By Marty Gordon
After a professional wrestling career that spanned 20 years, this past week, Christiansburg’s Frank Parker was named to the Southern Wrestling Association’s Hall of Fame.
Parker became a fan of professional wrestling growing up in Southwest Virginia. He watched it on television and attended several live events at the Roanoke Civic Center. Once he was at an event in Roanoke where his favorite wrestlers, the Road Warriors, were performing. Parker was only seven years old and had bought a color photo of Hawk, a member of the Road Warriors.
He was determined to gain his autograph and worked his way through the crowd. Most of the grownups ignored him as he moved closer and closer to his hero.
“All of sudden, I ran into a big solid black wall, stopping in my tracks. I fell to the ground and looked up to see Hawk asking me if I was okay,” Parker said.
He had run head-on into the professional wrestler. He didn’t gain Hawk’s autograph, but he remembers the incident to this day.
Parker was a football player at Christiansburg High School until an injury knocked him off the rail of his dream of playing college football.
“I really wanted to play college football, but it didn’t work out,” he said.
Parker was working at a Christiansburg car wash when professional wrestler Jimmy Valiant stopped by. The chance meeting was something that changed his life and led him down the new path of professional wrestling.
Valiant was another wrestler whom Parker had watched from afar and never thought he would meet.
Parker learned that Valiant, who had just retired from the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling, was looking for a home in the New River Valley to open a wrestling camp to train youngsters.
Parker would be Valiant’s first student at that camp, which is still located in Alleghany Springs, outside of Elliston.
“I was skeptical at the age of 22, but Jimmy (Valiant) took me under his wing and taught me how to perform,” he said.
The Christiansburg native became a sponge, absorbing as much knowledge as he could. From then on, Parker went on the road with Valiant and wrestled independent matches five to six times a week.
His first match was in Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1993. After five years, he broke away from Valiant to start his own independent travels.
“I was living the dream,” he said.
In 1997, Parker formed a tag team with Roger Anderson, who was also from Christiansburg. The two wrestled matches under masks and black outfits and were known as “Death and Destruction.”
They were wrestling on the west coast one day when they met World Wrestling Federation promoter Jim Cornette. Cornette learned the wrestlers were from the Roanoke area where WWF (now WWE) was starting to hold live events.
The promoter invited them to attend and wrestle as a tag team against unknown individuals. The night of the event Parker and Anderson still didn’t know whom they would face until Cornette told them it would be the Road Warriors, which included Road Warrior Hawk, whom Parker had once idolized.
Parker got in a punch to start the match, but then was destroyed by the Road Warriors.
Since then, he has wrestled full-time all over the country. In 2020, at the age of 52, he stepped away from the squared ring.
This past week, Parker was named to the Southern States Wrestling Hall of Fame, an organization that kept him busy traveling all over the United States.
During those 20-odd years, he suffered four concussions and had the tip of an ear torn off after a shot from a metal chair shot. Thirty stitches later and after having the ear reattached, he was back in the ring.
In addition, he has broken his wrist, his ankle, and some fingers. He also tore his pectoral muscle, and now he can’t turn his neck to the left because of those injuries.
“It was tough professionally, and I loved doing it, a dream come true,” he said during an interview this past week.
When asked if he will ever return to the ring in the near future, Parker said he would never say never. But for the most part, he is satisfied with what he has been able to accomplish.
Still, he never did get Road Warrior’s autograph. Maybe the only regret he still has.
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