GLASSBORO — Christopher “King Kong Bundy” Pallies, the gigantic Atlantic City native who wrestled the likes of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, died Monday. He was 61.
Born in Atlantic City in 1957, Pallies excelled at traditional wrestling in New Jersey before joining the high-flying theatrics of what is now WWE, winning a regional title at Washington Township High School in 1972 and going on to compete at Gloucester County College, according to Courier-Post reports from the time.
Pallies trained at the Monster Factory in Paulsboro, Gloucester County, before starting his professional career with the World Wrestling Federation in 1981 as “Chris Canyon.” With the WWF, he made his name as a villain, or heel, in the ring. His signature move, the Avalanche, involved pushing his opponent into a corner and running his 458-pound mass into them. Often, he’d ask referees to count to five seconds, instead of the normal three, when he had an opponent pinned, just to show he could.
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Pallies, who held many pseudonyms in his career, was perhaps best known for facing Hulk Hogan in 1986 in a steel cage match at WrestleMania 2, which Hogan won. He showed his acting chops in a number of roles, including on the sitcom “Married with Children.”
In a blog post confirming his death, the WWE said Pallies, because of his sizable frame, “was appropriately called ‘the walking condominium.’”
Years before David Herro met Pallies in 1997 and become a promoter and friend of his, he knew the performer only as a terrifying presence on his television screen as a kid. He remembers Pallies “completely annihilating” Hogan, and sending him to a nearby hospital as a result (or so the story went).
“I mean, it was terrifying, because I was a Hulk Hogan fan,” said Herro.
Hogan tweeted a response to Pallies’ death Tuesday morning.
“Overwhelmed by King Kong Bundy’s passing, only great memories,” Hogan wrote. “R.I.P. big man until we meet again.”
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Herro recounted the difference between Pallies’ on-stage and off-stage demeanors.
“For being one of the biggest bad guys in the history of pro wrestling, he did appreciate his fans. He always had fun with them,” he said. “He’d joke and mess around and always with a big smile. He was never the monster heel with the fans.”
Leonard Inzitari, who wrestled Pallies and others as “Mario Mancini” in the WWF from 1984 to 1992, remembered him, like many others, as incredibly warm backstage.
“He was just a really funny guy. He was a really sweet guy,” Inzitari said. “He wanted to be tough, but he just wasn’t. ... He was a consummate professional. He was all about the business.”
Pallies slowly backed out of wrestling near the end of the last decade, Herro said, after years of appearances on independent shows.
“He hated the travel. I mean, he’s a 400-pound man. When you go on an airplane, they’re not built for guys of our size,” said Herro, who is 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds. “For him, sometimes he would need a first-class ticket or whatnot. It was just a hassle.”
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Inzitari said he heard from another wrestler at the time that Pallies was suffering from gout around the time he stopped wrestling — and that he tried his hand at stand-up comedy with the subsequent free time.
Pallies also joined a 2016 class-action lawsuit against the WWE, alleging the company failed to protect wrestlers against head trauma and associated mental illness.
The suit was dismissed last year. He was set to make an appearance at Wrestling Con in New York in April.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.