PITTSBURG — A former Pittsburg elected official and professional wrestler was honored at Tuesday night’s Pittsburg City Commission meeting.
Next Monday will be Ralph “Wild Red” Berry Day in Pittsburg — the 101st anniversary of his birth.
Berry was born Nov. 20, 1906, in Conway Springs, and shortly after the family moved to West Liberty, a mining camp near Chicopee.
Berry was a promising young boxer at the Pittsburg YMCA, but after breaking both hands winning the Kansas Middleweight championship, he turned to wrestling. He was a nine-time National Wrestling Association World Light Heavyweight Champion. His career spanned more than 40 years as both a wrestler and manager. Berry earned his moniker “Wild Red” after a publicity stunt in Kansas City, Kansas, in which he swung from a courthouse tree while wearing a leopard skin suit. Kansas City police were unamused and he was arrested for disturbing the peace.
Outside the ring Berry was active in local politics. In 1947 he was elected as the Parks and Public Property Commissioner for Pittsburg and twice served as interim mayor.
The proclamation was accepted by his granddaughter Diana Berry and nephew Bob Berry.
In a prepared statement, Diana Berry said her grandfather was “exceptional.”
“There are people who are exceptional souls in this world,” she said in the statement emailed to the Morning Sun. “He was a huge advocate for Pittsburg during his fame. (He) never forgot where he came from.
“What an honor to have a day recognized for him. (I am) proud to be his granddaughter, I hope to keep his legacy alive.”
Additionally, Pittsburg City Manager Daron Hall said a street in a new subdivision will be named in honor of “Wild Red” Berry.
In other business, the commission passed several ordinances related to water and sewer rates, for the coming year. Water and sewer rates will go up one percent starting January 1, 2018.
— Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @PittEditor.