Former professional wrestler Bill Dromo passed away today at the age of 75. Dromo, an inductee of the Georgia Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2007, had suffered from various medical issues in recent years, including Parkinsonâ€™s Disease.
Dromo began wrestling in the amateur ranks in his late teens, after a few years as an amateur boxer. He was taken under the wing of Dave Piper, and would go on to win all but two of his twenty three matches, culminating in winning a silver medal at the British Empire games in Manitoba. His only losses came against another famous professional wrestler, Gordon Nelson. â€œHe was the only one who ever beat me as an amateur,â€ said Dromo in an interview Iconducted with him in 2003. â€œHe left back in the 1950s and went to England. He stayed there for a while, but then I met him again when he came to Florida while I was down there. It was just like old times. He told me I had made an impression on him.â€
Billâ€™s professional debut came against Mitsu Arakawa, whom he admitted, â€œbeat the crap out of me.â€ He spent his early years sharing a residence with Tex McKenzie. After a period of getting used to the business in the upper Midwest, Bill went to work for Jim Barnett in Indianapolis. Dromo said, â€œI worked there for Jim for a few months. He respected you, and treated you good. He sent me down here to Atlanta. I also went to Australia for him. He wanted me down there for six weeks and I stayed for about three months.â€
Once he went to Atlanta, Dromo had found a permanent home, where he resided with his wife, Karen, also a former professional wrestler. Of Georgia, Dromo said, â€œI settled here. I met my wife in the dentistâ€™s chair having my teeth fixed. Dick Steinborn â€“ one afternoon we were getting paid. He knew my teeth were giving me some problems so he took me with him down Peachtree Street and into a dentist office. She was standing at the door â€“ my wife. I asked Dick who she was, and he said she was the assistant. That was the first time I ever met her.â€ They were indeed married and lived together in Georgia until his death.
Bill continued to work regularly throughout Georgia for the remainder of his career, and his most success came while working for Fred Ward as opposed to the Atlanta office. â€œFred always treated me right,â€ said Dromo. â€œHe always treated me the way he wanted to be treated. A lot of the guys wouldnâ€™t go along with him, but for some strange reason he took a liking to me. I was the guy he booked the longest.â€
He briefly changed his name to work for Vincent McMahon. Going by Bill Zbyszko, he ran into a minor obstacle. Dromo told me, â€œStanislaus Zbyszko called up from St. Louis and told them he didnâ€™t want me using that name. Vince McMahon told him thereâ€™s more than one Zbyszko in the world. Then he told me to not worry about it.â€
He also spent some time working for Stu Hart in Calgary, which were used mostly as a way to visit home. However, it was Florida which became his other home beyond Canada and Georgia.
By the 1970s, Bill centered himself mostly in Georgia and Florida, staying close to family and friends. Bob Armstrong was one of them, and became Billâ€™s most oft used tag team partner. They had a great run in Georgia with the Assassins, as well as the team of Sputnik and Rocket Monroe. He also found himself in brief programs in Georgia with Bobby Duncum, the Zodiac (Bob Orton, Sr.), and the Mongolian Stomper.
Billâ€™s career wound down in the early 1980s, and he stayed busy running his own restaurant and working in the security field until he retired altogether. He did, however, still make occasional rounds at various local wrestling events in his neck of the woods, often greeted by a nice ovation when he was acknowledged as being in attendance.
Having known Bill for about ten years, this one hurts personally. He was always available with kind words even when it was obvious his health was getting the better of him. He will indeed be missed by many.
We pass along our deepest condolences to his family and friends.