Although Ox may not have been Harley Race or Jack Brisco in technique, he made up for it in his look, persona, and marketability. Early photos from Baker's career depict a large, yet rather unassuming, athlete. Once the head was shaved and the facial hair was grown to frightening proportions, the true Ox Baker was born. He became an image that would almost become the stereotype of a professional wrestler: big, mean, unkempt, hairy, and growling!
Despite never being a household name, even news outlets such as TMZ covered his passing. He was a star of 70s wrestling magazine covers and even caused an honest-to-goodness riot on a 1974 winter night in Cleveland. Thanks to two wrestlers dying shortly after wrestling him, his heart punch was touted as a killing machine. Still, some of his out of the ring escapades are best remembered.
Later in the '80s, Ox gradually left in-ring action. More fans would probably know of the great Ox had he become involved in some capacity during one of wrestling's "boom" periods. Aside from a blink-and-you'll-miss-it stint managing The Nightstalker (Bryan Clark/Adam Bomb) in WCW, it simply didn't happen. Instead, the Ox made his name and image known once again in his 60s and 70s as a regular on the indy and convention circuit.
Ox always seemed proud of his action figure that was part of the Figures Inc. Legends of Professional Wrestling line. When I think of him, I often picture that figure since it was such a perfect likeness. I would imagine that it served as a validation of his success. Ox didn't always get the recognition that he deserved, especially for how well he represented the business outside of the ring, but being immortalized in plastic right next to peers such as Bruno Sammartino, Wahoo McDaniel, and Ivan Koloff is quite the honor. If he can see the outpouring of love and respect since his passing, no more validation is necessary.
Although I'm sure you've already sung your way past St. Peter, Rest In Peace, Ox.