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The Too Real Story of How Fake Wrestling Figured Into the Kennedy Assassination Investigation

Some documents in the Kennedy assassination trove read as bombshells; others just bomb.

“A wrestling promoter in San Francisco area,” explains one released Kennedy assassination document, “advised, instant, December twenty, that on September fourteen, last, Ray Stevens wrestled Don DeNucci at the Cow Palace.”

It all makes sense now. Cow Palace…cows…cow pastures…pastures…grass…grassy knolls!

Stevens, who wore the NWA’s tag team belts on three occasions during his San Francisco years, wrestled from 1950 to 1992. DeNucci, just starting out when he took on Stevens, won titles in the AWA, NWA, and WWWF and helped train such a diverse set of ring legends as Mick Foley, Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack. Neither man, presumably, aided or abetted Lee Harvey Oswald.

“On October 12, last,” the memorandum continues, “Stevens wrestled Carl Gotch at Carl Palace.”

The memo, devoid of context or seeming connection to the assassination, reads as one of many headscratchers in the document dump. Its author, labeling the two pages headed “Wilson, Lloyd John” as “urgent,” obviously thought more of the information than posterity does.

Except, when you connect the dots or arrange the flow chart, as every good conspiracy theorist knows, the senseless begins to make sense.

Deadspin connected the decontextualized document with an earlier Warren Commission file, which helps explain the FBI’s interest in professional wrestling. It turns that Lloyd John Wilson was a local racist and all-around crackpot depicting Harvey Oswald as his gun for hire. He claimed that he met the Texan at a wrestling card at the Cow Palace, that they discussed assassinating the president, and Wilson provided $1,000 for the hit. Deadspin speculates that wrestler-turned-promoter Roy Shire served as the confidential informant (CI) feeding the FBI information, though the document makes clear that Shire, or the CI, labeled the fan-fantasist as “not known to him.”

Wilson surely showed his face around arenas. But nobody ever recalled seeing Lee Harvey Oswald (though other Communists—Nikolai Volkoff, Ivan Koloff, and Boris Zukhoff to name three—appeared often). Lloyd John Wilson, like so many three-named individuals, told a tale that did not add up.

No doubt, it was still real to him, dammit. But the FBI judged the troubled man’s story, to say nothing of his passion involving gladiators in underwear, fake.

Daniel J. Flynn

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