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  April 2, 1999

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Tatanka set for battle

By RYAN PYETTE -- Calgary Sun
  When he first entered the World Wrestling Federation, he was known as 'Native American Chris Chavis.'

But hey, that's a pretty long name for a packed house to chant after you just performed a spectacular bodyslam, so he changed it.

'Tatanka' fits much better.

"It's a Lakota tribe name from the tribe the white man called Sioux and it was in the movie Dances with Wolves, too," said Chavis, who grew up in Pembroke, N.C., home of the Lumbee tribe, but now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"I wanted an authentic Indian name because I'm a full-blooded native and this one was the best.

"It just had a ring to it."

And when the wrestling bell rang, Tatanka usually answered it.

And now in the rebirth of Stampede Wrestling, he'll defend the WOW title tonight (7:30 p.m.) at the Stampede Pavilion against Jim (The Anvil) Neidhart's 'cousin', Jason (The Sledgehammer).

Tatanka signed on with the WWF only one year after joining 'The Monster Factory,' Larry Sharpe's famous wrestling school.

He went undefeated for two years in the WWF, fighting in main events against superstars like Rick Martel, Yokozuna, Diesel (Kevin Nash), Razor Ramon, Shawn (the Heartbreak Kid) Michaels, and Lex Luger.

But Tatanka jumped out as quickly as he plunged in, becoming one of the classics in that 'Whatever happened to...' category.

"I left because that was the thing to do at the time, everyone was leaving," said Chavis.

"The WWF just wasn't the place to be; people were jumping ship.

"I had put away a lot of my money, so I invested into various business ventures and also kept active on the independent wrestling circuit."

He still does.

Tatanka's currently the South African heavyweight champ and the World Organization of Wrestling title-holder.

In fact, he just grappled with Yokozuna, the Japanese Sumo character and former WWF champ, last week.

Tatanka is ready for the battle against The Sledgehammer.

He's applying the paint, donning the feathers.

And he wants the fans at the Pavilion to provide the war cry.