Longtime San Antonio resident Frank Goodish, revered by wrestling fans (especially Japanese fans) as Bruiser Brody for his marauding-barbarian style, was murdered in a Puerto Rico dressing room in July 1988. The wrestler and booker who stabbed him was acquitted, but rumors persist to this day that Goodish was killed at the behest of a prominent promoter for being a stand-up guy, unwilling to “do the job” — lose the match — when the script commanded it. Maybe the 6-foot, 6-inch Goodish’s football background ingrained in him a sense of fair play, mused one wrestling historian in 1998, but if Brody’s stubborn streak provoked the industry, it also made him the wealthiest independent wrestler at the time of his death.
Goodish was an astute businessman who took his professional responsibilities seriously, says his widow Barbara, whom he met in Sydney, Australia, in the late ’70s. The couple’s former San Antonio neighbor still keeps a favorite Brody saying posted in his middle-school classroom — “Take care of your own business” — a philosophy that Barbara says extended to his showmanship as well as his personal life: “He wanted `his fans` to go to a match and come out of there and have the best night that they had had.”
The man who was the admitted murderer of your husband never served time. That must have been very difficult to deal with.
It was, because when I went down to Puerto Rico, I spent a day with the district attorney of Puerto Rico at that time, and he kind of mentioned that, just because of where it happened, that this might not come to justice, just because of the fact that it was a different country. I had been to Puerto Rico a few times, and it was quite an experience — `but` a lot of the people there are really beautiful people.
The wrestling business was thriving in this almost extra-judicial `environment`, it was part of the popularity.
Yes, it was. As you know, it has changed so much over the years. Those were the days when it was a whole different ball game, so to speak.
Would you mind telling the story of how you and your husband met?
I was working in a hotel in Sydney ... and I was working the front desk the day that he checked in ... `he was` a very popular person, traveling the world — then all of a sudden he walks into the front desk, and I treated everybody, I mean they were just ordinary people; just because they were in the public eye it didn’t make any difference — so I checked him in and he always told me after that, “Man, you really brought me down to earth.” “But then,” he said, “I looked at your legs and you had pretty good legs, so I said, OK, I think I’m just going to see how far this can go.”
What were some of the defining things about `Frank` in his private life that people might not recognize from his public persona?
When he was a businessman, he was Frank Goodish. When he was just a wrestler, the pure hardcore wrestler, he was Bruiser Brody. I could actually see that change when I would take him to the airport: he would be husband and dad and Frank, and then I’d watch him as he walked away — these were the days when you could pull up in front of the airport and stay there for a while — and I would see him walk through the doors of the airport, and his whole mannerism changed, his walk changed, he became this other person. And then the same thing when he came back, he would come right out through the airport doors, and as soon as he got in the car, soon as he saw us, he was husband and dad again.
`Your son was 8 when Frank was killed.` Are there lessons you tried to impart to your son after you lost your husband?
I just wanted him to know honesty, integrity, and don’t be afraid to go after anything, because sometimes we get a lot of doors slammed in our face, but when you really want something, one of those doors is going to open up. `The book` has been really healing, I think, for both of us, because there’s so many different ways that parents are taken away from children, that when it’s something like this, it even makes it harder, because it wasn’t just an accident, it was a malicious act from another person. Even for me that’s probably the hardest that I’ve had to come to terms with in life, but I also know that you have to move on, too, because if you live too much in the past you’re not going to have any future. •
Brody: The Triumph and Tragedy of Wrestling’s Rebel
By Barbara Goodish and Larry Matysik
$19.95, 240 pages
Reading & Signing:
2pm Sat, Oct 13