Sylvester Ritter, a.k.a. The Junk Yard Dog, R.I.P.

Ritter began his professional wrestling career at the turn of the 80s, competing with promotions such as the NWA, Fritz Von Erich's World Class Championship Wrestling and Mid-South, snaring dozens of world titles in the process. At that time, Mid-South was a hotbed for up-and-coming talent, and JYD was often pitted against the likes of Ted DiBiase, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Tully Blanchard, the One Man Gang and Butch Reed. On the NWA circuit, he often grappled with the likes of Greg Valentine, Mr. Wrestling II and Bobby Eaton, and also gained a tremendous fan following for his devastating headbutt, which literally knocked opponents cold! In 1984, just prior to entering the Federation, Junkyard competed at the David Von Erich Memorial "Parade of Champions" at Texas Stadium, beating the Missing Link by disqualification.

On the World Wrestling Federation's first-ever Pay-Per-View, the 1985 "Wrestling Classic" tournament, he defeated the Iron Sheik and Moondog Spot before being narrowly eliminated by Randy Savage in the finals. With less than a year in the Federation, the Dog had already become one of the top attractions in the industry, and appeared religiously on subsequent Pay-Per-Views and special events. In 1985,1986 and 1987, Ritter took part in the annual-and then untelevised-King of the Ring tournaments, taking on such superstars as Don Muraco, Paul Orndorff and Nikolai Volkoff. He was also a frequent competitor on NBC's "Saturday Night's Main Event", as he faced such notables as Harley Race, the late Adrian Adonis and current superstar Terry Funk.

Over the course of his Federation career, the Junkyard Dog also took part in the WrestleMania spectaculars, as he beat then-Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine by countout at the first, and teamed with Tito Santana to take on Terry and Dory Funk Jr. at WrestleMania 2. In 1987, Junkyard entered into a bitter feud with "King" Harley Race, and nearly won the cape and crown from his foe at WrestleMania III. Then, at WrestleMania IV, as he joined Bret Hart and Bad News Brown as the remaining trio in a 20-man over the top rope battle royal before being eliminated by his opponents.

Following that Pay-Per-View, JYD engaged in feuds with "Outlaw" Ron Bass and Dino Bravo before stepping away from the Federation to pursue other personal goals, which included a stint in World Championship Wrestling in the early 90s. He also promoted bouts in North Carolina and Louisiana, as well as competed in hundreds of independent wrestling events across the country. Sadly, this superstar's life came to a tragic end this past June 2 as the result of a single vehicle accident en route to his home in North Carolina. JYD was returning from his daughter's graduation in Mississippi when he crashed his car on nearby I-20. He was 45 years old.

Credit For This Article Goes To The World Wrestling Federation Homepage, and is (C) 1998 Titan Sports, Inc.

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