|JOEY ROSSI (ROSITANO)
Joey Rositano, known professionally as Joey Rossi, died on November 28, 2003 after a long battle with lung cancer. He was the son of grappler Len Rossi (who served as his tag team partner on several occasions), a solid community leader and a much beloved member of the wrestling fraternity. Rossi was 51 years old.
We at the Cauliflower Alley Club send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Joey Rossi.
|CANCER CLAIMS 70s GRAPPLER JOEY ROSSI
by Greg Oliver, Slam! Wrestling
Cancer has claimed the life of second-generation '70s wrestler Joey Rossi. He died Saturday at 51 in Nolensville, Tennessee.
The son of Len Rossi, Joey Rositano followed his father's footsteps into wrestling and even teamed with him on occasion. In 1977 in Chattanooga, TN, they teamed for a father-son battle against Angelo and Lanny Poffo. He worked primarily through the American southeast, from Tennessee through the Gulf Coast and into Florida.
The Kayfabe Memories site had this story on the Rossi family by Tim S. Dills: "Len Rossi, one of Gulas' top stars, was injured in an automobile accident in late 1972. His injuries were severe enough to force him to retire from active competition. In the summer of 1973, a recovering Len came to watch his son, Joey, wrestle Sam Bass on Memphis TV. Joey defeats Bass with a sleeper hold. Bass' partners in crime, Jerry Lawler and Jim White, then argue that Joey had illegally choked Bass. Tempers flare leading to Bass, Lawler and White attacking the injured Len and leaving him a beaten man. This lead to a series of matches pitting Lawler and White against Joey Rossi and Len's longtime tag partner, Bearcat Brown. (A similar scenario played out on the eastern half of the territory around the same time featuring Terry Garvin and Duke Myers and manager Jim Garvin attacking Len on television leading to matches pitting Garvin & Myers against Joey and Brown.)"
Bearcat Brown and Joey Rossi held the NWA Mid-America Tag Team Titles on two occasions in 1973, and Rossi held the titles subsequently with Don Greene that same year. Rossi also held the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Titles in 1979 with George Gulas and Ken Lucas.
After wrestling, he owned a used record store in Brentwood, TN, co-owned Len Rossi Health Foods and served as an alderman in Nolensville, serving on the Planning Commission and acting as chairman of the town's drug task force. He had battled lung cancer for some time, and a benefit concert was held for him in May 2003, to raise funds for alternative therapy.
His father, Len Rossi, has been announced as a recipient of the 2004 New York State Award from the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Schenectady, NY.
AGRESSIVE CANCER KILLS NOLANSVILLE LEADER ROSITANO
by Bonnie Burch, The Tennessean
NOLENSVILLE — A former professional wrestler, Joseph ''Rossi'' Rositano was a strong man: dedicated, loyal and not afraid to take risks for what he felt was right, either in the ring or in the arena of small-town politics.
But after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer, the Nolensville alderman died Saturday. He was 51.
''I called him a big, loveable teddy bear because that's what he was. But he could be very vocal if he felt something needed to be done. He really did pay attention and listen to the residents,'' fellow alderman Larry Felts said.
Rositano was elected alderman in 2000 for a two-year term and was re-elected last year to a four-year term.
His work for Nolensville stretched back to the incorporation committee that established town government in 1996. He was also a member of the planning commission since its inception.
Mayor Charles Knapper said Rositano was a frequent visitor to his office. When everyone else was packing up for the evening, Rositano would shut Knapper's door for an evening discussion of the issues facing the town. Knapper described Rositano as a man of great depth with a love of politics and a great knowledge of the Constitution.
''We sometimes agreed and sometimes we didn't,'' Knapper said. ''But I could always count on him to have that conference with me. I depended on it. And I learned a great deal from Joe. He was there to keep me straight and to bring me back down to earth.''
Alderman Gail Phillips said Rositano was a rare person who would call just to say how much he appreciated her.
''He was kind of quiet, kind of laid-back, a deep thinker. He'd go out of his way and do anything to help anybody,'' she said, describing how he pulled up her campaign signs for her as he removed his after last year's election.
Rositano was a businessman. Since the mid-1980s he co-owned Len Rossi Health Foods and Rossi's Record Room, which his father opened on Franklin Road between Franklin and Brentwood in 1974.
The father and son also had been tag-team wrestling partners until 1972, when Rositano's father was injured in a car accident.
Rositano's life changed two years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer. He continued trying to exercise, eat right and keep the fighting spirit, but his health deteriorated. The big, burly former wrestler lost 80 pounds from his 325-pound frame during chemotherapy treatments.
He was unable to attend a swearing-in ceremony with his fellow aldermen due to the illness. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved a resolution to allow any alderman suffering from a serious illness to participate in the meetings over the phone to help Rositano stay in touch with the town's business.
When he sought alternative medical treatment for the cancer, his neighbors and fellow Nolensville residents held a concert for him to offset the cost. More than 450 people attended the event, which included numbers from Sheriff Ricky Headley, the Yates Family Blue Grass Band, The DeVilles, members of Little Texas and the Hager Twins of television's Hee Haw.
In his final months, Rositano spent a great deal of his time with his family, including his wife and three children. This summer, the family was able to take a trip to Florida.
''Nolensville has suffered a tremendous loss. He worked really hard to provide a legacy for his family and for all of us,'' said Knapper.
Rositano was a member of Nolensville United Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Lee Rositano.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Wanda LeMay Rositano, Nolensville, formerly of Columbia, Tenn.; daughter, Alexis Nicole Rositano, Nolensville; sons, Joseph Leonard and Michael Richard Rositano, both of Nolensville; and father, Len ''Rossi'' Rositano, Nolensville.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Woodbine Funeral Home, Hickory Chapel, 5852 Nolensville Road, in Nashville, with the Rev. Diana Hough officiating.
Memorial contributions may be made to Nolensville United Methodist Church Steeple Fund.