Savannah Jack, ex-wrestling champ, dies

Ex-wrestling champ Savannah Jack died last week.

Savannah Jack, whose real name was Savannah "Ted" Russell, played football for the University of Minnesota and was a star wrestler for a brief period of time in the 1980s. He wrestled for the Universal Wrestling Federation from 1986 to 1987, a time when UWF owner Bill Watts attempted to make his company a national competitor to the WWF.

Jack's most notable career accomplishment came when he held the UWF television title, which he won from legendary wrestler Freebird Buddy Roberts.

Jack left wrestling in 1987 after he began coughing up blood clots backstage at a show in Fort Worth, Texas. He was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease.

Savannah Jack, champion, in 1987
Savannah Jack, champion, in 1987

City Pages caught up with Savannah Jack a couple years ago and found a man living a modest life in south Minneapolis.

Despite a "limp" and a slight slouch, Jack still stood at 6'2 and moved "with an athletic ease." The former wrestler worked as a blackjack dealer, a pit boss at Mystic Lake, and a cab driver for Blue and White.

He had three strokes starting in 2001 which left him disabled but Jack wasn't in bad spirits, at least not in 2009.

"That's life," Jack told City Pages. "It's what life dealt for me. I could be dead right now."

"I had the time of my life," he said. "I can say I'm the luckiest man."

No details are available on Jack's cause of death at this time.

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