10 tournaments that stood out

Pro Wrestling Illustrated/UWF Challenge Cup Tournament

The popular sports-entertainment monthly magazine Pro Wrestling Illustrated, long admired for its propensity for asking the tough questions, had a burning inquiry in 1986: Who was the toughest man in the Universal Wrestling Federation — the Oklahoma-based organization famous for having a roster replete with thick-wristed fighters? To PWI, it was at least a $50,000 question.

UWF management shared PWI’s curiosity and, with the magazine’s sponsorship, agreed to host a 16-man tournament. From Oct. 31 to Dec. 12, 1986, a packed field including the likes of Sting, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and “The Fabulous Freebirds” was winnowed down to two individuals: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams and UWF Heavyweight Champion One Man Gang, whose title reign was barely a month old. In a shocker, Williams upended the territory’s top titleholder in Houston to claim the $50,000 purse. Many PWI subscribers fondly recall a special magazine cover featuring tournament participants wrestling over the trophy.

A young Sting takes on "Dr. Death" | One Man Gang trounces Jeff Gaylord