Thursday, 09 August 2018 05:13

Learning from Life: Thomas Randolph Curtis

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Randy Curtis, New Orleans, 1969  Randy Curtis, New Orleans, 1969  Photo courtesy of Tom Curtis

ROCKINGHAM - Wahoo McDaniel, Swede Hanson, Rip Hawk, Gene and Ole Anderson.  Household names in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and part of the brotherhood of professional wrestlers Tom wrestled or shared the ring with.    Over his adult life Tom would be an airman, soldier, deputy sheriff, professional wrestler and business owner.


Tom was born in 1939 in Vicksburg, Mississippi and following high school graduation in 1957 entered the US Air Force as a personnel specialist.  Tom’s father was a professional wrestler through the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s wrestling under the name Jack Curtis.  Tom would follow his father’s footsteps and begin wrestling part-time in 1961 as “Randy Curtis.”  His mother was fond of telling people, “Tom’s my only son that would look at a mountain and say I wonder what’s on top of that mountain.  And once he got to the top of that mountain, he’d say I wonder what’s inside this mountain.”  That sense of adventure and drive to climb mountains would guide the rest of his life.  

Tom left the Air Force in 1960 after his 3-year enlistment and soon joined the Mississippi National Guard as an infantryman.  In 1962, he attended Officer Candidate School and became an Army officer and trained to be a Psychological Operations officer, 20th Special Forces Group.  As a new Green Beret supporting Robin Sage exercises in Rockingham, Captain Curtis saw a beautiful woman looking in Bill Wallace’s storefront window and told his vehicle driver, “I’m going to marry that woman.”  He walked over and introduced himself and her reaction was cool at best refusing to even give her name.  Being ever resourceful, Tom found out her name and address and went to her home that evening.  They talked until into the early morning hours and agreed to date; he would marry Lynn Odom from Hamlet in 1969.   

 At 5’11” and 216 pounds he competed on a professional wrestling circuit covering most states east of the Mississippi River.  From 1969 to 1973 Tom would wrestle 547 matches professionally under the name “Randy Curtis” and accumulate a record of 202 wins, 105 losses and 240 draws.  He would wrestle for as little as $5 for a match up to $1800 for several matches on a single day.  At one point he blew out his knee and after he healed up, he resumed wrestling until his final match in Louisville, Kentucky.    Tom loved the travel required on the wrestling circuit.  It gave him and his wife a chance to see lots of places, take in the local sights and pursue his love of history.   I had to ask about how choreographed wrestling matches were 40 years ago.  Tom said, “We knew who would win the match but what happened after the bell sounded was completely unscripted.”  He added, it got really crazy sometimes.   Randy Curtis and Lorenzo Parente would earn the National Wrestling Association (Mid America) World Tag team title in September 1973.   

When wrestling was over Tom would rejoin the Army National Guard in 1977 and retire as a Major in 1987.   Along the way, he also worked at Western Auto, Family Dollar store as a district manager, and owned the Block House Antique Store and Indian Relic Museum in Hamlet.  He would open Curtis Military Surplus in 1988 where you can still find him 6 days a week.   Selling military surplus for a man who spent 22 years of his life in the military was a pretty natural fit. 

Tom’s life philosophy is evident in his own journey, “set realistic goals and attack!”   He wasn’t afraid to climb any mountain and learn something new.  Mom was absolutely right about her son.  

If you know someone with an interesting life story, e-mail me and I might write about them as well.  

Ed O’Neal graduated from Richmond Senior High, served in the military for 24 years and is an inventor and business owner.  You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 910 995-1366.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 09 August 2018 08:35