Acrylic and paint marker on 24″ x 24″ wood
‘Iron’ Mike DiBiase held over thirty championships in his career and was the progenitor of the DiBiase wrestling family. Michael DiBiase was born on December 24, 1923 in New York, New York and was a gifted amateur wrestler from a young age. He wrestled for the United States Navy and was the 1946 AAU champion, and competed for the University of Nebraska in the 1947 and 1948 NCAA tournaments, where he lost a close match to Dick Hutton. DiBiase debuted as a professional wrestler in 1956, making his name known and feared in every territory he worked. He held championships in the American Wrestling Association and in National Wrestling Alliance territories nationwide, including tag champion runs with ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie, Dr. X aka The Destroyer, Fritz Von Erich and Randy Orton’s father ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton. He defeated KIM Il on July 28, 1967 in Los Angeles, California for the World Wrestling Associates World Heavyweight Championship, but lost it a month later to Buddy Austin.
He married lady wrestler Helen Hild and adopted her son Ted, giving the young man his last name. On July 2, 1969 in Lubbock, Texas Mike DiBiase suffered a heart attack in the ring during a match with Man Mountain Mike. Harley Race, also on the card, attempted to give DiBiase CPR in the ring and rode in the ambulance with him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at the age of 45. His legacy however lived on in his adopted son Ted, who went on to become the enormously popular and successful ‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase. Ted’s son Ted DiBiase, Jr also had a successful run as a wrestler. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2006. I’ve only ever heard wonderful things said of him, both by his family and all who worked with him. Bob Geigel particularly was fond of him and equally proud of the man Ted became, and pronounced the name “Dee-Bee-Auss” which I’ve found is the only way I say it now, too.
About the piece: I kept a fairly limited palette with the background and the figure, applied with acrylics and a black paint marker with a 50 mm head. I then brought in an upwardly-angled blast of pastel colors to both create movement and to symbolize how his legacy lifts those who have followed him.