Beltzhoover Native One of Few Black Studio Wrestlers of His Era Sept. 21, 1933 - Dec. 27, 2018

By Smeltz, Adam | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), December 30, 2018 | Go to article overview

Beltzhoover Native One of Few Black Studio Wrestlers of His Era Sept. 21, 1933 - Dec. 27, 2018


Smeltz, Adam, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Pittsburgh knew Bobby "Hurricane" Hunt for his prowess in the ring, where he planted both feet on his adversaries in a trademark move - the drop kick.

His speed and power mirrored his blustery sobriquet, a household nickname for fans of Western Pennsylvania studio wrestling from the 1960s into the early '70s.

But away from television cameras and sporting venues, "Hurricane" often was glad when people didn't notice the celebrity professional wrestler in their midst, one of his sons said.

"A lot of times, when we were out somewhere, he would hope people wouldn't recognize him," said Brian Hunt, 60, of the South Side Slopes. "He was a very prideful man, but I think he was more modest than prideful."

Robert H. Hunt, 85, of Beltzhoover, who died Thursday at St. Clair Hospital, didn't want a big to-do upon his passing. He was a son of the Great Depression, born Sept. 21, 1933, in the same neighborhood.

Raised by his mother and four older sisters after their father died, he went to grade school in Beltzhoover and middle school in Knoxville before entering South Hills High School, according to his family. He displayed his athleticism there, taking up football, basketball and track, Brian Hunt said. He won Pittsburgh's pole vault title in 1950 and 1951 - along with the state pole vault championship - and held the city record until 1972.

By 1952, he left school for the Army and became a parachute rigger and a parachute rigging instructor at Fort Benning, Ga., the family said. He eventually joined the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., during his three years in the service.

"He wanted to serve his country, but he also needed to provide for his mom and his sisters back home in Pittsburgh," said son John Hunt, 50, of Bon Air.

Mr. Hunt worked in a scrapyard and then a steel mill after returning to Western Pennsylvania, where he met Gloria Powell. They wed in August 1957 and were married 61 years, living almost that entire time in Beltzhoover. She survives at home.

Mr. Hunt's celebrity didn't materialize until the early '60s. Brian Hunt said he got into wrestling on a friend's recommendation and attended wrestling school. John Hunt believes a promoter for studio wrestling met him in a local YMCA and welcomed him into the fold.

Once he started, he was among few black wrestlers of that era, John Hunt said. Organizers wanted to give his father an ethnic background and name in the ring. …

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