Gulf Coast Pro Wrestling Legend “Cowboy” Bob Kelly Passes Away at Age 78

Nick Paglino

According to, “Cowboy” Bob Kelly, who many consider the most popular wrestler in the history of the Gulf Coast territory, passed away yesterday at the age of 78.

Kelly’s health had been declining in recent months due to lung cancer and other ailments.

Kelly was a legitimate cowboy who competed as a wrestler in high school and the military, rodeo and stock car racing before becoming the top babyface in Gulf Coast Championship Wrestling. He held that role from 1967 to 1976.

After retiring from wrestling, Kelly and wife Chris entered the real estate business and were successful. Chris, who had an orphanage in Africa named after her, passed away last October after 55 years of marriage and five children. Kelly had been serving on the board of the Cauliflower Alley Club and was president of the annual Gulf Coast wrestling reunions, which were instrumental in keeping wrestlers from that territory in contact with each other.

Kelly was very close with the late Bill Moody (Percy Pringle/Paul Bearer); Moody accepted The Lou Thesz Award from Kelly at last year’s Cauilflower Alley Club banquet.

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