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ABOUT JUNKYARD DOG
Throughout the years, many men have made the transition from the football gridiron to the squared circle. Perhaps none, however, have ever done it with the panache of one Sylvester Ritter, a man better known to sports-entertainment fans as the Junkyard Dog.
Before entering the ring, the near 300-pound Ritter was a standout college football player, twice earning Honorable Mention All-American honors at Fayetteville (NC) State University. He was even drafted by the Green Bay Packers, but decided on a career in sports-entertainment in the mid-1970s.
JYD made his debut in Tennessee in 1977 and also worked for Stu Hart’s famed Stampede Wrestling promotion in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Ritter used several different ring names early in his career, but he would truly become an icon after moving to the Mid-South Wrestling territory in the early 1980s.
It was in Mid-South where promoter Bill Watts christened Ritter as the Junkyard Dog. JYD began coming to the ring with his signature dog collar and chains, and was perhaps the most popular Superstar in the territory in no time. Despite his massive frame, JYD was abnormally quick on his feet and extremely durable, often seeming impervious to pain, and he connected with the fans almost instantly. His rivalries with Ted DiBiase, The Fabulous Freebirds and Butch Reed — among others — were some of Mid-South’s most legendary, and along the way he amassed numerous reigns as Mid-South North American Champion and Mid-South Tag Team Champion.
Late in 1984, JYD came to WWE, and once again, he became an instant hit with the fans. The sight of JYD — clad in his collar and chains, striding to the ring to the strains of his unforgettable entrance theme, “Grab Them Cakes” — was one that our fans loved but his opponents dreaded. He was well-known for his finishing maneuver, a powerslam he called “Thump” — one so monumental that he wore the word “Thump” across the back of his wrestling trunks — as well as his vicious head butts.