Oklafan Mourns The Death of Skandar Akbar At 75
Word broke Friday morning that former wrestler and heel manager General Skandar Akbar had passed away at the age of 75.
Akbar began his career in 1963 after training with Lou Thesz and competed for a time under his real name Jimmy Wehba. But in 1966, after limited success in the business, Fritz Von Erich suggested he change his name to reflect his middle eastern heritage (his mother was Syrian and his father Lebanese). Wehba became Skandar Akbar (sometimes spelled "Skandor Akbar" or "Scandor Akbar"), which translated to "Alexander the Great". This would be the name that most fans would know him by for the rest of his career.
Akbar entered the TSW territory in 1967 and there is documentation of him competing as Skandar Wehba in one match on Jan 1, but the name "Skandar Akbar" soon became familiar to fans after that. He formed an alliance with the Assassins and fueded with Gorgeous George, Jr. & Haystacks Calhoun. But on March 3, 1967, he had his first documented match against Danny Hodge. Hodge & Akbar would form an alliance by May that would last for the rest of the decade and the pair would feud with Akbar's former associates The Assassins (even driving them out of the state in a Loser Leaves Town match on November 3, 1967 in Oklahoma City), Togo Shikuma & Chati Yokouchi and, in 1969, the Medics.
In February 1967, Akbar won his first title when he teamed with Krusher Karlsson and def. Haystacks Calhoun and Jack Brisco for the TSW United States Tag Team Title. They would hold that title until May 10, 1967 when the dropped it to The Assassins. Akbar then regained the title with Danny Hodge in October 1967 by defeating Togo Shikuma & Chati Yokouchi and would remain champions until December of that year when they were upended by Yokoucihi & Chuck Karbo. A second title reign for Hodge & Akbar came on May 4, 1968 when they defeated Jack Donovan & Ron Reed, but that only lasted a matter of days until they lost the belts back to the same team. Akbar then spent parts of 1968 fueding with Karl Von Stroheim and Sputnik Monroe. He eventually aligned himself with Lorenzo Parente and at some point in late 1968 recaptured the US Tag Team Title for a final time, but lost it to Karl Von Stroheim & Treacherous Phillips on January 7, 1969.
Begining in 1970, Akbar began appearing in the Georgia area where he continued to be a tag team star. He won the NWA Macon Tag Team Title in September with Buddy Colt and held it for about 2 months. Two years later, he would regain the title in September with Rocket Monroe and simultaneously hold the NWA Georgia Tag Team Title with Ox Baker. Akbar would return to TSW after each venture into Georgia and at some point in the early 1970s (Oklafan does not have a specific date for this), he became the most hated heel in the territory when he turned on former partner Danny Hodge. Hodge and Akbar would remain rivals for the remainder of their careers and even after they had both retired from wrestling, their feud would reignite anytime they happened to be booked on the same card.
Akbar's greatest singles run in TSW began in December 1974 when he defeated Arman Hussein for the TSW North American Title. He would hold the belt for almost 5 months before dropping it to Danny Miller on May 14, 1975. It was his only reign as North American Champion.
Akbar made his presence known overseas as well, competing for Jim Barnett's World Championship Wrestling in Australia in 1975. He simultaneously held the NWA Austra-Asian Heavyweight & Tag Team Title (w/ George Gouliovas) until he was injured by The Great Mephisto. In the late 1970s, Akbar entered into the WWWF, where he was managed by Freddie Blassie. As one of the most powerful men in pro wrestling, it was only natural that he present himself as a conteder to Bruno Sammartino's WWWF World Title, but those matches never had a chance to happen as Bruno's neck was broken by Stan Hansen before they could take place. Without a programme to continue with, Akbar reeturned to TSW.
By the late 1970s, Akbar's inring time was coming to a close and the period that most current fans remember him for would begin as Akbar turned his wrestling mind to managing. Akbar formed a group in TSW called "Akbar's Army" and continued to terrorise the territory, buying contracts of wrestlers and bringing in newcomers, all of it funded with alleged foreign oil funds. Around 1982, Akbar returned to WCCW and was revealed as the money behind King Kong Bundy's presence, funding a group referred to as Devastation, Inc. This name became synonomous with Akbar and although the membership varied from year to year and federation to federation, the leadership always remained with Akbar. Akbar was so hated in WCCW that the fans actually began to cheer for the previously hated Gary Hart, turning him babyface for the first time in his managerial career.
Akbar would float back and forth from WCCW to MSW, bringing different groups of Devastation, Inc. with him. In one of the more memorable instances, he threw a fireball in Jim Duggan's eyes, blinding him and threatening his career. This was such a horrid move that Jim Ross filmed a special segment to "break in to" the regular Sunday morning MSW programme and update fans. Akbar also seemed to specialise in managing the odd and monstrous, bringing characters such as the One Man Gang, Kamala, The Missing Link and others such as them into the area. Akbar remained when MSW transformed into the UWF and guiding both the One Man Gang and Bubba Rogers to the UWF title as well as the team of Bill Irwin & Leroy Brown to the UWF Tag Team Title. After UWF shut down , Akbar made appearances in WCCW & GWF before fading from the national scene. He appeared locally for both PZWA & WWEmp, where he helped Tim Brooks defeat Red Eagle for the WWEmp title in the mid-1990s.
Akbar continued to make sporadic appearances in Oklahoma through 2010, while running a training school and professional wrestling show in Texas. Some of his more prominent trainees include Spoiler 2000 and Slam Shady, both former NWA-OK Oklahoma Champions. In the end, Akbar probably be better remembered as a manager and trainer than a wrestler, but no one can doubt the influence his career had over many stars both nationally and regionally. From his first documented appearance in 1967 (where he lost to Jack Brisco) to his final appearance at a UCW event in Ardmore (on February 20, 2010 where he managed The Crimson Army of Al Farat and Bash to a loss against Ryan Genesis & Rodney Mack), Akbar's 33 years of appearance in Oklahoma leaves a legacy that will be hard to match. Influential, over-the-top, fear-inducing -- these are all terms that describe the man fans referred to as "The General", but friends simply called "Ak".
Oklafan extends its condolensces to Skandar Akbar's family and friends at this time.