Bruiser Brody, born Frank Donald Goodish, was a trailblazer in the professional wrestling industry. While he also worked under the name of King Kong Brody, Goodish became well known while donning the Bruiser Brody name. Popularizing a wild, big-man brawling style while in World Class Championship Wrestling and Puerto Rico, Frank Goodish inspired many who would become pro wrestlers after him.
He would also have a major impact while both in World Wrestling Council (WWC) and Japan, often teaming up with Stan Hansen while in All Japan Pro Wrestling. He also competed in New Japan Pro Wrestling, oftentimes forming a tag team with Jimmy Snuka.
In Japan, WWC, and WCCW, Brody used his hardcore style as a professional wrestler to become one of the most feared names in the business. However, backstage situations led to a brutal death while in Puerto Rico.
As reported in the Dark Side of the Ring documentary, as well as other documentaries, Brody got into a heated exchange with WWC promoter, Jose Huertas Gonzalez. According to friend and fellow wrestler Tony Atlas, Brody and Gonzalez were arguing in the locker room shower before a match at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon, and Goodish left the shower with stab wounds. San Juan paramedics had much trouble transporting him to the hospital due to traffic, and the pro wrestling world was shocked to find out that Brody was later pronounced dead.
In a 2014 interview, former pro wrestling star Manny Fernandez gave somewhat of an alternative story. He stated how he was told that Brody was owed $40,000 and demanded the money back. Brody was told he would receive the money at the event. Instead, his stomach was sliced open, causing Brody to fall to his knees. Then, Gonzalez held Brody’s hair and stabbed him in the chest. Contrary to Tony Atlas’ story, Fernandez was told that Atlas sat there and did nothing throughout the altercation.
Unfortunately for friends and family, especially his wife Barbara, Gonzalez pleaded self-defense and was later found acquitted for his murder. Dutch Mantell, who was a part of the Dark Side of the Ring documentary, wrote a chilling blog post on Brody’s death and what happened on that dreadful night.
“Chris Youngblood told me that Invader had approached Brody and requested that he accompany him to the shower to talk business. He said that Invader’s hand was covered with a towel. Then he said he heard screaming and a commotion inside the shower and then seeing Brody stumble through the door holding his chest. Brody went down; he didn’t collapse but went down under his own control. That was just before I got back into the room.
“The guys in the other dressing room knew that something had happened, but were kept in the dark as to what it was. Atlas, by this time, had returned to the stadium and he kept saying that Brody was going to die. I told Tony to stop saying that, but Tony, by this time, was out of control completely. The whole situation was out of control. Some Police Officers entered the room and Tony began to tell them what happened, but they couldn’t understand English. Strange thing about it though. They didn’t take it seriously. They would smile and mutter to each other because they just thought it was another wild PR angle.
“Time moved slow. Atlas was screaming by now. He was screaming at the cops who weren’t understanding a thing he was saying. He tried to enlist an interpreter to tell them what happened. And the Invader reappeared. Nobody knew where had gone but I surmised that he went home, because he came back with a different shirt on. He came right back as though nothing had happened and started conducting business as usual. He completely ignored Atlas, who looked wild by now, Atlas pleaded with several PR boys to translate but they’d look at Invader and walk away. Finally, Roberto Soto said he’d interpret. It was to no avail. These cops grew up watching Carlos and Invader so, to them, they were big stars and they, just ordinary policemen.
“I was on last that night and Atlas and I left the stadium and headed for the hospital that Brody had been taken to. El Medico Centro was the name of it and somebody had told me that it was the best medical facility on the island. As we were walking into the hospital, I met the surgeon who had already operated on Brody. I asked him about Brody’s status and he just looked at me and said it was touch and go. Brody never left the operating room. They actually performed two surgeries that night. I always believed that if Brody had been in an American hospital, he would still be alive. What Brody actually died from as loss of blood. He literally bled to death on the table during the second operation.”
Although Brody made his name primarily in WCCW and WWC, he also had a stint in Vince McMahon Sr.’s WWWF, even competing against Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship on multiple occasions. He also had opportunities to win the NWA World Heavyweight Title, unsuccessfully challenging Ric Flair. Wrestling fans also know Brody from his infamous steel cage match against Lex Luger, which led to Brody no-selling Luger’s moves, and Luger walking out of the match.
In 2019, Brody was inducted into the Legacy Wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. While his legacy is indelible in pro wrestling history, his fateful altercation with Jose Gonzalez will always be attached to his career.