While his classmates were playing video games or riding their bikes or going to the movies, James was sharing the ring with such wrestling legends as The Junkyard Dog, the “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant and the Rock-n-Roll Express.
Monday will mark 30 years in the wrestling business for James.
To celebrate the occasion, James’ promotion — Southern States Wrestling — will be holding a night of classic wrestling action at Daniel Boone High School on Nov. 3. Bell time is 7:30 p.m., and tickets go on sale at the door at 5 p.m. the day of the event. Admission is $10 per person. Tickets for children 10 and under are $5.
In the main event, James will face the "Progressive Liberal" Daniel Richards, who has been featured in newspapers and on television around the world, including on HBO Vice News, BBC America and the CBS Evening News.
But the event is more than just a celebration; it’s also a fundraiser for The Gray Community Chest. SSW will also be collecting canned food items for the Gray Food Bank and new toys for the Johnia Berry Memorial Toy Drive.
“This event is not just for me. It’s for the fans who have supported me over the years, the wrestlers who helped me get started and young wrestlers I enjoyed helping get started." James said.
THE KING OF KINGSPORT
For years, James has billed himself at the “King of Kingsport,” running promotions and wrestling throughout the Tri-Cities. James has traveled more than 2 million miles on U.S. roads, going to and from wresting events in nearly every state in the union. Thanksgiving week, James will have wrestled 4,000 matches.
And like many other notable wrestlers, James is also a published author, writing two books about his life in the business and a book on local wrestling history.
James began his career in wrestling at the age of 14, helping hang posters to promote events and working on the ring crew. The following year he stepped into the ring as a referee. Shortly after, he became a wrestler.
The week after graduation, James said he went on the road and never looked back.
“Several promoters I compete for wanted to do something special for my 30th anniversary in their area, but I wanted to do something in my home area to help give a hand up to those who need one," James said. "I've helped raise money for community organizations from North Carolina to Wyoming, and we have great groups right here at home that need help.”
Beau James’ Top 5 wrestling matches:
No. 5: Ron Wright vs. Whitey Caldwell, a Hair vs. Hair Match at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium — Oct. 31, 1962.
“This is during their first set of matches. Ron was still green, and I'm sure they had much better matches over the years. But this is their first time as the main event. Footage from this night is the only known footage of Whitey wrestling.
No. 4: Ron Fuller and Jimmy Golden vs. Bob Armstrong and Robert Fuller at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama — Aug. 12, 1985.
“This match had a full year build up. No one saw what was coming, and they got another full year off of the results.”
No. 3: Don Kernodle and Sgt. Slaughter vs. Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat at the Greensboro, North Carolina, Coliseum — March 12,1983.
“They built to this match for months. It sold out in advance, and people were turned away by the (thousands). So many people were trying to get there it caused a traffic jam. Local radio started announcing if you don't have tickets don't go. This match gave birth to the idea of Starrcade, which gave birth to (pay-per-view) events.”
No. 2: Buddy Rogers winning the NWA world title from Pat O'Connor at Comisky Park in Chicago — June 30, 1961.
“This match stands the test of time and is as good now as it was almost 60 years ago. The two biggest stars in the country shown on live network TV and drew a huge house. At the time, the biggest.”
No. 1: A “Loser Leaves Town” match between Bill Dundee and Jerry Lawler at the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis — June 6, 1983.
“This was a Super Bowl, World Series, Ali vs Frazier all in one. All the wrestlers on the card went out and sat with the fans.”