Wrestling legend and WWF Hall of Famer Chief Jay Strongbow passed away on the morning of Tuesday, April 3, 2012. He was 83 years of age.
Born Joseph Luke Scarpa out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Strongbow portrayed a Native American wrestler billed from Pawhuska, Oklahoma who wore a headdress to the ring and went “on the warpath” encouraged by the crowd’s cheers.He is acknowledged as an inspiration to many both in and out of the squared circle, including WWF great Tatanka, who inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 1994, as well as Bret “the Hitman” Hart, who wrote the following yesterday on twitter:
Chief Jay Strongbow helped me as much, if not more, than anyone else in my career. It truly saddens me 2 see the wrestling world lose 1 of its great contributors. He was the star of most of my locker room drawings… …but he will always be Chief to all the boys who knew him. A big loss!
Chief Jay Strongbow had a career spanning 36 years inside the squared circle, most of those years spent in the Georgia and Florida territories of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) wrestling under his birth name Joe Scarpa. He wrestled as Chief Jay Strongbow in Vincent J. McMahon’s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) in much of the 1970’s as well as The Shiek’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in 1977, participating in a “shark cage match” with “Bulldog” Don Kent. In 1979, Strongbow made his way to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), competing there until 1983 against such greats as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito and the Wild Samoans. He was in a tag team with his storyline “brother” Jules Strongbow, capturing WWF tag team gold twice.
Strongbow’s finishing moves were the Tomahawk Chop (an overhead chop) and the famed Indian Deathlock. He has won championship gold numerous times in his illustrious career, including the NWA Brass Knuckles Championship out of Florida (twice), the NWA Heavyweight Championships in Florida, Georgia and the Gulf Coast, the World Wrestling Council (WWC) Caribbean Heavyweight Championship, and numerous world tag team titles while paired with such greats as Don Curtis, Jose Lothario, Sonny King, Billy White Wolf and Jules Strongbow.
After retiring in 1985, Strongbow continued to work for the WWF as a road agent and was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1994. Strongbow was also inducted in the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum in 2009. Pro Wrestling Illustrated recognized Strongbow as the PWI Most Popular Wrestler of the Year (1973),the PWI Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year (1979) and ranked him # 214 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the “PWI Years” in 2003.
Thank you, Chief Jay Strongbow, for all your contributions and trailblazing feats in this sport that we enjoy today. May you finally rest in peace.