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Chief Jay Strongbow

Sport: Wrestling

Born: October 4, 1928

Died: April 3, 2012

Town: Nutley

Luke Joseph Scarpa was born October 4, 1928 in Nutley. He attended Nutley High School, where he became known as one of the strongest teenagers in New Jersey. Luke’s favorite trick was tearing phone books in half. He was hired by Wilson Sporting Goods to tear a rubber basketball apart to prove how much better Wilson’s leather product was. A local wrestling promoter witnessed one of these stunts and signed him up.

Luke became a crowd favorite at Newark’s Laurel Garden in the mid-1950s as Joltin’ Joe Scarpa and went on to wrestle in the late-1950s and 1960s in the National Wrestling Alliance. The NWA was the sport’s largest governing body prior to the World Wrestling Federation. He won multiple Heavyweight and Tag Team titles in Florida, Georgia and Alabama; his partners included Don Curtis, Jose Lothario, Lee Fields, Lester Welch, Alex Perez and Raul Molina (aka El Mongol).

In 1970, in his early 40s, Luke went to work for WWF and assumed a Native American persona, Chief Jay Strongbow. He came up with the idea with help from Gorilla Monsoon. The Chief, wildly inappropriate by today’s standards, was wildly popular throughout the 1970s. Among his many nemeses were Superstar Billy Graham, Lou Albano and Spiros Albion (a former tag team partner). Strongbow and Sonny King won the WWF Tag Team title in 1972 and he won again in 1976, this time with Billy White Wolf. White Wolf was not a Native American, either. His real name was Adnan Al-Kaissie, he hailed from Iraq, and Saddam Hussein was an old high school chum. Among Chief Jay Strongbow’s most memorable matches was a 1979 “Indian Strap Match” in Madison Square Garden with longtime foe Billy Valentine.

Jay Strongbow continued wrestling professionally well into his 50s. In 1982, he was twice crowned WWF Tag Team champion, both times with his brother, Jules Strongbow. Jules was not his brother nor, of course, was he Native American . He was Francis Huntington from Omaha, Nebraska. Huntington did wrestle for a time with Wahoo McDaniel, an AFL legend who wore his nickname on his jersey and went on to wrestle professionally in the 1970s. For the record, McDaniel actually was a Native American.

After retiring in 1986, Jay Strongbow made appearances in Legends events from time to time. He was the first man down in the wild Legends Battle Royal held at Byrne Arena in East Rutherford in 1987. His son, Luke Scarpa Jr., also wrestled professionally in the 1980s. He went by Mark Young during his stint in the WWF. Chief Jay Strongbow was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame in 1994. He died in Georgia at the age of 83 after a fall in his home.


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