Tamba was born Francisco ("Panchito" or "Pancho") Arreola Gaona on May 27, 1950. I'm not 100% certain of this date, but he may have debuted in 1970 under a mask that he lost around four years later. I believe that he was a grandson of Octavio Gaona, known because of being the first Mexican NWA World Middleweight champion.
Tamba made a name for himself in the independent circuit because of his high workrate for such a big man. He then moved on to the bigger independent circuit of Lucha Libre Internacional (L.L.I. aka the UWA). He got over well because of his style. He wasn't smooth or all that fast, but he was a hard worker and seeing such a huge man flying around the ring with ease was quite a sight. At this time is when he gained his "Elefante Volador" (Flying Elephant) gimmick.
He always was low/mid-card Toreo guy, but he got the occassional main event runs many guys got back then, having a rivalry with Canek (including a hair vs. mask match), and he also got to team with Andre The Giant to draw against Canek and Perro Aguayo at the main event of the Jan 16, 1982 El Toreo card.
He formed a famous tag team with Canek, and had runs as a part of a regular trio, one of them with Canek and El Cobarde II (who was paired up with Canek so he'd get "the rub" by being the partner of the #1 star in the country) called Los Desarmadores, and one of them with Perro Aguayo and Fishman called Los Invencibles.
Another important event of his career was going to Japan on March of 1983 where he faced Tiger Mask three times in singles matches.
Perhaps the biggest change during Tamba's career came when he was put in a team with Abdullah the Butcher. Reportedly, Abby actually liked him and sent him to Puerto Rico (to wrestle for Carlos Colón) and when he came back he was billed as "Abdullah Tamba". Like most overweight wrestlers, his run as a worker was done when he started gaining more weight and his knees couldn't take it anymore, so this was a smart move for him. Abby was so over in Mexico, that now Tamba could get over easily doing very little and relaunch his career with a new and fresh gimmick.
By the early 90s he was nearly immobile and he was mostly inactive though he'd come back a few months a year to appear at some cards, usually Toreo or Arena Neza (the two most important buildings LLI/UWA ran at the time) cards, and now he was back as a "legendary babyface" kind of figure.
On February 28, 1992, Tamba lost a "Hair vs. Career" match to Tigre Canadiense (Mike Lozanksy). This was like an Onita retirement, because he at least wrestled once 4 months later at El Toreo, though he didn't do much more after that because his body wouldn't let him.
I hadn't heard of Tamba until 12 months or so before his death, when it was said in the Observer that he was very ill and he suffered of diabetes. Lately he was living in Ciudad Juarez. He was a known alcoholic and had been to hospital several times for alcohol related problems. People that I know that saw him shortly before he died, said that he looked terrible and that it was clear that he didn't have a lot of life left.
Tamba died on September 6, 2001 in Tijuana. A curious thing about this is that a few years ago, sometime around the mid 90s, nobody knew his whereabouts and there were huge rumors of his death to the point that he had to appear in the mags to actually show that he was alive and well.
May he rest in peace.
Luchas de apuestas record
|Date||Apuesta||Winner(s)||Loser(s)||Arena and/or Place|
|72/??/??||mask||Octavio Gaona||Tamba||Arena Bravo - Mexico City|
|77/12/25||hair||Tamba||Barrabás||Plaza de Toros Monumental - Monterrey, N.L.|
|79/03/25||hair||Tamba||Delfín II||El Cortijo - Mexico City|
|82/08/15||hair||Scorpio||Tamba||El Toreo - Naucalpan, Mexico State|
|87/??/??||hair||Tinieblas||Abdullah Tamba||L.A. Olympic Auditorium - Los Angeles, CA, USA|
|89/03/25||hair||Tamba||Delfin II||El Cortijo - Mexico City|
|92/02/28||hair (1)||Tigre Canadiense||Tamba||Arena Neza - Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico State|
|95/02/05||hair||Antifaz||Tamba||Arena Naucalpan - Naucalpan, Mexico State|
|(1) Tamba's career was also on the line|