Buddy Roberts

Class of 2008








Member of  the Hall of Heroes Class of 2008





Inducting Buddy Roberts into the Class of 2008:


Michael P.S. Hayes and Jimmy Garvin gathered at the podium to induct Buddy Roberts, whom they called the essential link in their Fabulous Freebirds tag team, a three-man pairing that Cruise said brought rock-and-roll to wrestling before Hulk Hogan and songstress Cyndi Lauper.

"There is no doubt whatsoever the most valuable player of the Fabulous Freebirds was Buddy Jack Roberts," declared Hayes, now a producer with the WWE. Roberts, who has successfully battled throat cancer, quietly proclaimed, "It's like a family reunion for me."


- Steve Johnson

Excerpt from "Legends Abound at Charlotte Fanfest"

Canoe SLAM! Wrestling



When you run down the list of great tag team wrestlers, be sure to include Buddy Roberts. Sure, most fans today remember him as one of the original Freebirds, the charismatic trio that played to packed houses from coast to coast. But Roberts earlier was one-half of the Hollywood Blonds with Jerry Roberts for seven years, starring in Florida, Mid-Atlantic,  California, Oklahoma and Quebec. “I was lucky enough to hook up with those guys right in the main events right from the get-go,” said Sir Oliver Humperdink, who took over management of the team in 1973. “It was really exciting and a great time in my life. I really enjoyed it with those guys.”

For Roberts, born Dale Hey and raised in Vancouver, B.C., it was just one of several wrestling identities. He got involved in the sport in the mid-1960s with the help of close friend Ivan Koloff, who got him going in the Stampede promotion in Canada. When he worked for the Rougeau Brothers in Montreal, he was Dale Roberts. He did a turn in Texas for a couple years as Dale Valentine, the worked brother of Johnny. “There’s only one Johnny Valentine and they threw away the mould when they made him. It was my pleasure to be with him,” Roberts said. In his most famous gig, he was a Freebird from about 1980 to 1987. “It seems like every 10 years I have to switch a personality,” he exclaimed. From a wrestling standpoint, though, he was a perfect counterpoint to outlandish youngsters Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy.

“When I spotted Gordy, I wanted Gordy and I didn’t really want Michael. But you couldn’t get Gordy without Michael. Michael wanted to work in the ring, but he was the shits in the ring, so I ended up putting Buddy Roberts with them,” said “Cowboy” Bill Watts, who helped get the ‘Birds rolling in his Mid-South promotion. “Gordy could carry it. But when you had him in there with Buddy Roberts with Michael managing, you had instantaneous chemistry.” Roberts, as the senior member of the team, was oblivious to its possibilities when he first talked with Watts. “I didn’t even know the song [Freebird]. And he said that he thinks that my experience in the business and the wrestling world, especially in tag teams since I basically excelled in tag teams since I’d been in the business, that I could train them.” History will judge that Watts chose well. Among other things, the Freebirds’ feud with the Von Erich family ignited a boom period for Texas wrestling in the 1980s. “Texas was running with too many Von Erichs for a normal wrestler to handle. When we came in, there was three of us, and now it changed. Now there was some real competition to the Von Erichs, and that’s why the Texans hated us. They didn’t like their local heroes being beat up, but that’s the way it goes,” Roberts recalled.

By 1989, Roberts didn’t like the way wrestling was headed, with just two major companies and decided to call it quits. “I could see it was turning into a monopoly from – well, New York and WCW, it was turning out to be where if you wanted to make a living as a wrestler you had to go to one of those two promotions. In other words, you didn’t have too much of a choice, as compared to when I started.” In recent years, he’s battled serious throat cancer, only to beat it down the way he battered opponents. Now living in Illinois, he’ll add tag team excellence to the Hall of Heroes.

- Steve Johnson


Buddy Roberts photo wearing Mid-Atlantic tag team title belt by Peggy Lathan. Other photos by David Layne and Blake Arledge

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