Lanny Mark Poffo (born December 28, 1954), better known by his ring names“Leaping” Lanny Poffo and The Genius, is a Canadian-Americanprofessional wrestler, motivational speaker, poet, and actor. Poffo was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to Angelo Poffo, an Italian AmericanCatholic, and Judy Poffo, a Jewish-American. He is also the real-life younger brother of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Poffo grew up in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Lanny Poffo made his debut in 1974, losing to Wayne Cowan in the opening match of an All-South Wrestling Alliance card held in Atlanta, GA on April 16. Poffo remained in the promotion for several months, defeating Cowan in a rematch and also gaining a win over The Great Fuji. At a card on July 9, 1974 in Atlanta he teamed with his father Angelo Poffo for the first time, defeating the veteran team The Royal Kangaroos.
Still in his rookie year, Poffo and his father then headed to Big Time Wrestling, one of the varied promotions affiliated with the National Wrestling Alliance at that time. In their initial match with BTW, Lanny and Angelo lost by disqualification to Lou Thesz and Mighty Igor on November 30, 1974 at a house show in Detroit, MI. They quickly began a house show series against the team of Bobo Brazil and Fred Curry. The two wrestled as heels, with Angelo Poffo wearing a graduation gown and cap that was similar to the attire that Lanny would one day adopt in the WWF. That year they won the NWA World Tag-Team Championship, and the father/son duo held it until 1975 with successful defenses over The Mongols and Brazil & Curry. While still tag-team champions, the Poffos moved on to NWA St. Louis and continued to defend their championship. In 1975 they lost the titles and then returned to Big Time Wrestling.
1976 found Lanny wrestling primarily in singles matches, both in BTW, NWA Western States, and NWA St Louis. On May 29, 1976 Lanny received his first shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Title, losing a televised match to Terry Funk on NWA St Louis Wrestling at the Chase. He would go on to defeat wrestlers such as Don Red Cloud, Raoul Guzman, and Gary Fulton. Lanny moved to Jim Crockett‘s Mid Atlantic Championship Wrestling in July 1976, and for the first time began teaming with his brother Randy Poffo (Randy Savage). The Poffo Brothers immediately began touring on the MACW house show circuit, defeating such teams as Johnny Eagle & Manuel Soto and Danny Miller & Johnny Weaver and continued to wrestle together for the remainder of the year.
With his brother Randy having departed MACW after February, Lanny proceeded into 1977 as a singles wrestler once more. After gaining victories over George Rossi, Herb Gallant, and Leroy Rochester, Poffo gained another shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship when he faced off against Harley Race at an event in Chattanooga, TN on February 4, 1978. This time Lanny was able to wrestle the champion to a draw.