Throughout the past two decades, there has always been a hero for the United States cause. A man who every child looks up to as the American Hero we all strive to find within us. This gentleman named Hacksaw Jim Duggan has been the good guy throughout most of his career. I would like to thank Jim Duggan for this interview. It was a privilege to conduct this interview. I would also like to welcome him back anytime for another interview. Thank you, Jim. Also everyone check out his website
So sit back and enjoy this very special interview with Jim Duggan. And thank you.
Lekisha Oliver (Belle Of The Brawl): Thank you for doing this interview. Personally I like to let people know the person behind the persona. I'd like to talk with you about your wife and your children.
Hacksaw Jim Duggan (HacksawDuggan.com): Sure. I have two little girls age six and seven, Celia and Rebecca. I've lived on the space coast of Florida for eleven years. My wife, Debra, and I have been together for 17 years now. We have a dog, two cats, and a tank full of fish.
LO: Sounds like you have a full house there.
LO: Do your children do any arts or dance?
JD: They are in gymnastics. That's all they are in at such a young age.
LO: Don't want to overload them. Let's jump over to your accomplishments from your younger years. Your bio lists several incredible accomplishments. Which do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments and why?
JD: Well, I think the one that had the greatest impact in my life was getting out of Glen Falls, New York, and going to Dallas, Texas, to college and play college football. That opened a lot of doors for me. That's what made the biggest impact on my life. But, professionally, probably the most outstanding moment would be wrestling Andre the Giant in the main event at Madison Square Garden.
LO: I was going to ask you about that one. Why do you consider that as your greatest match?
JD: Well of course Andre was one of the biggest names in professional wrestling, next to Hogan. And a main even and at the Garden is the pinnacle of professional wrestling, no matter what organization.
LO: Why did you choose to go to Texas for college instead of staying closer to home?
JD: They did a real good job of recruiting me. One of the coaches came to Glen Falls for about two weeks. My mom and my dad thought it would be a good opportunity to start playing football as a freshman.
LO: Sounds like you had a good time with all the championships there.
JD: Yeah, it was a great opportunity. I met and still have a lot of friends there and that's where I got my start in pro wrestling. I met Fritz Von Erich. That's when I tried pro wrestling.
LO: So Fritz was the one who brought you in?
JD: Fritz is the guy that broke me in. After my knee surgery with the Atlanta Falcons, I knew I had no future in professional football. So I gave Fritz a call and went down to the old Sportatorium Arena in Dallas. Gary Hart gave me my first pair of trunks and boots and I learned the ropes. One night someone didn't show up and I had my first match against Gino Hernandez. And that was off and running.
LO: With you being in college, what did you major in?
LO: Sociology. You wanted to be a sociologist?
JD: Well, I wanted to stay eligible to play ball. Back then you had to keep your grades up to be eligible. I enjoyed sociology a little bit but that way I could concentrate on football.
LO: Well the sociology helped during your wrestling career?
JD: No. I don't think so. Not too much. A lot of people don't know that wrestling is a learned trade. Some of these young guys come on and you can tell they are not polished. What some don't realize is how competitive it can be. I've learned the business and interviews are part of the game. To be better is through repetition. So wrestling is a learned art.
LO: Who came up with your persona or does it stem from your personality?
JD: Well, Hacksaw is kinda an extension of my whole personality, especially from back in the old days when I had a few sociable cocktails. So that's the way some of the best gimmicks are if they come from their personality. Like Macho Man came from Randy Savage's personality. The same way with Hulk Hogan and he being part of Terry Bollea's personality. But that's what worked for me.
LO: What about the 2x4. Where did that come from?
JD: Well, in wrestling there were so many guys with feathers and sequins that I came across as a working man so it showed that there wasn't anything fancy about Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Just the flag of the United states of America and my 2x4. So it worked well for me.
LO: That's kind of been your staple over the past several years. JD: Yeah, it sure has. I'm surprised I've been able to carry it over the past several years. I know guys, especially the pretty-boy type guys that get older and grow out of their character and turn into a hairy old guy. Even at my age now, I appeal to a lot of folks.
LO: A lot of columnists on our website grew up watching you.
JD: I really had a good run and I really enjoyed professional wrestling and a lot of people asked if I'd give it up, I'm not sure if I'll give it up soon. I just really enjoy being in the ring.
LO: Have you considered going back with the new-WCW?
JD: I haven't actually talked with Vince (McMahon) up there. But I left the WWF under good terms. Their work schedule is so demanding that I haven't had a chance to speak with him. But if I go back it won't be as a wrestler with their schedule. Maybe in another capacity. I think what probably would happen is that somebody will fill the void that the WCW has left due to them being absorbed by the WWF. In other words, I think another company could be starting up pretty soon with more family-like entertainment that the gestures and the profanity that are in Vince's shows. There are so many people, like my grandmother, who watched wrestling her whole life that doesn't watch it anymore because of how it's changed. I think this company will offer an alternative to Vince's show.
LO: You're speaking of the rumors of Terry Bollea starting his own federation.
JD: Well, that's definitely one of the biggest rumors. A lot of people have their fingers crossed. That's the main one. There are one or two more out there that are trying to get the financial backing to get started. But I think there is a market for it.
LO: True. Especially after all the PTC stuff with Vince, I'm surprised that someone else hasn't come along sooner.
JD: Yeah. Vince is the master. I have nothing bad to say about Vince. He's similar to others in other business, like the movie or the music businesses, you have to be strong. That's the nature of the business.
LO: I've spoken with your buddy Bill, or Hugh Morrus, and he said that you two have been playing a lot of golf, who's the better golfer, you or Hugh?
JD: He's the much better golfer, and he got me playing golf. I like to shoot handguns, so I got him shooting guns. So now I go to the driving range and he goes to the gun range because we started to enjoy each other's hobbies so much.
LO: So it sounds like you two made a very good friendship out of this business.
JD: Yeah. Ironically both of us live in the same small town, his wife and my wife are friends and his two little girls are friends with my two little girls. So it worked out well.
LO: When you were back in the WCW, you came back from cancer. Can you tell me about that experience?
JD: It was without question the most terrifying experience of my life. I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a family and it was devastating. One in three people are diagnosed with some form of cancer. I had developed kidney cancer at such a young age, it was a very tough time with the family. Thanks to the Lord and early detection, I was blessed to come back to wrestling.
LO: So they caught the cancer early enough that it didn't spread?
JD: Of course with cancer, you're never sure. You have to go back for checkups four times a year. The don't consider you cancer-free until five years after your diagnosis. And it will be three years in September. It's something that is always there in our minds.
LO: What are your future plans?
JD: I've been talking to a lot of folks about wrestling over in England. We're working on a tour that may be going around in August or September. England seems to be a hot bed of wrestling. It's going to have Earthquake, the Bushwackers, some of the WWF talent from the heyday. That really seems to be an upcoming event for us. I talked with most of those folks to strike a deal, but it's hard to go away from home for two to three weeks. That's a long time to be away from the family. So, we're trying to work out a situation, hopefully we'll get it figured out.
LO: A lot of people miss seeing you and your charisma was incredible.
JD: Yeah, WCW never really used me correctly. I came across with Hogan, Jimmy Hart, and those guys. I even beat Austin for the US title. But. Bischoff was looking for more high flyers. He was wanting to get away from the body men and the brawlers. They always kept me on a contract which was good. And, I had a real long run with the WCW. But it always amazed me that my fans were always there, even when I hadn't been featured on TV for a long time.
LO: I truthfully think that you were one of the ones who actually made an impression while you were still there. My generation pretty much grew up with you.
JD: Yeah, it was just like Hogan's deal. A lot of people grew up watching Hogan, Macho Man, Bret Hart, Piper and that set and there is still an appetite for it.
LO: Definitely. Everybody wants to go back to their childhood while they still can.
JD: Thank goodness. I think that guys like Hogan and myself, people can see that we enjoy being in the ring. You can tell I'm having a good time out there going HOOO! and USA! and they are all hollering. That always makes me feel good.
LO: Stories of the road, everyone has one. Do you have any funny stories you would like to share?
JD: Yeah, there are a lot of stories from the road. But let's get a quick one here. For instance, Jake The Snake Roberts was in my wedding and I've known Jake for many, many years, of course he's going through some personal problems now. But back in the WWF days he would travel with Damien, the snake, all the time and he kept the snake in the duffel bag and we just put it in the back seat of the car.
Well, Jake and I were running late for a show, as usual, to some town in Texas and the snake always tried to get out of the bag. One time the bag wasn't tied tight enough and the snake got out of the bag. I looked in the rear-view mirror and behind me was the head of this 120-pound python. So I slammed on the brakes and slid into a convenience store where two old-timers were sitting on the porch. Both Jake and I got out of the car and jumped into the back of the car and wrestled the snake back into the bag and put him back into the back seat and drove off. So those guys are probably still wondering what happened.
LO: That would have scared me to death.
JD: I traveled with Jake a lot and you got used to the snake. You actually started to feel sorry for the snake. It was a tough life for the snake, he lived in a bag and you'd be thrown out in front of all those people in the middle of the arena.
A lot of times it would be hard to wrestle after Jake because the snake would be so terrified being in front of all those people and being thrown around and all the bright lights and a lot of times he'd poop all over the ring and you'd be covered in snake poo after the next match.
LO: That is so disgusting. (Laughs).
JD: Yeah, it was, but that's wrestling.
LO: That's true. Speaking of the show going on, what do you think of the caliber of the shows that Vince is putting out over the past couple of years?
JD: The whole business has changed especially over the past two or three years. Wrestling has become a television show about wrestling, kind of like Bay Watch is a show about lifeguards and the ocean except this has wrestlers and a ring. It's just gotten so far away from what it was in the late 80s and the early 90s. It's changed a lot. The numbers are still there, but they are dropping from what I hear. They are starting to be more like when they were competing with WCW.
LO: That's when the ratings were the highest was when Eric (Bischoff) and Vince (McMahon) were playing off of each other.
JD: Yeah with the NWO. That's when they were the best.
LO: Now if you look at the ratings it's kind of like they, the WWF, have plateued, especially if you look over the past couple of weeks, the ratings have come up a little bit, but they had around September for the startup date for WCW.
JD: Yeah, that will give a lot of guys a chance to work.
LO: True. A lot of people are sitting around and getting tired.
JD: Which isn't a bad deal. A few years ago that wasn't unheard of. That is one good thing that came with WCW was the advent the contracts under rank and file for pro wrestling.
A lot of guys have contracts that just a few years ago wouldn't get paid if they got hurt. That's a good change because as time goes on wrestlers will become more organized and maybe get a retirement plan and, hopefully, some health benefits because this is a tough business.
LO: But you're in favor of a union?
JD: Well, if it was a straight union like football players or maybe get their own SAG, Screen Actors Guild, care like movie stars. Race car, or NASCAR drivers, are the same deal. They are independent contractors and if they can't perform, they are on their own. They have nothing to fall back on and I think that the idea will be something to think on as time moves on.
I've been wrestling for 22 years and I've had a great career, but after four or five years and after that your body is broken up and you have no where else to go.
LO: And then trying to go back and trying to recapture that experience all over again.
JD: Well, yeah, and a lot of people aren't physically able to go back again.
LO: Do you have any extra comments or anything to say to the fans who read this?
JD: Of course I always want to thank everyone who made everything possible. I would like to thank everyone for their support during my cancer ordeal through all the letters and e-mail and stuff like that. I just hope that folks keep an eye out for the new wrestling organization to start up because they are the ones who decide if it will work or not due to the dollars that they spend on the show. Hopefully, we'll have an alternative to Vince's show. But never say never about going back to him he's still the Kingpin. I think there's always the possibility of going back to him.
LO: Thank you for doing this.
JD: Thank you.