George and Jean Scott relax in their living room in their Harbor Drive home. That’s Princess on Jean’s lap.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Many wrestling fans from the ’50s and ’60s will remember George Scott. “The Great Scott” was his moniker and he took on all comers as a professional wrestler. He’s 84 now, retired and lives in Indian Rocks Beach. A town that he says he loves.
“This is a nice place with relatively no crime,” he said. “I love it here.”
Memories fade over time but there is one event in his wrestling career that Scott will remember forever. And it happened in Tampa.
“I got kicked in the back during a match with Buddy Rogers,” he said. “I was out of wrestling for more than 6 months.”
It turned out the kick ruptured three discs in his back and he was paralyzed for a time because of it.
Scott never wrestled “Nature Boy” Rogers again but the two became fast friends in the business.
“He was a real nice guy and we became friends,” said Scott. “He died in 1992 and I went to his funeral. He was 71 when he passed away.”
Scott and his younger brother Sandy won several tag team titles in the ’60s. They fought as the Flying Scotts. Eventually they had a falling out and became estranged. Sandy died in 2010.
There were missed opportunities during his career, which Scott doesn’t mind talking about. Sitting at his dining room table with his wife Jean, Scott admitted to turning his back on Canada’s most famous wrestler back in the day.
Whipper Billy Watson was an iconic wrestler who gained fame and fortune working out of Toronto. His legacy as a community activist is well known and his fame in the ring even better known. George Scott could have had part of that action.
“He asked me to be his tag team partner, but I turned him down,” said Scott.
“His ego got in the way,” said wife Jean, laughing. “He felt he was too good for Whipper Billy Watson.”
In fact history records the fact that Scott was a very popular wrestler at the time, and Watson was still early in his career. In retrospect however Scott admits he would have done things differently regarding the offer from Watson.
As a professional wrestler Scott suffered a number of serious injuries. There was an assortment of sprains and strains and three or four concussions. But the worst injury, which prompted his retirement, happened in 1971. His neck was broken in a match and he can’t remember the details.
“I know I had a broken neck but I don’t remember much else; it happened during the match during the regular course of events.”
After his retirement from the ring Scott went into the promotion side of the business and successfully promoted bouts in Texas and elsewhere. In the mid-1980s he got involved with Vince McMahon Sr. and helped put together WrestleMania I and WrestleMania II. The events which were successful made others wealthy.
But not George Scott.
He feuded with another successful wrestler over how the events should be staged. Scott wanted a more traditional presentation; the other wrestler wanted to present a different format. Scott retired over the incident, citing overwork as the reason.
Born in Scotland and raised in Hamilton. Ontario, Scott met his wife Jean in Atlanta. She remembers his persistence.
“He was in Atlanta promoting wrestling and I interviewed him for a radio show I was doing,” she said. “After that he kept asking me out. Finally six weeks later I went out with him. We were married in 1986.”
The Scotts then moved to Indian Rocks Beach, and Jean immediately fell in love with the community.
“I call it my village, my Mayberry,” she said. “Everybody knows everybody and everybody helps everybody out.”
She served as a commissioner for seven years in the late 1990s.
As for her husband’s career, Jean said she didn’t know him when he wrestled, but knows it was a good career.
“It was good for him, he loved it,” she said. “He loved wrestling, he loved it until they started to make it what it is today. I think they are finding out as well as with the football players that concussions are serious. It takes its toll, there is a lot of wear and tear on your body.”
Among the achievements in his career was an effort by Scott to control drug use in wrestling. He was instrumental in instituting the drug-testing program in the sport.
He admits the use of drugs, steroids and the like, was rampant but he never used them.
“I wouldn’t take them,” he said. “That’s why I’m still alive today. So many of my friends have all died younger than they should have.”
“He won’t even take an Advil,” joked wife Jean.
Now at 84 and suffering from plenty of aches and pains as a result of wrestling, Scott looks back on his career with no regrets.
“I would do it again, sure I would,” he said. “When I was 16 I could push over 200 pounds over my head, I loved it, I loved it.”