January 10, 2018 – “A New Year, A New Project”

Hello and Happy New Year, everyone!

I sincerely hope that the winter break was enjoyable for everyone, but it is a new year and a new semester. Before moving on to what the archives have in store for me in the coming weeks, I had already taken the initiative and requested the last Minutes of the Annual Convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy from the interlibrary loan system with hopes of finishing what I can on research on the medals (and they may contain information for my thesis as well). I have done what I can with what I had available with the finding aid. Hopefully, those requests will be handled soon. As for today, there were new tasks waiting for me.

I arrived on campus at 9:25 AM and greeted everyone with New Year wishes before settling on what my schedule would be like. This conversation with Mr. Ogreten and Ms. Rubin did not take long as I opted to uphold the schedule that was previously agreed upon last semester. They had no objections to this notion and so the schedule remains the same as it did last semester: Wednesdays from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. This also means this blog will be updated with new posts on Wednesdays as well. Unless, of course, there are exceptions like with the arrivals of the books I requested. With the schedule formalized, I had a choice of assignments.

Mr. Ogreten had already discussed with me before the break on processing a collection of slides that dealt with botany and I was fully expected to start on that today. However, Ms. Rubin had another collection from another UCF football player. She told me it was only one box to process and it would take long to do so. Since I enjoyed the O’Shaunessey Collection, I chose the latter. I am probably going to do the botany slides next, though.

The collection I worked on today was items that belonged Ed Gantner. The items included his Inaugural Knights Football jacket (the same one Michael O’Shaughnessey has in his collection), an award for Best Defensive Player of the Week from 1979 that Gantner won, a photograph of a newspaper article featuring Gantner from 1981, a photograph of Gantner wearing the aforementioned jacket, and a photograph of the Knights in a football game (not sure year it is from nor who they are playing against. I tried to look it up, but the closest match for the opposing team was the East Tennessee State Buccaneers logo). Luckily, the jacket already had acid free paper underneath it, but the photographs needed to be removed the frames they were in.

It seemed simple enough, but the photograph of Mr. Gantner himself was attached to a paper and I turned it over to Chris Saclolo to remove the photo from the paper. I quickly grabbed two sleeves for the photographs and labeled a folder for them. When Chris returned the photograph, the processing itself was finished. What was left included doing research on the finding aid.

I learned the tragic story of Ed “The Bull Gantner’s life while researching him.

Edward J. Gantner, Jr. (February 4, 1959 – December 31, 1990) was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and attended Edgewater High School where his football career began. He briefly had a scholarship to play football for the University of Tennessee Volunteers after graduation, but instead returned home and joined the University of Central Florida Fighting Knights in 1979. Gantner would play starter on the team until 1981 and become a professional football player by signing with the USFL in 1982. In 1983, Gantner joined the Tampa Bay Bandits as Defensive Tackle. Gantner would later play for the Jacksonville Bulls as an Offensive Lineman from 1984 to 1985. The USFL would later close its doors in 1986 after a pyrrhic court victory the NFL, but by then Gantner had chosen another career.

In 1985, Gantner made his wrestling debut in Championship Wrestling from Florida as Ed “The Bull” Gantner, a heel managed by Sir Oliver Humperdink (John Jay Sutton) and formed a tag team with Kareem Muhammad (Ray Canty) known as the Shock Troops. The team would begin a rivalry with The Fabulous Ones, Stan Lane and Steve Keirn, in 1986 and would also face Hall of Famers Road Warriors Hawk and Animal at The Battle of the Belts 3 on September 3, 1986. During this time, Gantner himself would have a solo rivalry against Lex Luger.

Gantner became the NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion on February 27, 1987 after Humperdink managed defeat Bad News Allen (also known as “Bad News Brown”) three days earlier and gave Gantner the title. Gantner would later lose the title on March 15, 1987 to Mike Rotunda (best known as “IRS” in the WWE as well as the father of current stars Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt). Gantner would turn on Humperdink and became a babyface. Gantner feuded with Humperdink’s group while in tag teams with Hall of Fame talent such as Barry Windham, Blackjack Mulligan (Barry Windham’s father and Mike Rotunda’s father-in-law), and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Sadly, Gantner’s health began to decline and he retired from wrestling in July of 1987. (http://www.wwe.com/classics/classic-lists/the-best-unknown-wrestlers)

Tragically, Ganter’s health continued to deteriorate as his kidneys began failing as a result of his steroid abuse since high school. On November 23, 1989, Gantner had a kidney transplant from one of his three sisters (http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1989-12-02/sports/8912022970_1_ed-kidneys-deborah). Unfortunately, his health declined further that his mental state was being affected, too. Gantner’s suffering ended on December 31, 1990 at the young age of 31 as he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the heart. He was buried at Palm Cemetery in Winter Park, Orange County, Florida. His life remains a tragic testament of the effects of steroid abuse.

I apologize if this re-telling of Ed Gantner’s upset people, but it is what is. To move on from this dark subject, I did not get around to actually coding the finding aid today. Instead, that will be next weeks task. So, I hate to leave on a somber note but there is not anything else to say. Until next week, stay safe and enjoy the weekend! Bye!

Author: 57r3l574d

I am currently a Graduate Student at the University of Central Florida and simultaneously employed by the university library's Special Collections and University Archives as a Other Personnel Service (OPS) Student. Expected to graduate in 2019 with a History MA - Public History Track.

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