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Killer 'B' Promotions was born in Denver, Colorado, on May 17, 1991. The proud father: Gary Beck, who at the time was a successful corporate headhunter specializing in the fields of software engineering and information services.
The president of both his own recruiting firm (the cleverly named Beck & Associates) and the Colorado Association of Personnel Consultants, Beck had just created and managed a seminar designed to teach Denver employers what was legal and illegal during the hiring process. The seminar, called Fair Hiring Practices, earned a national award, and the creative process of putting the entire seminar together – of creating something from absolutely nothing – had sparked a passion Beck hadn't felt since leaving the teaching profession 13 years prior.
Beck’s friends, seeing the fire burn in his eyes, encouraged him, "Dude, you have got to be doing something like that for a living!" Beck, though, was making more money than he had ever dreamed of making as a teacher and was leading a good life. How could he leave? Could happiness and fulfillment be found outside headhunting? And could the creative excitement of staging events be married to one of his many other passions?
Beck was about to go crazy, but a sudden, romantic thought then struck him: He'd go back to one of his first loves...
Barely nine months later, Killer 'B' was born.
Killer 'B's arrival was heralded by the first Mile High Match Play Madness at Celebrity Sports Center, an 80-lane family entertainment center built by Walt Disney. Though just an infant, Killer B's flair for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary was already seen in its very first steps, as it offered participants in the inaugural event the following perks:
- Round-trip airfare for two to sultry and sunny Acapulco, awarded to the tournament’s high qualifier
- Round-trip airfare for two to the tropical paradise of Hawaii, awarded to a lucky spectator
- An entry into the PBA's Celebrity Denver Open national tour stop, awarded to the Match Play Madness champion
- Dexter SST bowling shoes, as a special bonus prize for squad leaders
- The industry’s latest bowling balls, given to the top bowlers not advancing to match play
- Free $10 gasoline certificates from Conoco for fifty non-winners to help with the trip back home
- A tournament after-party catered by Hooters, featuring Beck's beer (this was an adult event, after all!)
- A whopping $10,000 cash bonus for rolling a perfect 300 game, claimed by PBA member Henry Gonzales!
Killer ‘B’s first event, though, wasn’t designed to just be a mere one-night stand. No, this was the culmination of a series of profound moments in Beck’s past, the reunion of two lovers once parted, now forever bound.
Beck's initial fling with the sport of bowling started, as so many romances do, in the midst of summer in 1966. Alas, it wasn’t made to be, at least not then. One might even say both parties weren’t ready for that level of commitment.
Only 13 at the time and inexperienced in matters of the heart, Beck was mowing lawns for a “living” – and only made his first visit to the local 10-lane center to escape the scorching mid-day heat and humidity. As Beck would soon learn, though, bowling was indeed a powerful and fickle woman, capable of breaking his heart just as easily as she had lured him in.
Surprisingly, Beck flirted with breaking 100 his very first game, and his daily routine soon included at least 3 games of bowling, if not a dozen. He had some natural talent, and by the end of the summer, he found himself being asked the sport’s version of “want to go steady?” when the proprietor invited him to join the youth league.
His heart raced as he furiously peddled his bike to the center for his first formal date with organized bowling, and he eagerly swung open the alley’s doors, but – alas! – his bowling beauty stood him up. Beck was the only kid to show up on the league’s designated day, and the league was promptly cancelled for lack of participation. His crush crushed, it would be five years before he would embrace the curves of a bowling ball again…
They say time heals all wounds, and Beck's first semester at college found him back on the lanes, enrolled in PE 124, Golf & Bowling. After only a few weeks together again, the flirting became more and more serious. Sparks – and pins – flew. The physical education course led to a tryout invitation for the intercollegiate team; the tryout led to a spot on the team’s 10-man roster; and four years later, Beck swept the NAIA's national collegiate championships, earning gold in team, doubles, singles and all-events.
His astounding collegiate performance also resulted in an invitation to the 3rd U.S. Team Trials, and Beck then became the first college bowler to earn a berth on an American FIQ squad headed to the world championships. He backed up his bona fides, too, snaring a silver medal in London in 1975.
Returning to the good ole’ U.S. of A from his two romantic weeks spent in Paris and London, Beck, his head spinning and his spirit soaring, longed to take his almost fitful relationship to the next level. In a move calculated to bring them closer, Beck relocated, accepting a contract to teach ninth-grade science in the suburbs of St. Louis in the Rockwood School District. He figured teaching not only suited his love of kids, but also would allow him to bowl on weekends and during the summer months.
But the increased commitment immediately faced a new challenge. This was bowling all grown up, and his love was no longer the cheap date she had been when he was 13. Seeing each other on a weekly basis required the financial commitment of practice, travel expenses and tournament entry fees, all significantly higher and harder to come by than the bright-eyed young man initially expected. So Beck struggled mightily out of the gate. The pressure that came with needing to roll a clutch strike for his college or country was one thing, it seemed, but the pressure of needing to win back all the grocery money spent on entry fees was an entirely different beast.
Sure, Beck had a few flashes of brilliance – leading the first PBA Regional event he ever bowled in – but in his mind, he was not living up to expectations. His teaching career, though flourishing on the personal and professional levels – Beck was elected President of the Rockwood teacher association and was named Missouri’s Science Teacher of the Year, - was simply not able to support the cost of sustaining a meaningful relationship with bowling. "After five years chasing a dream, it was time to hang ‘em up. A career change plus the consequent relocation to Denver were the last nails in the romance’s coffin.”
As you already know, though, it is in Denver that our story comes full-circle. Picking up a bowling ball only on rare occasions – although he did win the 1990 Team USA eliminator in Colorado – Beck’s primary focus in Denver was in the corporate world, until he finally got the full-blown bowling itch again. The rest, of course, is history.
The positive response to the Mile High Match Play Madness led Beck to do what he couldn't do before: make a total commitment. He closed down his recruiting practice and gave bowling his all. Before long, the Madness wasn’t an only child. Consumer promotions such as the “Chevrolet Bowl Up A Storm,” and professional competitions like the PBA Rocky Mountain Senior Classic soon followed.
Fueled by success, the family rapidly grew. Killer 'B' even ‘adopted’ a few events, including the AMF Dick Weber Classic, the Brunswick World Tournament of Champions, and the US Open. Outside the tournament sphere, Beck even worked with MTV to put a bowling lane on the set of the MTV Malibu Beach House so that Jenny McCarthy and the cast of Baywatch could bowl during televised segments.
Beck then raised the bar on excitement when he designed and staged the PBA’s first all-match play competition, the Battle At Little Creek, a week-long event held inside Rockwell Hall on the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base.
Little Creek’s Rockwell Hall Before Killer ‘B’
Rockwell Hall After Killer ‘B’
He followed that showcase for men’s bowling with a showcase for the ladies, creating the USBC Women’s Challenge, staged in the glamorous Fashion Show mall on the famous Las Vegas Strip!
Please click here to see the Women’s Challenge Promotional Video
But, if asked which his favorite is, Beck would have to confess that the Teen Masters is the event nearest and dearest to his heart. After all, it is the Teen Masters that has allowed Beck to marry the creative excitement of staging events with two of his strongest passions: bowling and kids!
To learn how the Teen Masters started and has grown over the years, click here.