The Biography of George “The Animal” Steele
Burt Ruby, the wrestling promoter in Michigan during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, was the mentor of George The Animal Steele. Burt was the mentor of many super stars including The Sheik, Killer Kowalski, Bobo Brazil, Abdula The Butcher, Leaping Larry Chene, Ricky The Crusher Cortez and Igor.
George started his wrestling career in 1962 wearing a mask and wrestling as The Student. The Student started his career being managed by Gary Hart. Overnight, The Student became a main event star in Burt’s local promotions. As The Student, (George) had the opportunity to learn his trade while wrestling with many of the top talents of the time, under the watchful eye of Burt Ruby. The Sheik came back to the Detroit area to wrestle in 1965. This gave The Student a chance to watch and learn from one of the greatest wild brawling super stars of all time.
Bruno Sammartino, the WWF champion, and his entourage came to Detroit’s Cobo Arena for a big match with Bulldog Brower. The Student was spotted by Bruno’s entourage that night in Cobo Hall and was shortly invited to wrestle in Pittsburgh. They did not want a masked man in Pittsburgh so The Student became George Steele. George was in a couple of tag matches with the great Dr. Bill Miller. Steele and Miller tagged up against Bruno Sammartino and the Batman in main events. Soon it was George Steele vs. Bruno Sammartino for the WWF title. The Pittsburgh Civic Arena was rocking with packed crowds that just could not get enough of the wild brawls that Steele and Bruno were having.
The word traveled fast and it was not long before George invaded the WWF with vengeance. George battled Bruno for the WWF title in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Providence, Springfield, Portland, Pittsburgh and many other cities in the great Northeast. George kept going back to battle Bruno for his title just about every summer. When Bruno dropped the title and Pedro Morales became the WWF champion George was there challenging Pedro. Next it was Bobby Backland, and George Steele was there. Yes, later it was even the great Hulk Hogan and George was waiting in the wings.
Over this twenty year span George not only went at it by himself, but at different times was managed by some of the best in the business. The Grand Wizard, Captain Lou, Classy Freddy Blassie, and even the evil Mr. Fugi spent summers in George’s corner. As Vince McMahon Jr. replaced his father as the owner of the WWF and the wrestling business started to change George was right there in the middle of the change.
When Freddy Blassie turned his foreign villains, Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik, on George Steele things changed. Caption Lou Albano came to George’s aid and George instantly became a lovable wild brawling good guy. This change recreated George The Animal Steele and launched his career to a new level. George has been in many commercials and even had a starring role in the movie, Ed Wood, which won two Oscars.
George was still on top of WWF and had a very memorable and long run with The Macho Man Randy Savage. This run was built around the fact that George was smitten over Elizabeth. This feud launched Randy to Super Star Status and George Steele into the WWE Hall of Fame.
In 1989 George was taken down by Crohn’s disease. The real fight was on. There is not suppose to be a cure for Crohn’s but George no longer suffers from the horrible disease.
George Steele worked behind the scene with the WWF for nine years. In 1997 George made an unbelievable return to the WWF as he joined forces with the Oddities. George was considered the Oddest of the Oddities. George enjoyed kicking around the independent circuit for a short time. The independent circuit gave George a real feel for the youngsters trying to live their dream in wrestling.
Most of George Steele’s career was done part-time. He also taught and coached Football and Wrestling at Madison High school in Madison Heights, Michigan, as Jim Myers. George The Animal Steele is now retired from wrestling although he still does a few autograph signings and will show up at many charity events.