Sputnik Monroe

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Sputnik Monroe
Sputnik Monroe
Birth name Rosco Monroe Merrick
Born (1928-12-18)December 18, 1928
Dodge City, Kansas, U.S.
Died November 3, 2006(2006-11-03) (aged 77)
Florida, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Elvis Rock Monroe
Pretty Boy Roque
Rock Monroe
Sputnik Monroe
Billed weight 235 lb (107 kg)
Billed from Wichita, Kansas
Trained by Jack Nazworthy
Debut 1945
Retired 1988

Roscoe Monroe Brumbaugh (born Rosco Monroe Merrick; December 18, 1928 – November 3, 2006) better known by his ring name Sputnik Monroe, was an American professional wrestler. He was a headliner in many territories, and was best known in Memphis, Tennessee, where he and Billy Wicks set an attendance record that lasted until the Monday Night Wars boom period.[1]

Early life

Monroe was born in Dodge City, Kansas. His father was killed in an airplane crash one month before his birth. His formative years were spent living with his grandparents. Later, his mother remarried, and his stepfather, whose last name was Brumbaugh, adopted him at age 17. As a result, Monroe's legal name became Roscoe Monroe Brumbaugh.

He had a brother, Gary “Jet” Monroe, who was his manager during certain parts of his career.[2]


Debuting as Rock Monroe in 1945, Monroe began his career by wrestling in traveling carnivals. He changed his name to Rocky Monroe in 1949, and adopted the nickname "Sputnik" in 1957.

Monroe was a noteworthy figure in Memphis cultural history. During a period where legal segregation was the norm at public events, and during a general decline in the popularity of professional wrestling, Monroe recognized that the segregated wrestling shows (whites sat in floor seats while blacks were required to sit in the balcony)[3][4] were not properly marketing to black fans. The witty, flamboyant Monroe began dressing up in a purple gown and carrying a diamond tipped cane and drinking in traditionally black bars in the black area of Memphis. As a result of this, he was frequently arrested by police on a variety of trumped up charges, such as mopery. He would then hire a black attorney and appear in court, pay a fine, and immediately resume fraternizing with black citizens and drinking in their bars. Due to this, and in spite of the fact that he was a heel at the time, his popularity soared among the black community. At his shows, although floor seats in arenas would be half empty with white patrons, the balcony would be packed to capacity with black patrons with many others unable to enter due to the balcony selling out.[5]

Monroe, having become the biggest wrestling draw at the time, soon refused to perform unless black patrons were allowed to sit in any seat at the Ellis Auditorium. As a result, his wrestling shows were desegregated and the shows then completely sold out with Monroe's many black fans filling the auditorium. Soon, other southern sporting events, recognizing the enormous financial benefits, began to desegregate as well.[5]

Personal life

Monroe had three children, the youngest of them, Quentin Bell was also a pro wrestler. Monroe trained him.[6][7]

Death and legacy

Monroe died in his sleep on November 3, 2006 in Florida.[1] He was 77 years old. In May 2007, HBO announced that they would make a film based on Monroe's life.[8] In September 2007, Julien Nitzberg confirmed that the first draft of the film's script had been completed.[9]

Championships and accomplishments


  1. ^ a b Brady, Hicks. "2006: The year in wrestling". PWI Presents: 2007 Wrestling Almanak and book of facts. Kappa Publications. p. 27. 2007 Edition. 
  2. ^ "Sputnik Monroe Profile". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2015-10-30. 
  3. ^ Sputnik wrestled against prejudice By Thom Loverro
  4. ^ Sputnk Monroe, RIP
  5. ^ a b "Interview with Jim Cornette". The Steve Austin Podcast. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Gordon, Robert. It Came From Memphis. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001. (pg. 38–39) ISBN 0-7434-1045-9
  7. ^ Mehr, Bob (November 11, 2006). "Sputnik Monroe used his rock-'em-sock-'em star status to muscle the way for desegregated". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Nitzberg Penning Sputnik Biopic"
  9. ^ "Interview with Julien Nitzberg about Sputnik Monroe movie
  10. ^ Meltzer, Dave (2012-11-17). "Sat. update: Great TV show, WWE multiple releases, Austin talks WWE Hall of Fame, Best night for Bellator, PPV predictions, NWA Hall of Fame, James Storm headlines benefit show, Devitt takes another title". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2012-11-17. 
  11. ^ "Memphis Hall of Fame". Wrestling-Titles.com. Puroresu Dojo. 2003. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 

External links

  • The Man Who Defeated Jim Crow in Memphis
  • Article with interview clips from NPR
  • Monroe site at Georgia Wrestling History
  • Commercial Appeal article on Monroe and civil rights issues
  • Sputnik Monroe: One of A Kind
  • Memphis Wrestling History
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