Haystacks Calhoun can be hailed as one of the true originators of the big man hoss types we know and love today. Standing at 6’4, but weighing over 600 pounds, Calhoun was a big ‘ol country boy. Born in Collin County, TX, legend has it that he was discovered by traveling promoters as he was spotted picking up and carrying full-grown cows across a field. That is all sorts of magical, and I wish wrestling origins stories still had that air of legend. “I got hurt playing football in college so I couldn’t go pro so wrestling’s a thing I do now” just doesn’t conjure the same kind of feeling.
Haystacks was a trendsetter in more than just inspiring the uniform of the hillbilly wrestler. Much like Hogan bodyslamming a 7,000-pound Andre the Giant [Hogan citation needed], lifting Haystacks Calhoun was seminal in establishing the strength of all-time great Bruno Sammartino.
Giant Haystacks was The Renegade to Haystacks Calhoun’s Ultimate Warrior. The European non-union equivalent of the big man dressed more like the Friendly Giant, but who knows? Maybe overalls and horseshoe necklaces just aren’t done across the Atlantic.
When Charles Caleb Colton said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, he had no idea that he would inspire generations of wrestling promoters to share and share alike in other people’s gimmicks. Haystacks Muldoon was Jack Pfiefer’s, we’ll say, interpretation of Calhoun. Muldoon interpreted the Haystacks persona in the northeast territory much more liberally than his British counterpart. He had the overalls and the horseshoe on a necklace, but also introduced a straw hat and soon to be de riguer cutoff flannel shirt.