Baltimore’s Wrestling Superfans
Long-time fans of professional wrestling will remember the sport’s golden age—the ’80s—when stars such as Dusty Rhodes, Bruno Sammartino, Ric Flair, Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, and many more entertained cities up and down the East Coast. The non-televised “house shows” were the big money earners in those days, and the Baltimore Civic Center (now the Royal Farms Arena) hosted many of these, along with pay-per-view events such as several installments of the Great American Bash series. The house shows, with their lack of TV cameras and generally looser atmosphere, were a great opportunity for still photographers to get up close and personal with stars big and little.
Joe Kohl was, as usual, right on the front lines of any Baltimore action. In this case, he seemed to be constantly ringside, getting shots of the wrestlers and the fans alike. In fact, the riled-up Baltimore fans spent a lot of time in front of Kohl’s lens—and among Kohl’s many wrestling pictures are several classic shots of the Baltimore “superfans” who became known around the city and beyond.
Dr. X is definitely the most recognizable of the Baltimore superfans. Not to be confused with the Mexican wrestler of the same name, Baltimore’s Dr. X was a mystery masked fan, who attended many shows at the Civic Center in his signature getup—mask and T-shirt emblazoned with the same mask and his moniker.
Like many masked men, Dr. X’s secret identity was eventually revealed—here, an older, unmasked Dr. X reminisces about the old days with WNST host Nestor Aparicio.
A native Baltimorean fan who garnered attention beyond the Civic Center was Georgette Krieger, known as “The Little Old Lady at Ringside”, an elderly fan who always sat front-row and was notorious for heckling the ‘bad guys’ and even rushing the ring on occasion. Georgette traveled up and down the East Coast circuit, becoming a familiar face in New York and DC as well as Baltimore. Her antics won her several on-stage appearances; she was brought up on air to meet fellow Frenchman Andre the Giant, and the Civic Center hosted a “Mrs. Krieger Day” on which the elderly woman received a plaque and a kiss on the cheek from champ Bob Backlund.
One last Baltimore fan was known not by name or official nickname, but only by his actions—a crowd regular who made his mark by dancing in the aisles and waving pom-poms. Legend tells of another man who did a similar routine with a rubber chicken, but the Pom-Pom Man danced his way into several of Kohl’s ringside photographs. (Lane Walbert)
Lane Walbert is a senior at Towson University, studying photography, film, and history. She appreciates the rare chance to geek out about professional wrestling and analog photography at the same time.
Sources and Further Reading