“Jumping” Johnny DeFazio, famed professional wrestler of the yesteryears, is no more. He was 80 years old.
DEFAZIO WAS A FAN FAVOURITE IN PITTSBURGH
He was a fan favorite and was popular in the 1960s and 1970s. He wrestled for the old Studio Wrestling program on WIIC-TV in Pittsburgh, hosted by Bill Cardille. He was a four-time winner of the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s Junior Heavyweight Championship. He also was active in the United Steelworkers of America (he was the union’s director in Pennsylvania) and was an Allegheny County councilman from 1999 until 2019.
“Today we lost a Pittsburgh legend: Johnny De Fazio has passed away at 80 years old. Johnny was a valued public servant in our community – first as a union leader for the US Steelworkers, representing every steel worker in Pennsylvania and eventually as a County Councilman,” senator Jay Costa tweeted.
He added that as a councilman, DeFazio served on the Maglev Board and as coordinator of the Civil Rights Committee in Western Pennsylvania and that over his eight decase long life and career, he touched the lives of many people.
HE STARTED HIS CAREER IN 1962
DeFazio started wrestling in 1962. In the early stage of his career, he wrestled for Spectator Sports, the Pittsburgh territory which was then run by Toots Mondt, who went on to have a considerable hand in the creation of World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). He then wrestled both for WWWF and Spectator Sports, the latter was by then won by the legendary Bruno Sammartino. He became one of Pittsburgh’s greatest babyfaces, with him tagging with the WWWF Champion Sammartino on multiple occasions.
He was not without success. In 1965, he won the WWWF Junior Heavyweight Championship by defeating Paul Degalles. Over the next few years, he remained a representative of the championship, winning it four times between ’65 and ’72. His odd decision to retire during his fourth reign also led to the deactivation of the championship.
He returned to pro wrestling in 1974, but the title was kept inactive until 1978, and soon became a WWWF sanctioned title used primarily in Japan with their then ally, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW).