Arnold Skaaland passes away

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March 14, 2007

"Golden Boy" Arnold Skaaland, a WWE Hall of Famer and a member of the WWE family for over a half-century, passed away Tuesday at the age of 82, with his wife, Betty, by his side.

Arnie was involved in virtually every aspect of sports-entertainment, from grappling to managing to promoting. During the era of the World Wide Wrestling Federation, Skaaland was a stockholder of Capitol Wrestling Corporation, and a producer of live events at the Westchester County Center.

As a wrestler, Skaaland was fearless, taking on much larger men and always giving them a fight. In 1967, he and Spiros Arion won the now-defunct WWE United States Tag Team Championship. He also served as the referee for the famous 1962 match in Japan between "Classy" Freddie Blassie and Rikidozan.

Another generation of fans may remember Skaaland as a manager. He regularly accompanied Bruno Sammartino to the ring during his reigns as WWWF Champion, and later led Bob Backlund to the same title. Perhaps Skaaland's most controversial moment occurred while managing Backlund; on Dec. 23, 1983, he threw in the towel for Backlund after the Iron Sheik trapped the titlist in the camel clutch -- ending the clean-living kingpin's long reign as WWE Champion.

Skaaland was a legend in all facets of sports-entertainment, and in 1994, he became a member of the first full class inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

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