By Frank Sieber for TRS 247 Radio with Cris and Alysia
What more can one say about a man known as Luscious Johnny? Well, there is much more to say about this man, once a Superstar World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) & World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Wrestler. Mr. Johnny Valiant was born on November 25, 1946 as Thomas Sullivan in Pittsburgh, Pa. He grew up in the working class neighborhood of North Hills, a few blocks away from where superstar wrestler Bruno Sammartino would eventually reside. Knowing of Bruno’s prowess in the ring, Thomas walked up and knocked on his door, was graciously welcomed by Bruno, and as they say the rest is history.
Befriended by Sammartino, Sullivan would soon become involved in the wrestling shows activities, working with the crew and setting up the ring, stringing up the ropes and tightening the turnbuckles, and whatever else he could do at the small arenas in and around the Detroit area. He would do anything to be near the action, and he knew in his heart that he would one day become a pro wrestler. Thomas loved to play baseball all throughout his teen years, but once the wrestling bug had bitten him, and he started to hit the weights and train, his glove and bat were laid to rest for good. He was soon to be taken under the original Sheik’s wings and eventually be managed by Al Costello, a charter member of the tag team known as The Fabulous Kangaroos.
Eventually, after wrestling the well known heels of the day, Thomas would hook up with Jimmy Valiant, who took a liking to the very energetic and enthusiastic Sullivan. Jimmy introduced him to the World Wrestling Association (WWA), where Dick the Bruiser would team up Thomas with Jimmy, and they would be known as “Luscious” Johnny Valiant and his ‘brother’ “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant. The Valiant ‘brothers’ would soon emerge victorious against Dick the Bruiser and Sammartino for the WWA Tag Team Titles.
Having moved on to the Vince McMahon Sr. led WWWF the Valiant ‘brothers’ won the Tag Team Championship there, against Tony Garea and Dean Ho in May of 1974. They reigned as champs for 370 days, which at that time was a record for a tag team. The team then moved on to the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), where they wrestled in the territories run by the NWA. They returned to the WWWF in 1978 when soon after Jimmy retired and another ‘brother’ Jerry Valiant joined him in the squared circle. Johnny and Jerry won the newly renamed WWF Tag Team Titles from Larry Zybysko and Tony Garea. After losing the titles to Tito Santana and Ivan (Polish Power) Putski, the duo disbanded, and Johnny went on to have a successful managerial career.
After his wrestling career had come to an end Johnny Valiant embarked on a new venture, comedy and acting. After so many years in the wrestling (sports entertainment) business, the move to this line of work wasn’t a far stretch for this honest, blue collar, and very funny individual. These days Johnny lives quietly in Queens, NY with his wife of 8 years. He enjoyed his career, albeit not the easiest, with all the travelling from city to city, night after night, and the obligations that he had to keep. It was all this hard work that afforded him the opportunity to see a good part of the world. With all that he has done, and accomplished in the public eye, Thomas Sullivan (“Luscious” Johnny Valiant) is very much at peace where he is on life’s stage right now, and enjoys being retired and spending time with his bride, and doing appearances and his show on The Rendezvous Show with Cris and Alysia. If you want to laugh incessantly I would recommend tuning in to his show, for I know you will be pleasantly surprised at the man’s wit and brand of humor. I truly enjoyed speaking with JV, and look forward to more conversations in the very near future.