Fiercely competitive, a natural athlete, and the son of a professional wrestler, Tully Blanchard was taught from a young age that he could do more, do it better,do it faster; and that he could accomplish anything if he tried. This brought him to extreme fame in the professional wrestling world, but little did he known it would also bring him to extreme lows. Watch this motivational video and read Tully's inspirational life story as he describes how he discovered faith and the struggles since then.
By the time he reached his teens, he was already on the fast track to becoming a professional athlete. He excelled at both baseball and football, but chose football. It was the king of Texas high school sports and better to be the big fish in the big pond than a big fish in a small one. He went on to Southern Methodist University in Dallas where he was first a quarterback and then shuffled back in a couple of moves to end up as the defensive end. Not one to take losing the spotlight, Tully got angry and quit, setting his sights on West Texas State University. There he was offered the position of starting quarterback. Once again, he was a star, garnering praise and notoriety. All he had to do was work hard and keep his eyes on the goal and his dreams of a NFL career would be his.
But those dreams ended in a nightmare when, while joy riding with his buddies, they were struck by another vehicle. Tully endured over five hours of surgery and over five hundred stitches, only to be informed by his doctors that he wouldn’t be picking up a football, much less throwing one, for more than six months. Determined to keep his NFL chances from being derailed, he was out throwing the football within three weeks. Four months later, he was back on the field at the start of the season, ready to play. But it wouldn’t take long to realize that his dreams of the NFL were history. The damage done to his body was too severe, seriously altering his performance on the field.
Tully, however, wasn’t one to give up. After graduating from college, he turned to professional wrestling. His father, also a professional wrestler, opened the doors and waved Tully through. From there, Tully was on his own, but up to the challenge, sweeping through the Southwest to clinch his first Championship title in July of 1978, less than two years after his first match.
He was tough. He was relentless. And he had the endurance. He was also savvy to the world of wrestling, knowing how to play the crowd. The money started rolling in and the high life began, only to have reality slap him once again. His sixteen-year-old brother, Taylor, had been killed in a car accident.
While his parents turned to religion for comfort in their darkest hours, Tully consoled himself with plans to make himself a bigger star on television. There was more money, more Championships, and now—drugs.
His relationship with his parents was soon strained to the breaking point. Drugs, alcohol, women, parties, and fights were the norm as his life spun out of control. His professional life spiraled downward. Finally, unable to pay his bills, drained from the drugs and alcohol, on the verge of bankruptcy and foreclosure, Tully quit wrestling, gave up the drugs, the drinking, and the women, and concentrated on rebuilding his body, his focus, and his career.
Finally, on top of his game again, and lured by the promise of more money, bigger fights, and heftier titles, Tully left the SCW and moved to North Carolina. There, his career vaulted to the top once again, earning him as much as --#--12,000 in a single night of wrestling. He claimed title after title, spent money like was no end to it, and was slowly seduced back into drugs. It was all part of the life and he loved every minute of it, wanting still more. He continued to think up new and more outrageous moves in his bag of dirty tricks, prompting more than one to call him “a monster”, viscous, deadly, and known for kicking his opponents while they were down.
At the age of thirty-one, Blanchard was one of the top ten single wrestlers in the country, but being close to the top wasn’t enough. He wanted to be number one. He was more than driven. He was obsessed.Consequently, as the World’s TV Champion, he joined the “super stable” with Ric Flair (World Heavyweight Champion),and Arn and Ole Anderson (World Tag Team Champions), and the infamous “Four Horsemen” were born.
But soon, trouble came knocking again. Tully’s promoter, Jim Crockett, decided to sell out to Turner Broadcasting. At the time, only a few wrestlers in Crockett’s stable were on contract—Tully, Flair, Dusty Rhodes, and Magnum TA. Suddenly, in the midst of negotiations, Turner’s representatives called Tully in for an interview. Tully didn’t hesitate to tell them everything he thought was wrong with Crockett’s operation. While Turner may have been grateful for the inside scoop, Crockett wasn’t thrilled with Tully’s apparent lack of loyalty. Suddenly, Tully was banned from access to the team jet, left to find his own way to the matches, and when his contract came up for renewal...it wasn’t.
Tully wasn’t about to let the politics in the NWA wash him out and deprive him of the lifestyle he’d come to revel in. Tully headed up to New York and the World Wrestling Federation. His reputation as a big ticket item proceeded him and he was soon sweeping through the competition, earning him more money than he’d ever dreamed of having. And then, the ultimate accomplishment—his name on the marquee at Madison Square Garden.
He sat in the locker rooms with Jesse Ventura, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Dusty Rhodes, Rick Steamboat, Lex Luger, Barry Windham, and Tito Santana. In spite of the egos, the backstage competitions, the antics, the betrayals, the broken promises, and the constantly shifting alliances, Tully loved it. They traveled together, fought together, partied together, laughed together, and got drunk together. If one bought a new car, the others would run out and buy a more expensive one. He knew their secrets and they knew his. It was a brotherhood, in spite of the problems brewing just below the surface.
Doors continued to open—he played golf with the pros, counted NFL greats among his friends, met with Holly wood stars, and was feted by CEO’s and politicians. He dressed like a GQ clothes horse, traveled first class, and accepted the accolades and fawning as if they were his due. In his mind ... it was. He was the best. It was as simple as that.
Then came the offer of his life. Turner Broadcasting was going to re-form the Four Horsemen and they wanted Tully. But Turner’s contract offer—too hefty to ignore—came with one small problem. He was still under contract with the WWF. When he tried to get out of his WWF contract, they refused to allow it until after Survivor Series 89. Tully only had to finish one round of fights and then walk into the largest contract of his life.
Tully Blanchard, on top of his game and at the pinnacle of his career—arrogantly walked into the locker room prior to his last round of matches—and proceeded to fail an unscheduled drug test.
Suspended for six weeks, Tully took it all in stride and went home to play golf, relax, and prepare for his upcoming reunion with the Four Horsemen. But just one week later, Rick Flair called to deliver the final blow. Turner was passing on the contract. Tully was out of a job.
Furious, Tully exploded with anger, churning in a cauldron of bitterness and defiance. Time after time over the years, Tully had hit bottom, only to claw his way back to the top, but this time, something wasn’t letting him find that incredible need to succeed. This time, he could only lay in bed, haunted by his successes...and his failures. This time, anger gave way to frustration and frustration gave way to fear. How could he fix this?
Finally, at four in the morning on November 13, 1989, he broke completely and turned to God.
Within months, he was in the spotlight again, but this time, it wasn’t to fight—it was to share his incredible testimony with one congregation after another. Then, Bill Glass (former NFL Cleveland Brown) called and invited him to work for Champions for Life Ministries.
Now, Tully is reaching out to prisoners sitting in jail cells rather than fans in the arena. He understands their pain, their bad choices, their criminal behavior. He understands what it is to be caught in a prison—even though his was emotional while theirs is physical. He can relate to their feelings of being outcasts and forgotten.