Russ Francis, b. 1953 in Seattle, son of a wrestling promoter, made his name first in football, playing for the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers. After retiring from football in the late 1980s he wrestled briefly with the American Wrestling Association and then with the National Wrestling Alliance in Hawaii, where he had grown up.
Francis embodied the masculine ideal of my generation, rugged good looks that shared equal parts Marlboro Man, Burt Reynolds, and Rock Pamplin (yeah, you're pretty much going to have to be a "certain age" and a certain "sexual orientation" to catch my references here).
He probably got into wrestling too late in the game, cashing in on his fame as a tight end but never quite showing the flair, polish, or showmanship pro wrestling fans were coming to expect.
Based on his football rep and good looks, he nevertheless generated a good bit of pop in the ring. At six-foot-six and 242 pounds, he was the sort of towering, meaty all-American stud I was gaga for back in the 1970s (still but less gaga for now).
Recently I was searching for pictures and video that would illustrate the man's appeal back in the day. I did not come up with much, just some trading cards and silent 8mm footage of Francis in the ring (below). Maybe they're not enough to go on if Russ is new to you, but for me they unlocked some memories and forms of lust I had retired decades ago.
All the following YouTube videos come to us courtesy of MJO2Pro:
Francis vs Scott Irwin
Francis vs Black Jack Lanza
Francis vs Bob Backlund
Francis vs Mr Saito