Fred Alex Ottman is a retired American professional wrestler. Born with a big stature, he began power-lifting at the age of seventeen and while doing so he was noticed by Boris Malenko, who trained him to become a professional wrestler. At the age of 28, he debuted as a professional wrestler, wrestling for various promoters under different monikers including Big Bubba and Big Man Steel. At the age of 33, he joined World Wrestling Federation, where he wrestled first as Tugboat, playing a key babyface ally of Hulk Hogan. Later he changed his name to Typhoon to form a tag team called The Natural Disasters with Earthquake. Later as Shockmaster, he made the biggest blunder in the wrestling history, falling over heels while entering the set of WCW’s 'Fall Brawl 1993: War Games'. Although it hurt his career for a short while, he soon overcame it and continued to wrestle successfully until the age of forty-five.
Childhood & Early Years
Fred Alex Ottman was born on August 10, 1956, possibly in Norfolk, a city located in US state of Virginia. Little is known about his family background except that his father, Charles Ottman, was a mechanic for Eastern Airlines. Fred later said, “My father was little but he was strong… he was always a big motivation for me. I always wanted to be as strong as my dad.”
From his father, he also learned the value of blue collar jobs. When he was just eleven years old, he landed up with his first job, changing tires and oil at a service station. Too big for his age, he found it difficult to socialize, which made him an introvert.
He had his early education at Miami Senior High School, where he played football at defensive end, participating in the Orange Bowl, the football bowl game played in the Miami metropolitan area since 1935. He also played the drum for his school band and participated in the track and field.
While in his high school, he also did some amateur wrestling, mainly for conditioning during the football off-season and also before track & field in the spring. Around 1973, he started power-lifting at the Coral Gables Health Spa.
In 1974, he graduated from school and entered Miami Dade Community College with a track and field scholarship. During this period, he excelled in discuss and shop put, while continuing with power-lifting.
He could not complete his college education, having to take up job because of his father’s illness. However, he continued with his training at Coral Gable under various trainers, the most important of them being Boris Malenko, who trained him to become a professional wrestler.
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In 1984, Fred Ottman started his professional wrestling career in a match against CC Sonic. Soon he was noticed by well-known wrestling promoters and was recruited by Georgia Championship Wrestling, for whom he started wrestling as Sigfried the Giant from February 1985.
In 1986, he left GCW to start wrestling for Texas All Star Wrestling as Big Buba. In 1987, he moved to Continental Wrestling Association and in 1988 to Florida Championship Wresting, where he took up Big Steel Man as his new ring name.
World Wrestling Federation
On June 27, 1989, Fred Ottman debuted on World Wrestling Championship in a dark match under the ring name Big Steel Man, defeating Tim Homer in it. Thereafter, he participated in three more dark matches, defeating Paul Roma and Boris Zukhov, and losing to Mr Perfect.
In September, 1989, he changed his ring name to Tugboat Tyler and in October to Tugboat Thomas. Thereafter, he continued to wrestle under his new moniker, participating in 44 WWF matches throughout the year.
In 1990, he debuted on WWF television under the ring name of Tugboat Thomas, defeating Mile Sharpe in the January 27 episode of ‘WWF Superstars of Wrestling’. Soon after, his ring name was shortened to Tugboat, with red striped shirt, white pants, and a sailor's hat as his costume.
In November 1990, he made his pay-per-view debut at the ‘Survivor Series’, where he teamed with Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man and Jim Duggan; but was eliminated with Hogan becoming the sole survivor. In all he fought in 179 WWF matches in 1990.
In June 1991, while playing Hulk Hogan’s babyface ally, he made a heel turn and joined Earthquake, eventually changing his name to ‘Typhoon’ and forming a tag team called ‘The Natural Disasters’ with him. In 1992, they defeated Money Inc. to capture the World Tag Team title.
‘The Natural Disasters’ was eventually dissolved in early 1993. Thereafter, Earthquake left for Japan while Ottman briefly remained with WWF, fighting as a single competitor, before signing with World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
On September 19, 1993, Fred Ottman made his WCW live debut as the Shockmaster. But while doing so he was supposed to burst through the wall onto the sets of 'Fall Brawl 1993: War Games', wearing a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet, complete with silver glittering. But it led to a disaster.
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Unable to see, he tripped over a piece of lumber while entering the set and fell head over heels, revealing his identity. While the incident caused laughter all around, his character was repackaged; but it never made the desired impact and had to be written off.
In May 1994, Fred Ottman returned to World Wrestling Federation as Typhoon, replacing Earthquake in house show matches against Yokozuna. However, he was defeated in most of them.
In June 1994, he returned to WWF Television, appearing in one episode of ‘Superstars’, in which he defeated Quebecer Pierre. However, due to his continuous losses to Yokozuna, he left WWF in August and began appearing on the independent circuit in the East Coast.
In 1995, he traveled to Japan, where he competed in around 28 one-night tag team tournaments, held by a Japanese professional wrestling promotion called Wrestle Association R in various cities across Japan. His team reached the semi-finals before they had to bow out.
In March 1996, he traveled to Malaysia, where he wrestled in two matches for the National Wrestling Alliances, defeating King Kong Bundy in the second. Thereafter, he mostly wrestled in the USA, visiting Canada in 1998 and Australia in 2000. He eventually retired in 2001.
In his sixteen years long career, he had always been on the move, holding wrestling matches in forty-eight of the fifty American states. He had also been to several foreign countries.
Award & Achievements
Fred Ottman has won several titles. Major among them are the AWA International Heavyweight Championship (1986), AWA Southern Tag Team Championship (1987), Florida Championship Wrestling (1988), WWF Tag Team Championship (with Earthquake, 1992) etc.
Family & Personal Life
On 15 November 1989, Fred Ottman married Bobbi Rodriguez, with whom he has three children; two sons called Berkley and Bailey and a daughter called Beau. It is not known when they divorced.
He married his present wife, Sheila Ottman, in 2011. According to Sheila’s Facebook profile, they met in May 1986. Currently, he lives in Lakeland, Florida and works as a safety manager for Gaffin Industrial Services.