I just received word that a guy named Joe Scarpa died. Joe Scarpa I never knew. But I did know who Joe Scarpa was.
Joe Scarpa played the role of professional wrestler Chief Jay Strongbow, a full-blooded Native American from Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Strongbow was one of the top “babyfaces” (good guys) in what was then the World Wide Wrestling Federation, and he won a couple of tag team titles. Strongbow also had some nasty feuds with Olympic strongman Ken Patera, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Spiros Arion.
He spent nearly 50 years as a professional wrestler; he would later work behind the scenes at the then-World Wrestling Federation as a road agent and talent scout.
But it was his big-time come-from-behind victories, victories in which he would dance around the ring in a stereotypical “rain dance” style, give his opponent a couple of knee lifts, and then apply the sleeper hold… which very few wrestlers ever broke out of. And when you’re a kid and you’re watching pro wrestling on WRGB and everything looks fake… sorta… but you’re willing to suspend your disbelief if it means having Chief Jay Strongbow beat the rubber bands out of Captain Lou Albano, then so be it.
Rest in peace, Chief Jay Strongbow. Thanks for all the memories. And … you know what? Here’s some YouTube memories of the legend in action.
Chief Jay Strongbow v. Professor Toru Tanaka, from 1973.
Chief Jay Strongbow v. “Mr. 1derful” Paul Orndorff, from 1974.
Chief Jay Strongbow v. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, from 1979 in an Indian Strap Match.
Chief Jay Strongbow v. Ray “The Crippler Stevens” w/ Freddie Blassie, from 1982.
Chief Jay Strongbow in a tag match with Dino Bravo and Tony Garea, v. the Yukon Lumberjacks and Spiros Arion – with guest announcer Joe McHugh.
Chief Jay Strongbow in a tag match with High Chief Peter Maivia (the Rock’s grandfather) v. Baron Mikel Scicluna and Moose Monroe.
Chief Jay Strongbow v. the “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd.