Parente competed for various promotions throughout his career, including NWA Mid-America, NWA Western States, Championship Wrestling from Florida, Jim Barnett's World Championship Wrestling, NWA Tri-State and the WWF.
Parente was born March 16, 1935 in the small village of Chieti, one of five sons born to parents Antonio and Rosaria Parente. He moved to the United States in 1959 to pursue professional that same year, wrestling under his real name and as "Pancho López", primarily in the Amarillo, Texas territory. As Pancho López, he won the NWA North American Heavyweight Championship two times in 1960, defeating Gene LeBell and Mike DiBiase respectively. Soon thereafter he formed a tag team called "Continental Warriors" with Bobby Hart, under the ring names "Mephisto and Dante". It was to be a pairing that would last on-and-off for most of his career. They had their first taste of success as a tag team in the early 1960s, winning the NWA Mid-America Tag Team Championship on numerous occasions, feuding with the likes of Lester Welch and Jackie Fargo. They would go to win the titles six times.
Parente feuded with Danny Hodge in Arkansas and Oklahoma in the mid-1960s. He defeated Hodge on November 23, 1965 to win his first NWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to Hodge on January 4, 1966 before winning it back on January 14 to become a two-time champion. On December 3, 1968, Parente and Hodge won the NWA Tri-State Tag Team Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
By 1966, Parente was travelling throughout the National Wrestling Alliance. He became a mainstay with Championship Wrestling from Florida and on December 24, 1967 he captured the NWA World Tag Team Championship with Paul DeMarco, defeating Kurt and Skull Von Stroheim. They went on to capture the titles for the second time the following year on January 16, defeating Terry and Ron Garvin in Tampa, Florida. That same year, he won the NWA Tri-State Tag Team Championship with former adversary Danny Hodge, on December 3.
Having held tag titles with him previously, Parente claimed tag team gold with Bobby Hart once again in 1969, this time capturing the NWA World Tag Team Championship in Mid-America. The team found great success as a heel pairing, using underhand tactics to achieve victory, including the use of foreign objects. They would go on to capture numerous regional and world tag team titles together as The Continental Warriors, holding the NWA World Tag Team Championship six times and winning regional tag titles throughout the United States including the tag titles of NWA Mid-America, Championship Wrestling from Florida, NWA Western States and the NWA United States Tag Team Championship in NWA Mid-America and Tri-State. They also captured the NWA Tennessee Tag Team Championship, defeating Don & Ron Wright in May 1973. Southern wrestling legend Jerry Lawler remarked in his autobiography that Tennessee "had some of the best tag team goings at the time", with the top teams often in the feature matches. He describes Parente and Hart as "main event caliber guys who had been in the business a long time".