An article by Mike Mooneyham
First of Two Parts
Published in April 1997
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tully Blanchard was one of pro wrestling’s brightest stars during the ’80s. Fame and fortune had come easy for the former standout college quarterback and member of wrestling’s legendary Four Horsemen. But outside the glare of the spotlight, Blanchard was on a runaway train to destruction. Through what Blanchard calls a miracle, his life got back on track with more meaning and sense of purpose than ever before.
Tully Blanchard thought he had it all.
He lived in a big home with a fleet of fancy cars parked outside. Drugs and women were at his disposal. He was known in every city in the country – in every bar, every airport, every sports arena. He was, after all, one of the Four Horsemen.
“I was known everywhere,” says Blanchard.
Everywhere, he adds, except in the church.
“I never did a lot of those things as a child,” Blanchard, 43, explains. “I had to go play football, I had to throw baseballs, I had to shoot baskets on Sunday morning. I didn’t have to go to church or Sunday school to hear about Jesus Christ and hear about God the Father and hear about the Holy Spirit being able to change your life and giving you the peace that is beyond understanding. I didn’t have that to fall back on.
[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]“I was raised in a non-Christian home. I was raised ignorant of God. I didn’t know who Jesus Christ was. I used to say my prayers – lay me down to sleep -but if you don’t know Jesus Christ, you don’t know God. And that’s the way I lived.”
Blanchard, now an evangelist who rededicated his life on Nov. 13, 1989, says the road to salvation didn’t come without its share of bumps.
Joe Blanchard, a longtime wrestler and promoter in San Antonio, Texas, had always pushed his son to be the best. Tully was the star baseball player, the star football player, the star basketball player.
“I was taught to do all the things that would give Tully Blanchard the glory, that would give notoriety to my family. I can remember back when my dad was training me as a young child to be good at athletics, whether it be baseball, football, basketball. or whatever it was. He said the harder you work, the better you will be. If I wanted to be the best at something, I had to work harder at it. And that’s just exactly the way I did.”
Blanchard was, in fact, good enough to earn a major college football scholarship to Southern Methodist University.
“I wanted to be in Dallas where the media center was so that people could hear about Tully Blanchard throwing touchdown passes and they could hear about Tully Blanchard scoring touchdowns.”
Blanchard, however, dropped out of school in 1973 after the head coach was fired, and transferred to West Texas State of the Missouri Valley Conference the following year. But a serious car accident prior to the season nearly changed his plans again.
“I was a right-handed quarterback, and I damaged my right arm,” says Blanchard. “I was cut from the middle of my chest down through my under arm to the middle of my back. I had been out on a country road with a friend of mine. We’d been outdrinking and smoking pot and chasing around after people and just basically not being very responsible.
“At 19, I thought I was an expert at everything. There I was lying, bleeding to death on the side of the road. At one point I felt myself relaxed to die, felt myself drift away and come back because I didn’t want to miss the party on Friday, I didn’t want to miss the date with the girls, the cheerleaders, my chance at being a star when I went to West Texas State.”
Blanchard recovered, more determined than ever to prove he was inestructible, and started for three seasons at quarterback at West Texas State. He graduated in 1977, achieving everything he had set out to do at the school.
But there wasn’t a big market for some one 5-10 and 200 pounds, so his dream of playing professional football came to an end. Blanchard, who didn’t want a conventional “8 to 5” job, joined his father in the wrestling business. Two of his West Texas State teammates -tight end Merced Solis (Tito Santana) and defensive tackle Ted DiBiase – would also pursue pro wrestling careers.
As the promoter’s son became more comfortable with the business and eventually reached star status, he once again got greedy.
“It became a job. I liked the bigger car sitting outside, the bigger house that I could buy, the bigger apartment I could rent, the more jewelry I could buy. And that was all affordable to me because I got better at professional wrestling. I wanted to be the best in the ring, the best interview, the best promoter, the best ring setter-upper. I wanted to know everything about professional wrestling so I could come back to San Antonio and start a business with my father – and be like Jim Crockett Promotions and Titan Sports … And have everything money could buy.”
The promotional business started to boom, but despite pleas from his father, Blanchard refused to listen.
“It was almost like God was blessing this thing (the business). But I didn’t want to talk to him (my father) about Jesus, I didn’t want to talk to him about God, I didn’t want to hear about this kind of stuff. I kept the door to his office closed, and the door to my office closed, and just kind of went about my business. I ran the wrestling stuff, and he did this other stuff.”