019
Billed height: 6’1”
Billed weight: 253 pounds
Major Titles Held
8-Time NWA World Championship
3-Time AWA World Tag Team Championship
1-Time NWA United States Championship
7-Time NWA Missouri State Championship
1-Time NWA Georgia Heavyweight Championship
1-Time Southern Heavyweight Championship
3-Time Florida Tag Team Championship
1986 King of the Ring
WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2004
NWA Title Defenses
Danny Little Bear, Omar Atlas, Jack Brisco, Ron Fuller, Tim Woods, Bob Orton Jr., Thunderbolt Patterson, Bobo Brazil, Jose Lothario, Sean Regan, Dutch Savage, Bruno Sammartino, Pat O’Connor, Terry Funk, Dory Funk Jr., Ivan Putski, Jerry Brisco, Lord Jonathan Boyd, Johnny Weaver, Rip Hawk, Archie Gouldie, Gene Kiniski, Stan Stasiak, Mike Graham, Superstar Billy Graham, Joe LeDuc, Wahoo McDaniel, Paul Jones, Ted Oates, Ernie Ladd, Bob Slaughter (Sgt. Slaughter), Rocky Johnson, Ken Lucas, Mr. Wrestling II, Moondog Mayne, Bill Watts, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Romero, Giant Baba, Angelo Poffo, Malcolm Monroe, Dick Murdoch, Ken Patera, Tommy Seigler, Victor Rivera, Keith Franks (Adrian Adonis), Ric Flair, The Assassin, Ted DiBiase, Ed Wiskoski, Bruiser Brody, Buddy Rose, Dino Bravo, Jumbo Tsuruta, Bob Armstrong, Steve Keirn, Don Muraco, The Sheik, Andre The Giant, Jimmy Snuka, Pork Chop Cash, David Von Erich, Al Madril, Ox Baker, Don Leo Jonathan, Les Thornton, Bob Sweetan, Brute Bernard, Ciclon Negro, Pedro Morales, Jerry Oates, Crusher Blackwell, Buck Robley, Mike George, Ivan Koloff, Ricky Steamboat, Jerry Lawler, Kurt Von Hess, Paul Christy, Mike Huber (Spike Huber), Dick The Bruiser, Chavo Guerrero, Lanny Poffo, Bob Backlund, Jack Clayborne, Alexis Smirnoff, Halcon Ortiz, The Lawman, Blackjack Mulligan, Tony Atlas, Dean Ho, Mr. Sakurada, Leo Burke, Stan Hansen, Gary Young, Larry Lane, Tony Garea, Dick Slater, Pierre Lefebvre, Kevin Von Erich, Rufus R. Jones, Ron Starr, Jim Garvin, Peter Maivia, Siegfried Stanke, The Spoiler, Steve Travis, Hulk Hogan, Jim Brunzell, Jake Roberts, Tommy Rich, George Gulas, Dennis Condrey, Mr. Fuji, Manny Fernandez, Sweet Brown Sugar, Rock Hunter, Roddy Piper, Rick Martel, Ray Stevens, Frank Dusek, Bob Brown, Mil Mascaras, Dewey Robertson, Austin Idol, Tiger Toguchi, Hercules Ayala, Fritz Von Erich, Bugsy McGraw, Barry Windham, Akio Sato, Gino Hernandez, Mark Lewin, Kerry Von Erich, Angelo Mosca, The Great Kabuki, Buzz Tyler, Bob Sweetan, El Gran Apollo, Charlie Cook, Scott McGhee, George Wells, The Super Destroyer, Mike Rotundo, Kamala, Iceman King Parsons, Billy Jack Haynes, Ron Bass.
Harley Race began his career in 1962 for the Mid-America territory. He would then go on to spend the next year and a half in Central States followed by Dory Funk Sr’s Amarillo territory before settling into the AWA. It was in the AWA where Race became a huge star by winning the AWA Tag Team Championship with Larry Hennig on 3 occasions while feuding with Verne Gagne, Wilbur Snyder, The Bruiser, and The Crusher.
Harley Race wrestled for many of the NWA territories before becoming the NWA World Champion. One of the main territories he based himself out of was the Central States promotion which he eventually became part owner of. It was there that he captured the Central States Championship. He also wrestled regularly for St. Louis, where he captured the prestigious Missouri State Championship on seven occasions, a title at the time that was known as ‘The Stepping Stone to the NWA Championship.’ He also wrestled for Florida and Georgia where he won the singles and tag team titles. He wrestled for Mid-Atlantic, WWC in Puerto Rico, Stampede, and All Japan where he captured their singles titles as well.
Harley Race had eight NWA World Title reigns. He won the title for the first time from Dory Funk Jr. in May of 1973 but lost it to Jack Brisco in July of 1973. He won it again from Terry Funk in February of 1977 before losing it to Dusty Rhodes in August of 1979. Race regained it five days later. He lost it to Giant Baba in October of 1979, but regained it a week later. He lost it again to Baba in September of 1980 and regained it five days later. He lost it in April of 1981 to Tommy Rich, but regained it 4 days later. He lost it again to Rhodes in June of 1981. He won the title from Ric Flair in June of 1983 and lost it back to Flair at Starrcade ‘83. Race won the title from Flair at a house show in March of 1984, but Flair regained it 4 days later. It was not until decades later that the NWA even acknowledged this match took place.
Harley Race finally made the move to the WWF and was managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. He won the King of the Ring tournament in 1986 and he referred to himself as King Harley Race. He defeated the Junkyard Dog at WrestleMania III. In early 1988 at a Saturday Night Main Event, Race faced the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. Race went through a table and had suffered an abdominal injury that required surgery. While he was out, Haku became the new King. Race returned as a babyface to try to regain his crown but was unsuccessful. Race left the WWF in March of 1989.
Harley Race came to WCW at the Great American Bash ‘91 to help Lex Luger defeat Barry Windham for the vacant WCW Championship. Race would go on to manage Luger during his title reign which ended when he lost to Sting at SuperBrawl II. Race then led Vader to the WCW Championship on three occasions. In January of 1995, Race left WCW after he had an automobile accident that required him to have hip replacement surgery.
Harley Race was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2004. Race operated his wrestling/training school from 1999-2019 called World Wrestling League.