ROBERT WHITING/RICHARD BEYER A.K.A. DESTROYER INTERVIEW
Feb 29, 1980 Buffalo, New York (Also Present:Greg Davis, Photographer)
TAPE 1 SIDE A
Q: How did you wind up in Japan?
A: By being in the right place at the right time. I became the world’s heavyweight champion of the WWA which was the World Wide Alliance, in Los Angeles, in September 1962. And I defended my title in Japan in May of 1963 against Rikidozan. And I beat Rikidozan once in Osaka, in a figure four leg lock. Then we went to a draw in Tokyo, before the largest crowd then and since, that watched a match live was in Sendaygaya, was 60,000, it was outside. And they say the rating on television was like 90%, of course at that time they didn’t many—national—it was on Channel 4, NTV. They had NHK and NTV/ I didn’t know how many stations they had, but They got pictures of that match, with a lot of people like in train stations, outside, in front of stores, watching on television. That was in May, and I only went over for a week. I went back again in December, and that time I wrestled him on December…I was on tour. I had a couple of tag team matches with him. The one single match for the championship, ended in an outside-the-ring count out. Two nights later, we wrestled a six-man tag team match in Omatsu (This must be Hammamtsu) a stop on the Shinkansen, between Tokyo and Osaka. It was a Thursday night. Friday night I had to leave for the States and I had to pick up my money which I hadn’t got yet, then go to the airport, fly to Anchorage, then go to Portland. And I had to wrestle the same night, in Portland.
Q: Jet lagged?
A: That never really bothered me that much….But that night, they called me at my hotel. The Dai-Ichi, at the time, and to go from there to Rikidozan’s steak house, at Riki Sports Palace. And he had a night club. He had the world by the balls. So, he wasn’t there. I don’t know where he is. I couldn’t find him. The it was 6 o’clock, then 7 o’clock. When I found him he was in a party, one of these Japanese type parties, must have been 50 people, and tables. It was in Akasaka somewhere I think. Riki called me. He knew two words. Cocksukka. Sonnabeech. He knew Mazzafucker too. Well anyway, So he chased all the people out, except one sumo wrestler, by the name of Togo, Great Togo. We sat there drinking chug a lug, Korean rot got, then a beer, then a sake. Now it is 8 o’clock I had to go back to my hotel, pick up my bag and go to Haneda, by 9 o’clock and you know what it would be like going out there on the shuto (freeway). So to make a long story short.. It’s an hour..
He’s stay over night. We drink. Get girls. I say no, I got to go. So we got the office and I get paid./ I say how we can’t go out in Tokyo together.. We supposed to be big enemies. Riki says, no Japanese people understand,. We have tough match. But now I say we friends. We shake hands. We are friends.
I say no, I gotta go. I got to wrestle in Portland…tonight. So he was really loaded, already, cuz he had probably been drinking all day at this party. …He yelled, “get out at these wrestlers” they all ran. But they respected him. They cried when he died. He would get them in a circle and make them do a thousand squats. Two thousand squats.
But he rushed me me out. He got my money. They rushed me to Haeda. I got on the plane, went to Portland. Got there, my wife showed me the evening paper, Rikidozan got stabbed. I said “No way.” I got home, I made a long distance call to Tokyo, right. 4 or 5 days later he died of peritonitis. What’s bad, they say, is he drank a glass of milk, went through his stomach into his …
So that night, if I look into my crystal ball.
Rikidozan was the one who built up professional wrestling from nothing.All by myself.
Q: Did you go drinking the night before with Riki?
A: No, we wrestled the night before he was stabbed, in Hamamatsu?
And the day he got stabbed, I don’t know, and hour or two…I left at 8 o’clock, he went to the Latin Quarter, by the Hotel New Japan there. That might have been 9:30-10 o’clock at night….No, I didn’t…I just went to that place to get my money. I saw him. That was the first time I ever talked to him. Other than the fact that he was in one dressing room and I was in another. He would send messages back and forth. Bring the American boys some cold beer have it in the dressing room when the matches are over. The senior American personnel makes the demand and he will meet them. (some gibronie,?garbled)
So when he died, that elevated me three steps higher. I was the only American wrestler who had ever gone to Japan and had beaten Rikidozan. I went back in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and on through 1972. Around 1970, Inoki went out and formed his own group, splitting away from Japan’s one big organization in Japan,. Japan Pro Wrestling.
First of all a fella by the name Yoshihara, he moved out and formed Kokusai Professional Wrestling. The Inoki went out and formed a group, but it folded. So he came back and then he went out again and formed New Japan Pro-Wrestling. And then Giant Baba wasn’t too happy w/ Japan Pro Wrestling and so he went out and formed Zen Nihon Pro Wrestling which is all Japan Pro-Wrestling. And finally, there was no big star to bring along, they had Sakaguchi and Oki Kintaro, but they weren’t big enough stars to hold up Japan pro wrestling. SO now, not completed folded, but they have no wrestlers, but they do have some talent, a fellow by the name of Sato, Yoshi Mosasa, he promotes Japan Pro Wrestling, that’s the old original group of Rikidozan. Then you have Inoki who is with New Japan, and then Shin Nihon, with Baba which is the company I work for. In October of 1972, he formed his own group. I went over on his second tour. All he had was Giant Baba,.nothing else. And so I went over there and gave him an offer he didn’t refuse. I would come and work for him for one year and I would join his group,. It would be him and I against the Americans and I would wrestle as a Japanese. So that was in December 1972. So I went over in June and I stayed there for all the tours./; He had a tour in December. He had a tour in January. March. And in June I took my family over we stayed one year. And that is what got me to Japan. I joined. And that was my first popularity.
The second popularity came with the television shows. Uwasa No Channel. That is what made me, to a point where if you asked any Japanese, I don’t care what age group or how old they are, if they knew Destroyer, they know the Destroyer, they do.
Q: So you stayed in Japan for six years after that?
A: Right. I was only supposed to stay for one year. But at the end of one year, Uwasa no Channel was the “#1 Rated show on television.; And that was on Channel 4. And Giant Baba had his wrestling on Channel 4 and Zen Nihon Pro Wrestling are one and the same, almost. Baba gets money from NTV for his wrestling show being on Television and is more or less a sponsor, so I was working for that group. And they asks Will you stay another year,. So I stay another year and the show was still rated high. And then a third year. And a fourth year. The 4th year, my son was a sophomore in high school and he wanted to finish school. So I said if I stay any longer, I have to have a contract for two years. And that is why I stayed another two and that made six years.
Q* What did you start wearing the mask, from in Japan?
A* No, I put the mask on in California. ..I wrestled 8 years as Dick Beyer and I had my own personality. I was a Syracuse University football coach for 9 years there. In 1961, I went ot Honolulu and wrestled at Hula Bowl game and a promoter from AL sawq me and aid we want you to come to LA Told me they were going to put a mask on me. Said you going to get all this publicity. I had just come out with the PR pamphlet, full color, photo of me, Dick Beyer, etc, up and coming star. . HE said we don’(t care about that. We are going to put a mask on you. Bill you as the Destroyer. I bitched for two days. Then he said, ok, try it for a month. If you don’t like it, we will take it off. So after I was there for five weeks, my income tripled. This was April. And then I beat Freddie Blassie in August and September for the world title. And that is when I telephoned Syracuse and told them I wouldn’t be back for football season. That was in September. And I am still on the mask,.
Then after a year and a half, they wanted to take it off, because the people wanted to know who was under the mask. And I said, not tonight. And I have never taken ti off.
Q: You have an advanced degree?
A: Yes, I have a master’s degree in education.
Q; Coaching football?
A: Yes, my graduate year, I was a graduate assistant. Went to graduate school. I had a dormitory of 24 football players, which gave me my room and board and my tuition was paid for by coaching the freshman football team. For that freshman team, they recruited 25. And they still had 24 in the fall. Usually they had a drop out rate of 30% They figured my influence on these boys was good and they asked me to come back. I was already wrestling professionally, because I stayed there. I started in October and I went back for the freshman season.,I stayed August, September. Freshman season ends. IT has only got 6 games. Became a pro wrestler. Then in 1955, they asked me back again in Albany…This is where I had to make more as far as money was concerned. Now I was wrestling professionally at Dick Beyer. SO I stayed there, September, October, November. AND December. And this went on through 1961. January through August, I would go on the road wrestling….I was a line coach, on defense, primarily w/ freshman, but, there was not a difference, I was varsity coach when we went out on the field in that I was the all opponents coach. I run the plays against the varsity.
(Interview w/ wrestler. He get mad at you? Only natural. We pulled a lot of stuff on him.)
A: So a friend of mine who had recruited me to go to Syracuse, over 65, his son is basketball coach at Amherst, so they knew I coached at Akron and didn’t have a lot to do on the side, but I kind of stayed around Buffalo because of my daughter., so they called me and I had a meeting w/ this kid and one other boy and that was the nucleus of the wrestling team, and this year there is more kids in this tournament than the school every had. We had three. It’s been good for me.
Q: You wrestle in high school?
A: No I started wrestling my sophomore year in college. I wrestled vs. Lehigh and got beat, and Portland and and wrestled in national collegiate tourney and got beat my first match, then I came to Buffalo here and Syracuse district meet and placed third in it and got a medal. ((garbled)….got a little recognition to get me going, Wrestled my senior year in college and that helped make me a better football player and I got to be captain of the football team. I went to Syracuse on a football scholarship. I was a guard, a running guard. I was a run of the mill 5’10” 210 pound guard….At that time it was an average sized guard. In college football. Today, they would not have uniforms small enough for me. In college, I was third in the nationals which was my junior year, I beat a guy who was on the 1948 Olympic team. And my graduate school I wrestled, wnet to the national AAU finals in Austin. 2nd Place in Eastern inter-collegiates. Not bad for not having wrestled in HS. So for the experience I had I did considerably well. My coach is going to be inducted into the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, named is Joe McDaniels, AAU from Oklahoma.
Q: How did you do when you turned pro. What kind of records did you have?
A: I don’t remember. Foolishly, a lot of times it isn’t whether you win or lose, it is how much money you are making. That’s the name of the game same in football, basketball or ice hockey. If you are on a losing team and making a hell of a salary, you don’t care.
SO you can be in a certain area of the country that is drawing a lot of money—for eg,. You can be a preliminary wrestler, in Minneapolis and make more money than you could be wrestling the main event in, say, Seattle or Spokane. For. Eg if I were in main event in Buffalo, I wouldn’t make anything. There’s no wrestling here right now. But up in Toronto there is,that is why I am …last show in Toronto, we did a $39,000 house. I was on the main event vs. Dewy Robertson. So it matters where you are. You can make more money be losing in one area than you can by winning in another. What kind of a contract you can sign. Myself, …like I said, I went to Honolulu and I was in the right place at the right time.b Guy from AL happened to see me wrestling, brought me to LA. We gonna put a mask on you. At that time, AL Olympic Auditorium was the biggest name in the country. 1953…Olympic was wrestling coast-to-coast. In Japan they thought that MSGS was nothing compared to the Olympic. So I went there and I doubled, tripled my income, with my maskl on. IT was a big step for me, with the mask on. And the expenses were very cheap. If you make $15,000 a week in New York, You have to spend $8,000 to make it. You have to spend overnight hotel in NY, then you got o drive to Boston, then Phildelphi, big expense. Minneapolis, Minneapolis, I averaged over $1,000 for four years, Lesser epenses. So it is not how much you make, it is what you hve left at the end of the year. Little territory like Portland Ortegon, , you make $30,000 at the end of the year you got $25,000 left. In Meannpolis, you make $50,000, you only got $30,000 left. You are on the road all the time. You might as well be in a smaller territory making less money and enjoying your family. was the MSG of the country.
Q: One thing I don’t understand about professional wrestling, is that every time I turn around there is a different world champion.
A: This came about with the advent of television. This is why you see in pro-football, 4 leagues now, used to be two, cuz they wanna see a champion of each league so that they can have playoffs. Used to be the National Wrestling Alliance, out of St. Louis, this champion went around. And there was only one alliance. More people are watching wrestling. They want to see the champion, but the champion can’t be all over the place. This group in New York, they say the hell w/ you, we will form our own alliance. SO they make their own alliance and make their own world champion. And this champion services the whole east coast. SO Vern Gagne and Wally Carbo up in Minneapolis, they say, that’s a good idea, so they form their own alliance too. So you got the American Wrestling Alliance, you got the National Wrestling Alliance and you got the World Wrestling Alliance, promoted out of LA, and he said all his people went to Honolulu Japan, etc., and were recognized by more people than all the others put together. 00 million people in US at that time, 100 million in Japan. But that belt, the one I won in California was recognized by more people…so that’s the reason you see so many world champion. People demand to see the champion. If you can’t show the people a champion, they don’t come.
Q: How many times have you won a world championship?
A: 3 times and 3 times I lost it. The same time. I won it in 63, lost it in Jan 64, went to Oregon, for six months, came back to LA, won it again, took that belt up to Oregon, went to Japan with it, Toyonobori, went back to LA, lost to Pedro Morales, back again in 65, beat Dick the Bruiser for the title. Went to 1965, lost it to cowboy Bob Ellis. By then I had been in LA area for three years, that means you are wrestling every week in LA or SaN Bernadino or San Diego, Long Beach, and being there ev.ery week, 5-6 matches a week, Pasadena Monday, Long Beach Tuesday, Olympic Wednesday, Bakersfield Thursday, San Diego Friday and San Bernadino Saturday, Sunday we would fly up or drive up for a TV show on Sunday, then every bother week we would do Las Vegas on Monday., outside, in summertime, drive back to Los Angeles, I wrestled an average over my career about 200 matches a year, ..so I have wrestled over 5,000 matches. That’s a lot of packing and unpacking suitcases. 4 times a day, at hotel, motel, at gymnasium.., 6-8 sometimes. …Anyway, the popularity of the Destroyer goes down, so much exposure. I was there for 6 years, I had to get out. So I told Bob I was leaving. I will get out for 6-8 months and when I come back, they will say Destroyer is coming back.
Q: What was the name of your title alliance again?
A: WWA. World Wide Alliance. Jules Strongbow was the matchmaker and promoter. He gave me the name Destroyer,.Got there on a Thursday, Fri a..,, he says you wrestle in San Diego as Destroyer. I said where in hell you get that name,. He said, we think about that later. I say, I don’t even have a mask, he says Dick Christie will bring one. Got there, damndest mask I ever saw, one piece, wool, pull down over my head, kind of like a swimmer’s wet suit. Over the top, down underneath my crotch, supposed to button. It had mothballs all through it and I felt like a bum. And a fella by the name of Ox Anderson as on the card, from Salt Lake City, and he had a mask in his bag made out of a woman’s girdle. SO he let me have it, I wore it the next night, fit over the top, tight on the bottom. So I went to Woolworth, to the women’s undergarment department, got a panty girdle with garter belt attachments, so I went there w/ my wife and I tried on girdle, over the top of my head and found out that I took a small tall. Wife went home, good seamstress, cut eye holes out, came out w/ this design, which I have had since then. People say change design, I say no, I changed color, white, red, green black, blue brown , coordinate with same color tights and white shoes, so when people see that mask they know it is the Destroyer–not the Masked Marvel, not Miel Mascaras-. It is an instant identity.
Q: What was your first match in Japan like?
A: I wrestled Rikidozan. I went there specifically for the world’s title. That was my first match. I got there, it was the tail end of the championship carnival, I went to Osaka, then Tokyo. And I was very nervous. In that AI didn’t know what to expect. I was brought up, I was 11 years old when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and I was aware of the Japanese fighting against Americans and I didn’t know how they were going to treat me, even though I had met many Japanese prior to going to Japan. But being over there, when I got there, I felt nothing, in regards to the war, and I never have. Nobody’s ever asked me any questions. When I was there, last year, when I was on FEN, I was asked, “Do you realize that 66% of the people that are born now were born after the war and that there is only 33% of the people, were born before the war. Same in the US. Giant Baba remembers when he was a little kid, in the hills of Nigata. Baba is about three or four years younger than I am. But her remembers going out in the hills and seeing Tokyo being bombed, that far away.
Q: How about in the ring? What were the fans like compared to what you saw in the States?
A: Very receptive to talent. They didn’t like me, but they applauded me as a wrestler, that fact that they respected me as a wrestler, and this is the way that the Japanese are with most sports. They are not the rowdy type of crowds that you will see at any sporting event in—other than baseball, they cheer more at baseball then we do in US—(except in Japan, it is organized cheering and only in the oendan)…SO the J. fans, you go to a wrestling match, I can pull hair, I can kick, knee drop, stomp, and they …in the States, they go wild…..But when a Japanese starts to do something, they will react. A little bit. But still not to the extent that they do in America. But what they do respect is that .,.J./ fans are very aware of American wrestlers and they can tell the good from the bad…You can’t fool them. They don’t pay to see somebody that is not good.
Q: Has Japanese wrestling changed from the first time you went there?
A; Sure. Wrestlers are much better there now then they were when I first went in. They are exposed a lot more. When I first went there, none of the wrestlers—I take that back. Rikidozan had been to the States, for a short spell. LA, SFO, and he got some training, but he came from being a sumo wrestler, he was a sekiwake. He was tough. He had a lot of guts More so than any wrestler in Japan today. He was tough and rough and mean. That was like I say he used to beat the hell out of his wrestlers. He would get them in a circle and make them squat and do a thousand. Like he had a little branch or piece of tree in his hand and he would whack them with it if they didn’t do the exercises properly. I would have thought they would have cheered when he died. But they cried and they still talking about him. I don’t think you can pick up a wrestling magazine w/o seeing something about Riki in there. And he has been dead for 15 years.
Q: Did he fight dirty?
A: Mean. He fought mean,. He would kick, and he had a chop….that’s the way he lived and that’s the way he died. He used to sleep at night in his room w/ his feet to the sliding door, and hands, slept this way and underneath his pillow he had a briefcase loaded with American dollars. He had $30,000 with him all the time. And w/ it was a gun. Somebody opened the door he was up like this, and that is the way he lived. And that’s the way he died.; Even when he signed kids autographs, He wouldn’t even sign a kid’s autograph. He would be on a train platform and his shadow is coming down here, don’t cross his shadow. I’d say it is just a little kid, walking in the shadow. Riki whacks him.
A: Giant Baba was a little different. He doesn’t like kids. Cuz I know how he treats my young 11 year old. He is just a person who doesn’t like kids or babies around. Here are a lot of people like that, they don’t like kids. But he does like fans. He will sit there and sign autographs. Anotnio Inoki likes kids. He’s very good. Jumbo Tsuruta is the best of any. He is super with kids. Of course, he understand business. All these wrestlers. Inoki has been to the States. Tsuruta had been to the states. Tender is now here. The ones who are any good have all been to America. Might stay year or two years and learn the business and go back to Japan. SO that is why wrestling in Japan is much more popular, you got three groups going rather than one. They are all drawing and making money.
There is a lot more wrestling. They are bigger and stronger,.
A: Center Bill 6’3”..When I was in school the average college line weighed 200 pounds, the backfield weighed 190. Now, Syracuse offensive line is 240 pounds. And the backfield is 220. That is in 25 years.
Q: Has that changed in Japan too?
A: Oh, yeah. With wrestlers, with people. Just in 16 years. Their Diet has changed. When I first went there they ate a lot more raw fish a lot more rice. You could not find very many coffee shops or no MacDonald’s or anything like that. And if you went outside Tokyo or Osaka, it was always a Japanese ryokan. 90% of the time we were at a Japanese hotel, American wrestlers and eating Japanese food, and it was bad. Now, I could stay in a Ryokan every night. The average American wrestler doesn’t like it because they are not used to ti.
Q: What was this thing Riki ahd about his shadow? I could see if it was behind him but.
A: I don’t know. I saw this once. Went like this, Riki went whap. Somebody says he crossed his shadow. DK if it was that one particular time or what.
Q: I live in Riki Apartments by the way. I forgot to mention that but Momota is the widow,.
A: His son, Yoshi Momota is now in the States wrestling. He is in Amarillo. Riki’s wife’s son. No stepson. That’s Riki’s son. They have one child and that’s a daughter. He ahd two sons by two separate wives. The 3rd wife is the one who lives in Riki Apartments and runs it. You still live in Riki Apartments now?
Q: Yeah. Baba lives there. I live right underneath him. I herd thump, thump every ngith around midnight. He’s practicing….What kind of guy is he?
A: Easy going,. Treated me very well for six years. He was my boss. Never any trouble w/ him, never any arguments.
Q: Learning anything about wrestling from him?
A: No, I taught him. In fact, he got his start..,.he came here in to US in 1961. And a fellow here in Crystal Beach right across the border named Fred Atkinson, took him and trained him on the beach here. Then he came out to Los Angeles and he challenged me for the title. He came out and we had three matches. Went an hour twice, then third time 55 minutes and I beat him. And those 3 matches that he had drew capacity houses each time. $22,000 house at that time, that was big money. That was in 1962. I won the titrle in September, so it would have ben after that October, November, December, Jnauary, prior to him go back to Japan. At that time the title was very big in that area. Not recognized now. LA wrestling has gone down hill, very poorly promoted.
A: Then Giant Baba when he went back to Japanhe was just Giant Baba and he was working for Rikidozan, He got bigger cheers than Rikidozan and that didn’t go over too well with Rikidozan. He would take him and put guys on top of him. When I got Baba he was very proud man. But when I got to Japan for the Chamion Carnival, he was like a whipped dog, He was a whipped dog. He wouldn’t say nothing., He looked liked he had been whipped,. Riki just beat him down., He’d put him against all these wrestlers and they were kicking the hell out of him and the Americans were kicking the hell out of him. Riki would tell the Americans to kick the shit out of Baba because he was getting all these big cheers and Riki wanted to put him in his place. Because all this publicity from the world title and he came back to Japan and he would get all these cheers and so Riki would get in the ring and Riki didn’t like that.
A: Baba and I used to play a lot of golf together. Did a lot of traveling w/ him.
Q: How did you guys spend your free time?
A: We used to play cribbage a lot. I taught him how to play the game then I took his money from him. He got to be pretty good at it, seriously. And we never played any cards in the dressing room, we wouldn’t allow anything because that was strictly business, even though you get to dressing room at 6:30 and you don’t wrestle until 8:30, well that’s two hours, ,we k we have to train the young boys who fought I the preliminaries, m, watch them make sure their wrestling was good. Then we would work out ourselves.
After wrestling, at nighttime, Baba and I very seldom socialized, I would hit the little alleys in Japan, and I had a lot of friends in the towns. Baba never liked to go out. He didn’t like to be taken by the Japanese. In other words if he goes to a club, the bill …doubles and triples, go to cabaret or something, when you’re a celebrity. W/ me, I never had to pay anything. But it was the other way around with him see, I always had the mask on, in night clubs, everywhere. I wore the mask constantly in Japan.
Q: Didn’t it bother you having to wear the mask all the time?
A: No, not really. Only in August, in Tokyo, but not in Hokkaido.
Q: The fans in Japan want to know, do you sleep with your mask on?
A: No. Some J. mags wrote it up that and asked my wife if she had ever seen me w/o the mask. Ask me kids, same thing…,.got to the point I would give three or four different answers, just to confuse them….When the TV show was so hot I would do 3 or 4 interviews a week, newspaper publicity. I was always very nice. Till they ask me a question like “You married.” “How many kids?” Same question, ,,,I say ok forget it. If you’re going to do an interview on somebody do your research. It ahd been in magazines, countless times. For years, cuz of NYVGshow, Uwasa no Channel…AND THEY WOULD ASK MY WIFE, WANT TO TALK TO HER.My wife finally said, I never want an interview again Same questions.
Q: You said Jumbo Tsuruta is the nicest of them all?
A: Right now he is, cuz he is a college grad. On Olympic team. Good business mind. Knows where ..Inoki does some. Jumbo goes out, meets people, grabs girls, has a fan club. He is an extrovert. Baba is an introvert. A lot of Japanese are introverts. Stays by himself. Goes to certain places, like Hilton Hotel for lunch cuz nobody bothers him there,. He likes foreigners, sees a lot of Americans is more comfortable, where as I am an extrovert. I go out and, every town, some small club bro cabaret, cuz people want to see me out there. Guy who owns steakhouse at match invites me to dinner. Went with Jumbo Tsuruyta. all the time. Then meet someone at steak house who owns a club, got to the club, the next day take a train, go to next town, same thing. Jumbo understands you have to meet the people, get out there. Company sold $62 million worth of jeaqns after having ice hockey players wear them, girls see them wearing tight jeans. Just for giving away the jeans. It was on PBS.
Q: You know Inoki well?
A; (thinks) He is a super wrestler, a great competitor. Been out w/ him in Oregon in 1963, married to a girl up there ahd had a baby by her and then he went back to LA, and ended up getting a divorce, girl in Honolulu now, but I don’t thihink he ever gave any support the the baby..But as a wrestler and a person, right now…we were in Las Vegas together, and this one of few times I really socialized with him. Sohung around pool together in Las Vegas..So I don’t know him like I know Jumbo Tsuruta.
Q* Speak English?
A: They speak enough Eng. And I speak enough Japaense so that we can manage. Inoki speaks English, Jumbo speaks. Baba speak,. But they don’t speak it perfect. I can’t really carry on a converastaion in Japanese. First year, IU studied a lot, time, days, money, train schedules, then I was on Uwasa NO Channel., We had this scene we repeated all the time where Wada Akiko would tell me to say something and repeat it in Japaense. She would say it fast and I would never get it right and the people used to pee their pants laughing. So then it got to the point where it was to my advantage noty to learn. They said don’t learn any more Japanse. This was one little segment in the show where she would say haha so , Destroyer Baka gaijin, I didn’t know what Baka meant. Then I found out what it meant. but then I would was understanding here and it got to the point where it wasn’t funny anymore.
Q* How did you feel about that?
A: It wasn’t acting. I acted natural. They threw it at me, I grabbed it, rolled w/ the punches, etc. The only difference was I tried to explain it in my interviews, are you a comedian or are you a wrestler? I said both. On the show I am a comedian ,wrestling I am a wrestler.
TAPE 1 SIDE B
A: We started to get a whole new group of fans. Coming to watch wrestling who were watching Uwasa No Channel. And then when I walked in the ring, something would happen. And if I didn’t something that was the least bit funny, a wrestling move that was a little awkward that made the other guy fall down, a funny move, they would kind of giggle. It was a little big difficulty for the people, not for me, to keep the two separated. And every time I had an interview I would say there are two different people. The Destroyer and the Comedian. On Uwasa N Channel, I try to be funny.
Q: You saw the Inoki-Ali fight in 1976.
A: Yes. 50 wrestlers could have gone in an beaten Ali.
Q: That answers my next question, boxing vs. wrestling.
A: Oh, there is no comparison. If you really stop and analyze the situation. A wrestler is a complete person as far as an athlete, a more complete person than a karate man or a judoist. Because he goes for the leg and he goes for the upper body. Once I get my hands on you as long to keep you from hitting me, say if you are a karate guy , you are not going to hurt me. You get many one shot or two shots at me, you, then I get behind you, you kick me I will grab your leg. Same in judo, if I ain’t got no coat on you can’t grab me, so if you get a guy who is a boxer, he doesn’t know anything about wrestling, all he knows how to do is punch, once you get inside of him, …heck, I been hit a thousand times, kicked, I can take a punch, with an elbow punch, I can’t take one if Muhammed Ali is going to stand here and pummel me, sure he is going to knock my jock off, , but I am not gonna stand there and let him do it, .
Q: You ever fought a boxer?
A: Yes, many times. We get challenged a lot of times In Birmingham Alabama, it lasted about 30 seconds.. There was a 10 boxers and 10 wrestlers, people were disgusted and walked out. Worst thing you could have done,.Wrestling promoter accepted this challenge, the following week it was on our wrestling program. The wrestlers won so easy people said it was fake….I boxed. I boxed 10 rounds. In Birmingham too. I boxed a wrestler….Sports writer from the Birmingham Herald came down, said it was the best boxing match he ever saw….I did it one time. I never boxed a boxer. We went 10 rounds to a draw. Kind of ended up we were fighting, got a hiplock, guy down. 2 sport writers from the Herald said it was the greatest boxing match he ever saw. Lot of wrestling, coming off the ropes, getting hit with a great big punch coming off the ropes, We had 16 ox. Gloves on. Like hitting each other with pillows.
Q: When I was 10-12 years old growing up in N. California, Sharpe Brothers, broadcast matches on radio, newspaper stories, not these days.
A: Depends on where you are. Don’t need newspaper coverage now. Charlotte, N. Carolina has one of the biggest wrestling programs going. (growls at kids)
Toronto Globe Mail ran story about me on front page last week, 2 weeks ago, went all over Canada. Who is this masked man? Big photo on front page of sports page. Inside half a page. SO there is a lot of publicity, if you look for it, in various areas. NY. The draw 18,000 every 3 weeks. Biggest it has ever been. Bostonm, New Haven, Hartfiled, NY, Philly, New Jersy,Pittsburgh, Chavez territory, going great. Minneaplis too. 20 years ago, Buffalo was one of biggest towns in the country. When I started wrestling in 1954, They wrestled 40 towns a week in t that territory \ 6o- wrestlers that they were booking in Columbus, Mansfield, Cincinnati, Lexington Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Akron, Canton. Now, there are no towns at all being promoted out of Canton. 1964, 40 a week, divided by 70. 6 towns a night,. Now there is none. In another 10 years, someone will come alon. But you have to be on TV today, same with pro-football. Got to put your product on TV. Sponsors buy it up, make money off the sponsors.. If pro golf wasn’t on TV they wouldn’t be making the money they are making. NFL, $16 billion,. The league get. Each team gets a $billion. That’s how you sell tickets.
Q: Who is the weirdest guy you ever met in professional wrestling.
A: Wierdest? I never wrestled him. It would have to be the French Angel. He had a head about this big. Kind of grotesque looking guy. Had a kind of elphantistis. Guy had long arms. Looked like an angel. Hands went well below his knees. He could speak 8 langauges. There was a Swedish guy who had the same disease, but was much taller than this guy. Bald headed, Just grotesque. My brother-in-law is French. This Angel, went to his house and had dinner, as kid, last name is his father was my brother in law. French Angel came to their house because his father is from France. They know him from France some way. This is long before I ever knew him. But I met him in the dressing room when I was a young kid. Mgr. was a man by the name of Carl Pojello,. This guy was w/ him all the time, every time he took him out,. Mgr. died and when I was in Chicago, 1955, the fall, December, Carl Pojello had a heart attack and died in Milwaukee, 190 hours later French Angel died of a broken heart. The man was with him so much, stole all his money too,. He was a good wrestler, not great.
Q: What about mad men types?
A: Man men, fella by the name of Maurice Miochon. He would tear your eye out., He was a street fighter type of wrestler…There are different categories of wrestlers, wrestlers like Jumbo Tsuruta, Baba, Inoki, good wrestlers, Billy Robinson, Terry Funk, Dorey Funk, who are good wrestlers. Robison not in that class, little bit above it, he’s a hooker, he can hurt you. Carl Goch was in that category. I would be in that other category. I know a lot about wrestling and I can teach a lot about wrestling.;But I Don’t know a lot of moves that will hurt you. ….Then there is a guy like Maruice Vachon , who will stomp and rip, and can wrestle as well.. He has the reputation of being in Montreal the toughest man alive. Only stands about 5’8” He was on the 1948 Canadian Olympic team, I was in Honolulu in 1954, 1955, first time I went there.
Q: Anybody like that in Japan.
A: No. There is nobody in the Japanese who is that mean. They don’t have that killer’s instinct.
Q: Same in baseball.
A: This is what coaches will say even if they are amateurs. They are not mean enough.
Q: How much of what goes on is play acting? Knock a guy out of the ring, hit him over the head w/ a chair, still standing.
A: I have been hit w/ everything….See prime time Sunday, Tom Snyder, very vicious, critical person, if he suspects duplicity, he is like Mike Wallace. Did a great bit on wrestling. Went in w/the chairs and the blood and everything. There is no play acting. I have never gone myself into a match to purposely lose. Fans don’t want to see a loser. For me as an educated person to go out in the ring and lose ton Baba or any wrestler on purpose, when people pay to see a winner.. Now I have gone out a lot of times against an inferior opponent, and not beat them right away, because now …./I know if I beat somebody in 30 seconds, I haven’t beat anybody. But if I let them take me down and et them throw me a little bit and then beat the guy then the people say, hey, well, he beat somebody….But if you go out and kick the hell out of somebody in 30 seconds, then they will say well he didn’t have any good opponent. He didn’t have anybody anyway. Hell, I have had my nose broken 8 times. I have been crushed. I have had my nose broken 8 times. This tooth was knocked out by Rikidozan. This one here, is a cap, knocked out by a fan in Seattle, got out of the ring, as I walked out, fans were riled out, they grabbed me by the top of the mask. I grabbed my mask and somebody just slugged me right in the middle, shattered it, that was back in 1965, prior to me going back to LA. 64….
Here is what you see a lot of times, you see a lot of wrestling …on television, the promoter doesn’t want to give a real good match, guy who wants to get a start….this is the fallacy about wrestling, there is no prerequisite Anybody can be a wrestler. They get a license, there is no prerequisite,. Go to the commissioner get a license, get a promoter, get booked. And some night a promoter might need a body. Come on down to the Garden tonight. Gets in against a guy who is pretty good, fans cry, he is a bum, it’s fake. This happens a lot on TV. They got to put a TV package together, they got to put four bouts together. Get some guys who aren’t too good…..Some guys around the country, Vern Gagne, he is a good promoter. They don’t let anybody in the business who doesn’t have He has to go through some vicious training before he gets in the ring. The weightlifter wrestling out of NYC, Ken Peters, a superheavyweight weight lifter, wanted to get into pro wrestling, he made him train for a year, got him down from 280 pounds to 240, and taught him how to wrestle. Now he is a top draw in the Garden. Vern Gagne is now making a lot of money, but if somebody hadn’t grabbed him and taught him how to train, wrestle…
A:.It is the one bad thing that is a black eye on pro wrestling, BUT, not so much IN JAPAN in Japan, they have a system, it is kind of the same as it is in sumo, where you get a young kid, 15-16 years old, who only weighs 120 pounds and they make him carry the weights everyday, set up the ring, And they make them train every night and they make them eat a lot.. And so this kid who is 130, 140 pounds and 6 foot tall, at the end of a year is now 180- pounds, and everyday he has to train and every day he has to practice wrestling, and this is the same in sumo. You go early in the day, you see this little skinny kids, . These kids will eventually work themselves up. Some of them will. But they aall different classes. They don’t ever use anybody in Japan who hasn’t gone through this system. A country that is half the population of the United Sates, there is only 3 wrestling groups. IN USA, we have 10-0 or more wrestling groups around the country….like in Tononto, I go up there next Sunday and I wrestle, Monday we go to Branford and do video tape and will wrestle four times in one night. I will wrestle someobyd a little bit bigger than you. Deosn’t look good, but he wants to wrestle. One, they put bout a chart, Destroyer wrestling, who wants to wrestle? Give a guy a chance, of getting hurt or making a name for himself. IF he beats me, he elevates himself up, but 99.9% of the time, it’s not really a contest.
Q: In Japan on NTV. Match starts, screw around, hits a guy, guy whose hit screams in pain, wrestler who hit him parades around the ring, showing off to fans, why not just ht the guy again?
A: If I see the situation…a few weeks ago, syndicated columnist from Buffalo came to see me, KBW in Buffalo, wanted to televise me wrestling, then do me at Amherst. I said, have to put the mask on. She came up watched first amtch between John TOlis, and somebody, a terrible amtch, she says, ‘this real’. The guy hit him and he fell all over the ring. I say I don’t know how the guy felt, ..but you wait til I get in there….She was gonna shoot 90 seconds of me, a WKBW in Buffalo, a news feature, she shot 800 feet, said she thought greatest thing she’s ever seen….Lot of people say you hit somebody in the nose in the ring and they bleed and it is chicken blood or a capsule. Well I have never seen a capsule, I have never seen any pain,, the only time I saw blood, it was real blood, from somebody…You can see all the scars on my head. …You cut yourself shaving, it shows up a lot…..So when we see something, like that, we will take advantage of it. Give it a little extra pop. That’s what the people pay to see. They like that blood. Lot of people don’t. They think it is too much. Channel 4…Lot of sponsors, like Yokohama Tire, they want it washed off before the second fall starts. They don’t want to see it because they get a lot of complaints from people. Yokohama Tire is sponsor for half the wrestling on Channel 4.
Q; Eg. Guy’s flat on his back on the canvas. Other guy comes down with foot, he’s got to be holding back. You could kill a guy,.
A: That’s right, he could. There are a lot of things that we do in this business, that we try to beat the guy but we don’t try to kill him. We protect ourselves. When we wrestle, we protect ourselves. When I pick a guy up and slam him, that’s it, he takes his lumps. This is what the @people pay to see in professional wrestling. They pay to see, people do unbelievable things that they can’t do. They see a guy come off the top rope w/ a body slam and say how in the hell can they…it’s got to be fixing, well there is no fixing, ..Yes there is a what to fall and you have to learn that and going into the turnbuckle. No I have practice in the gym a thousand times running from corner to corner. So it sounds like I have really coming through the corner. I go into the turnbuckle a little bit crooked sometimes, but hurt my back many times. This is why you practice going in there. I try to hit it, so where it sounds loud, but not get hurt. Or if a guy throws me, I learn how to fall.
(In the car)
Q: Why leave?
A: I had been in Japan long enough. I wanted to come home. SO my daughter wanted to come home with me. You be in one place too long. …I was gonna get married in March, but she went to Dallas, was homesick, was gonna move up here, got a couple of kids, a business down there, gave it all up, moved up here, got homesick, went back down to Dallas
Q: I think she will be back in the spring.
Q: Where is your ex-wife?
A: She lives in Tokyo. Still there. She got liking this guy and stayed. So I have 3 kids, oldest boy goes to school in Honolulu in college, daughter 16, champion swimmer, swims all events. Broke record for 100 backstroke, 100 free and is on relay team. Swims 200 medley, swims in a swim club, was in junior Olympics last weekend. Didn’t do that well. Was sick w/ flu, affected training. She could have been Olympic caliber, but didn’t want to do 8 hours a day she wanted to do volleyball, and track (throws discus). You have to swim 8, 10, 12 thousand yards a day. Didn’t want to sacrifice.
She goes see her mom in summer, I get to see youngest son. Mother wanted her to go at Xmas time, she went, I let her. SO this summer, all 3 kids will stay home….She went to Seisen, in Setagaya, son went to St. Mary’s, French brothers from Montreal, studied French Japaense for 4 years. Daughter had 6 yrs. Of Spanish. Knows J., Spn, Eng. ..son is 11. Other boy is 19. Studying oceaneering inHawaii. Won FE wrestling championship (all Americans schools military in Asia) in high school, and said that’s it, not wrestling any more. So I can always be called the champion. Seisen is a girls school. He went to St. Mary’s. both kids. My ex-wife teaches there now. She teaches art, she’s an artist. She is not a college graduate. Taking etching, a lost art. She found a teacher that teaches it. Draw a picture on a piece of metal, put it onto a print, then print only 100, each print is numbered. Takes it so damn long, do one piece of metal. I don’t know any living artist that ever became rich. Got to be dead before you are rich.
Q: Andy Warhol.
A: You know the girl in Japan that does the sumo wrestlers? My wife can draw circles around her. She’s a great oiliest. Her BWQ sketcings are great. But she will make them but she won’t sell them. She’s a perfectionist, which is the wrong thing to be for an artist.
Q: Did your divorce have anything to do w/ living in Japan? Like all the mags like to say?
A: .No reason at all. The real reason I left Japan is that I fulfilled my obligation. I went there to help en Nihon Pro Wrestling become a solid company, to help Giant Baba. He ahd nobody to help him, so when I left, he had jumbo Tsuruta, Tenryu ex-sumoist,, Ishikawa, ex sumoist, Okuma, and Kojika, a whole string of young wrestlers that he didn’t have in the beginning. He’s solid now. So now when I go back I will be a foreigner against them. Or go either way.
A: Drink beer/
A: I like Sapporo, but now prefer Suntory. Sapporo draft, black label. They have a Bach 2, but can only get it in Hokkaido. Beer from the bottom of the drum. A little thicker. I like the dark label, the draft.
Q: Absolute amazing,. 200 matches a year in Japan.
A: What they do there is bring over 6 or 8 foreign wrestlers. Mostly from Us, but also from Europe, South Americans,, Australia, New Zealanders, or Mexico. Wrestle 3 week, Jan 1-21. We will have two days off, 19 days wrestle, Then two weeks off, we workout every day with young wrestlers in Sendagaya ku. Then we have another tour starting the 2nd week in February, that might run four weeks, 28 days we wrestle 25 times, then two weeks off, 189-200 matches in Japan. In Tyo, maybe once a week on the average.
Q: What happens if you get a bad cut or someone knocks your tooth out? You got to fight the next day.
A: In this business I have fought many times with cuts, bruises, I have had my knee operated on. I have had a broken leg, which has kept me out of the business twice for three months. Most wrestlers have a chronic bad back.
Q: IN ROK, little girls on street, kids bought t-shirt that said Fuck you, letters pretty,
A: I have a T-shirt that has got me in a goalie net w\mask on, Herb Wakabayashi, # 18, ex-Olympic player, puck coming at me, and letter says “Get the Puck out of here.” My ex-wife designed it….I wrote a book called an exercise book I sold to some production company. This was prior to getting a divorce….My wife and I were never mad at each other, we just didn’t get along.. Get along better now than before. She worked for my company after the divorce, good designer, did pics for the book…..Destroyer playing tennis with 8 rackets. (orders clam chowder)
A: It is a sad situation that we got divorced. Any divorce is a sad situation. A lot of even my friends said “Kawaii so.” I took the heavy brunt of the divorce but it was a 50-50 thing. She wanted out and I wanted not really out, she didn’t want anything and she didn’t get anything. On paper, she got custody of the children and I have 100% visitation rights. But that had no reason at all, I was divorced in 1977, and I didn’t leave Japan until 1979. SO it had no bearing on my leaving. In fact, I stayed, in Japan so that I could keep my kidi together for two more years and so my son could graduate from high school,….it was more or less, a mistake on my part, I should have, business wise, I would have been smart to come home. I would have been more in demand to go back to Japan, but I could still ask my price, but if I had left then, then people really would have said the divorce caused me to leave. I stayed in J. because of my family—I am cancer baby, and they are family oriented. I stayed basically at home this year, coaching football at Akron and wrestling, just so I could stay home w/my daughter. But it struck the J. people very hard, they couldn’t understand it, we did everything together, we went everywhere together and the divorce came fast. I sent my wife home, she came home, she had physical problems with her leg, sent her to Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota , couldn’t help her there, went to Buffalo and had a partial hysterectomy. I came home and the problems started then. After the hysterectomy. Wrote to her doctor, he said should not be mentally depressing cuz they didn’t remove any ovaries, so basal metabolism should have been the same. But she was completely different person. It was like she did 180 degrees. September, October, November, we went on a trip to North Shore, on TV, Gochisosama on Hachinoe for three days, then to Taiwan, together all the time and that was, it just wasn’t the same, so then we…got divorced, started in February, January, late January, litigation completed in June, June 1, (1977) but the Japanese public didn’t know about it for another year. It was secret. Nobody knew about it. Only Baba, ….I was in Japan, we were still living together. It was the following February of 1978, Senda and I were talking in the dressing room. Now there are three types of communication in Japan Telegraph, telephone, tell Senda . I divorced. You get divorced Send Mitsuo, he was a comedian on my TV show in Uwasa NO Channel, I told him on a.m. at 11 a.m., that night every magazine was at Uwasa no Channel, wanting to know about the divorce. The fact they we were so close, were on so many programs together, did a book together, an album together, It created a shock, and they couldn’t understand. They still see us together after divorce. They couldn’t cope w/ that. In Japan, you divorce, you never see each other.. SO it was very difficult.
A: The things that she cared about before, she didn’t care about again….Not pro wrestling, I was a wrestling when I met her…The Destroyer was very popular, and my wife was a talented artist, and that came up during the divorce arguments. She was jealous of the fact that she was known as the Destroyer’s wife, than as herself. She entered a contest. She had a painting and she won but she thinks she won because she was the Destroyer’s wife.. And the they couldn’t convince her there were no names, visible, covered up, but they uncovered the name and she was known as Destroye’’s wife and not Wilma and I think that was one of the reason. In fact, had another GF, here, From Dallas, Up here, she was w/ me, she lost her identity. Had own shops 15 yers. In Dallas.there.
Q:Divorce settlement. A: Yes, done in 6 months…She wanted it done as quickly as possible,
TAPE II. SIDE AQ: What was the painting?
A: A painting of a Vietnamese woman w/ a baby on her back. Several people wanted to buy it. Maybe she sold it, DK. Mainichi Shimbun ran story about it, and so 7th floor Seibu Departnent, store, Shinjuku not Seibu, Isetan, 5th or 6th floor, sponsored by Nikon Camera. The doctor was an artist himself. And he belonged to art club that my wife belonged to and in fact he got my wife into the art club. And they had these art shows in different places. He thought my wife was very talented, that’s why he got her in the shows. But she figured that she didn’t win that contest on her talents but on somebody’s name.
Q: What was her name?
Q: When going back to Japan?
A: A wrestling tour in May and June. Two week and a four week tour. But I made it so that I could bring my son back w/ me, cuz he out of school, June 10.
Q: What do you see for the future, base here, periodic trips
A: Want to keep my property here, working on wrestling promotions in this area.
Now working to put TV on Rochester, Syracuse here, and Buffalo was a very good town. Want to restore that interest. So I have done some things in that direction.
Q: What’s the funniest thing you have ever seen in Japanese wrestling? Any funny stories you tell? Stories about Japan?
A: Most stories are things we have done to each other outside a match, For eg. We had wrestler from Bufallo, Brian Gatoni, big fat guy, buckleup boots, fill shoes up w/ stones from Japanese gardens come down w/ boots on …pulled all kinds of tricks on him. He always say “Why do you do that to me for?” Pour stones out, pops button on shirt, walking to station, stone still in there, “Red, one day I’m going to get you.”
A: In a match, one thing that wasn’t so funny, when Rikidozan was alive, he promoted a town that had gangsters. And the rival gang was going to blow up the ring. It was a 6-man tag team match, main event. Myself and Ileo D’Paulo, an Italian wrestler, & Buddy Austin, Riki, Togo and Toyonobori. That was Hammamatsu-cho. They said when you are in the ring, keep an eye on the aisle, if you see anybody running up the aisle, get the hell out. So one guy is in the ring, wrestling, and the other two are watching the aisles. Prior to the Olympics, that was. But when the Olympics came, you couldn’t find a gangster in Japan. But now, they have all come out again and they are very active again, in various parts of Japan. 100% they run them all into the ground, arrested them all, when you look askance when you look (garbled), they get tough.
Q: The guy who runs Riki Enterprises, you ever met him, a guy named Yamamoto, really rough fucker, bears a scar on his back, yukata in the summer, wears his kimono down so you can see it, has a tattoo, look at it, “Nani wo mitte iru na no,, kono yaro, aho”. I see him everyday because the office is right down on the first floor, have to walk by it,. It was sort of intimidating. You don’t want to get too behind on your rent, with somebody like him. But he is involved in Baba’s wrestling association.. There are posters all over the place. I think I know who you mean, and I call him a gangster, and he’s not, but he looks like one.
Q: Gregg) Maybe that is what he wants.
A: I think I know who you mean. Rough looking face.
Q: He never smiles unless he is laughing at somebody.
A: I’m not sure. He is always around. When I do see him it is usually on match day. He is w/ wrestling promotions and Rikidozan’s wife is involved in the promotion. And he always shows up.
Q: He is sort of like her guardian.
A: Yep. …Baba is driving around in a big car. (limo?>)
Q; (Gregg) He has to. Wouldn’t fit in anything else.
A: He ahs a wife. Wife or girl friend, I don’t know.
They have been living together since Moto. She drives the car. They have been living together since he played baseball w/ the Giants. 20 years ago. They been going together. They…if you ask the Japanese, they say no, he is not married. Ask they Americans, they say they are married. I don’t know. And I don’t care.
Q: If they are not married, they sure act like it.
A: You married.
A: In the service. I
A: Gregg. I was in the service in Viet Nam Got out, moved to Kyoto.
Q: Do they wrestle in Kyoto?
A: They wrestle in two place and do very well there. They do very well in a place where they have a lot of karate and judo. Only seats about 2,000. They hae been more successful in pro wrestling there, they will; pack them and send them away. Places over there, 3,000,yen ticket, 2,000 attend, you got a $30,0000 dollar house. That’s pretty good money.
Q: (Greg) What’s ticket cost in US?
A: Toronto is $10 ringside. $2.50 general admission.
Q: Why is it referees are so lenient in pro-wrestling. You guys break the rules all the time.
A: It’s like I explained before, about pre-requisities. The one thing I tried to get done in Japan, , that they didn’t do, is have more rules that you can understand….that’s bwhy you can ask me questions like you do,. How can this guy grab a chair? How can this guy do this? … Like I wrestled Minneapolis, Vern Gagne was a wrestler. Colelge graduate. If someone asked him a wrestling question, he could give you an answer. That the people can understand, Can you come off a top rope on top of a guy’s throat. You can’t it ‘s a disqualification, How can a guy take a head and run it into a corner post. You can’t. How can you throw a guy over the top rope? You can’t, it’s a disqualification. There are all these rules in Miunneapolis. But not in Japan. They do it in Japan but they should be disqualified, it is what the Japanese wrestlers think the Japanese fans want. It has gotten to the point that there are …the , like you say, the Sheik goes out there and hits them w/ a chair. Splits his head open. Should be a disqualification.
Q: (Greg) Could kill somebody.
A: Sure you can. That is what I am saying. That’s the one thing….Baba did two things that I suggested. They used to have these things in the corner. They looked like pillows. Get rid of those, put turnbuckles on. Turnbuckles are things that cover up the corners. When a rope goes around corner, there is an eye hook, got to cover that. Used to be a cover there that when you went into it there was no sound. Didn’t do anything. So I said you got to put 3 turnbuckles there and when you throw it you get a boom. And he changed the count from when a wrestler from a 20 count to a 10 count. Which is the count that the National Wrestling Alliance abides by, has an over-the-top rope disqualification, throw man into corner post disqualification, hit man w/ foreign object disqualification, hit a referee it’s a disqualification, run a man into corner post it is a disqualification. These are all rules that he and Inoki and the other one should abide by because they all abide by a …but J. will not do it because they say the Japanese want to see people outside fighting. And I say no they really don’t. They want to be able to understand and say, oh yes, that’s a disqualification.
Q: (Greg): A lot of people do want to see that kind of blood and gore.
A: You can’t make me believe, knowing all the conversation, everything I get, , that if they knew if I…rubbing (?) hair is illegal, but it is not a disqualification…. Referees hands tied in that they don’t have enough rules that they can strictly enforce. 3 ways to beat a guy, disqualification, pin, count out. Or ref’s decision. 4 ways. If they put in these other rules, you can beat by above mentioned disqualifications.
A: The day I left, the party Baba gave for me, was all the wrestlers, that’s the one thing I said, in English, somebody did interpreting, Momota, Yoshi, and he didn’t say what I said, as I discovered later. The one thing I wanted to get across was the rules.;
Q: What do you think of play acting in pro wrestling, think it has a place?: No…gets hit, fakes pain of injury to make comeback more spectacular
A: Well, you had your Gorgeous George’s, you had however interpret it, play acting, but basic thing that everybody has to go back to is wrestling. Territories that have done big business and have then gone down have had to come back to wrestling and sell wrestling,. It is the greatest product going and the oldest sport going. Go back to Olympics, one of the only sports they used to have was wrestling. 100 years. So territories that had all the blood and thunder and all the cheers, have seen enough of it that they stay away, then they start bringing wrestling back. It’s a great product, it’s 2 people having a fight with rules. And everybody loves to see a fight. So we don’t need, Hippodrome, …There is a lot of room in our business for wrestlers. There are more college wrestlers coming into our business today than they ever had. Which is why it’s much better today than it ever was.
Q: Tonight’s HS wrestling more appealing than watching guy get hit over head w/ a chair ….and pretending he’s hurt more than he is
A: It is pretty hard to pull a punch on a chair.
Q: How can you be hit over the head w/ a chair and still be standing? I’ve never been hit over the head w/ a chair. But you have.
A: It’s like boxers. You can watch a boxer can hit You think he’d knock his head off, but the guy was moving w/ the punch. Lots of times you catch an elbow you’re moving w/ the punch. Hit w/ chair, lot of times, glances off you.
Q: Ht a guy w/ a chair hard enough you could kill him.
A: Probably could. Probably the reason the guy’s sore./
Q: Other times, pulls back?
A: DK anyone who hit w/ chair and pulled it. Hit the guy for a reason.
Q: (Greg) Choking’s illegal right. You been choked?
A: Yes, but not bad cuz always got my hands in there.
Q: (Gregg, I watched once every two weeks)
A: When I was there, the only guy who came over and flagrantly violated the rules, flat out flouted them was the Black Fella by the name of the Butcher. Big Fat Guy. He was out and in and out and in. Next tour we come over we bring the Funk Bros. Dorey and Terry And they wrestle and we would draw twice as much money w/ these guys—good solid wrestlers, like gymnasts—as you would with Butcher, in and out of the ring, biting people…he had so much scar tissue on his head that all you had to do was punch him in the head and he would bleed. He liked that,. He loved it. He couldn’t perform unless he had blood on him. You ought to see this guy. He had a ridge right here on his head of scar tissue, if it was near eyes, he would be blind from the overlap.
A: He just did a movie w/ Stallone. Paradise Alley. Funk was in it. Stallone was a promoter.
Q: Have you ever been really scared in match in Japan.
A: I was scared that night in Hammamatsu, when the bomb threat.
Q: What about an oppoent.
A; No, I have never been scared in a match. Nervous every time I went in the ring. Have to take a nervous piss. Even today. I had 5,000 matches. You think I’d get over it. Not worried about getting hurt, or my opponent, or win or lose, just want to do a good job—except in Japan I always had to make sure that I won. I don’t worry about that now. Not important to me now. What is important is to do a good job, show good wrestling the public wants to see. I have a very good image and following that I have to protect.. People want to see the Destroyer.
Q: When you talk about the Destroyer you are talking about more than wrestling.
A: Oh, yes.
Q: Can you describe what it is. Yasashi? Just the right kind of personality that strikes a responsive chord among the Japanese…..Sayonara Baby Face, ….mag story title….What is it about you that appeals to them so much?
A: My own personal opinion,. I think I put myself in Japan, I was a Japanese, I became one of them, and probably the first American that has ever done that. I lived with them, I think they accepted me as being Japanese….you m. to J. DK if you accepted in your community….I know that a lot of Japanese do not like gaijin, Koreans, or what have you. But the J. man, that I talk to, accepted me as Japanese….1) the fact that I was a very strong family man and Japanese love family, 2) The fact that I like kids, I did a lot of charity work in Japan. I went to a lot of crippled children’s hospitals. Played Santa Claus at different children’s hospitals. At Old Folks Homes. This put me …I did this on my own, not through, w/o Baba or Suruga,….This put me more so Japanese, more so family man that Japanese, they felt that I cared about something else. And I think that all this entered into the image of the Destroyer. Different than just Destroyer the Comedian. Destroyer the Wrestler. It was Destroyer the Person. This is what a lot of people write about. Because a lot of the sportswriters have followed me since Rikidozan’s days. Same sportswriters for Tokyo Sports Press….SO in answer to your question, he is all that.
Q: How many T-shirts have you sold.
A: About 10,000-15,000 T-shirts. And about 25,000 mask. 3 kinds of t-shirts, keep it up, you can do it, and let’s try….Destroyer, sweat coming from brow, is Let’s Try…Sit up, You can do it…Littele one w/ pushup, ….It was a business I tried to get it into dept. stores, it was tough. Even if I want to a sign-kai, on the street, Mitsukoshi, I would get paiud, have my shirts in the sales, some goes to charity, shirt sales would go to me…my shirts had to go from my company to a trading company to me. Price tag on it. First you give it back to a company on the street. Some of it on my end went to charity. I could get away from that in Hokkaido, out of Tokyo, get away from Department Store,.//Mask is biggest selling item. They sell 40-50 a night. That’s 40 or 50- extra dollars you wouldn’t have. Like pen money. I had my own company and my own visa. When I left Japan I was in a position where I could finally stay in Japan for 6 months. First visa was a 60 day entertainer visa, Had to go down and renew it. Go to HK or ROK, takes kids out of school, wife, cost $5,000 every time I went. Just to pick up papers. I offered ot give them the money to savew me the problem of leaving.
A: You know Wally Yonamine. He never got a real good visa until he was 18 years in Japan. …Still doesn’t have a good visa. Still ahs to renew .Has a 3 year vis…You wrestling on TV shows and seems like visa needs to be renewed every day.
After I got my company, everything went there and they didn’t take the 20% tax out. So I took a salary from my company. Still paid taxes through the company or me, but somebody else wasn’t taking a cut. When I did Uwasa No Channel, or someother TV show, the money would go to Zen Nihon Pro Wrestling, they take their cut, and gave it to me, and tax taken out. Cuz they they didn’t put me on TV. It wasn’t their business. They didn’t discover me. Rikidozan did. I worked for him. I did have a couple of arguments with Baba about that and he agreed w/ me. …
Q: ,Your co. was KK.
A* Yes, Yono Ji Kikaku. Figure 4 leglock.I offer $1000 to any professional wrestler who can get out of that hold. I put this old on a guy who said he could get out of it, he had a sore leg for a week…But when you write it in J., it means death. Had ad Fig. 4 logo, a great logo, foot here, footbthere, head for me up there, my wife designed it…When I was going through college I had a hot dog stand, charbroiled ht dog, did it for 4 yers.l Also Italian sausages., Served on a hard roll….so when I was in J. I took some hot dogs, Milwaqukee, Buffalo good hot dog sausage town. I smuggled frozen hot dogs, Salem in my bad, frozen, and I took them to 4 meat packers in J. One of them liked the dog. Sheepskin casing, gv when you cook it on characoal broil, it crackles..makes it digestible /..Most ht dogs in Japan, can’t chew the skin, ….so I thought they ahad hamburger, izza, chicken, everything but charcoaled broiled hot dog, I went to Ito Ham, were going to back me on it, got Yamazaki Pan, to my office, cooked some for them, they said it was great., They wanted $1 million dollars for the location, just for that. And I didn’t have the $1 million and didn’t want to borrow just for an investment. That’s the one thing I wanted to do./Destroyer charcoal broiled hot dogs. Would go over fantastic. …J. pink wieners, image is so bad
Q: You like BB?
A: Loved to go to Kawasaki, Jingu. Leon came over many times. No Neck Williams was over there. He lives in my apartment bldg. He lives on the 4th floor. I live on the 6th. Met Lefevre, at Clark Hatch’s, George Altman,…I am long time bb fans…..go to Marty’s place, super service, wife is very nice, now he going to represents foreign athletes…
Went out drinking with Charlie at house party, there until 3*30 until the morning, had a day game that day, I say, common Charlie, got to go, he says, we got one more place e to go….went to Roppongi, …you got to get up, 10 a,..m practice begins..,.stories about him sleeping,…we go to…I am driving…they were ./..went to Shinagawa, International Hotel, CM says this is not my hotel, he went to bed, he hit 2 home runs. He couldn’t have six hours sleep, we drank a ton of beer. Now, he had 4 hours sleep.
Q: He was MVP. Of the P.L. last year. Senda, SS for Lotte, was a good friend. Shibata and I were a foursome at a PRO^Am, had Machiaki, Chako Higuchi and myself, Lady Pro Baseball celebrity Golf thing, Yomiuiri Country Club in Yokohama, sponsored by Omega. I won the tournament, got a Omega watch, golf putter, two big trophies. Had an 18 handicap that day. 43 + 46..Shibata had a 5 handicap. Drove the ball 300 yards.
Q: Shibata approachable….Oh, too…33 home runs, .279 this year
A: When you get hurt, and you are older, you don’t heal as fast.
Q: Who are your best friends in Tokyo.
A: Giant Baba would be one,. We are very close. If I needed something I would call him. The fella who handles my koenaki, was one of sponsors for my company, name is Kanemura, has a Sony shop in Azabu-ju-ban. There are seven people who are my sponsors for my company, Akeo Hata, has a J-American type restaurant, fellow who owns a paint company in Hokkaido, fellow who owns a little snack bar, one of the first men I ever met in Japan, on street from Shimbashi to Dai-Ichi , name is Sugiyama., Dai-Ichi is where I first stayed in Shimbashi. Went up 30 paces to the right, upstairs and you were there, a little bar about that big and he spoke English. Beer was 100 yen a bottle. The it wsa 360 yen to the dollar so you could drink a lot of beer for a dollar….250 yen now, And he and I that man, probably very close to me now, I spent the last six New Year’s at Sugiyama’s house. Went to Meiji Shrine together and spent all day New Year’s at his house. W/ my wife and family, and ever afterwards, the divorce, I went….Up in Hokkaido I have a friend named Kinoshita,, he has all of Hokkaido’s Destroyer fan club, he has a small snack bar, serves J. style sushi, Hokkaido type soups and so forth, go in there looks like the Destroyer’s wear house. Senda Matsui, and Anoneone, entertainers who are friends, but these I mentioned before are not famous, just people who were very good to me. I had a thank you party. Kansah party. I invited 125. Then this Tanimura was a week before I left,.then on Tuesday, Tokyo Press Club had a party for me at a beer garden. Tanimura had a party at a disco. People I met via sign kais, and a CB club—My handle was “Raghead.” I had a number and everyone knew who I was. Over 100 people at this disco, paid over 5,000 yen a piece to go. Touching, Even I cried.llot of people I really did know well, but I had contact w/, or w/ my children. Last song was Auld Lang Syne. I couldn’t believe I was up there crying, Then they made me leave and I had to say goodbyeto all the people, and he made the tape and.shwed it in his sony shop.
Q: Do you think you could live in Japan permanently?
A:; I could, very easily, but if I did it I would have to have no worries here in US and liquidate all here and sell everything, put money in the bank, go there, buy property, build a house, In fact, I told several people there. People ask me, what was it like, I say it was like home. I was very happy there, they treated me well.,..i could have lived there, If I hadn’t had had all the things I had here that needed to be taken care of. I could work at some of my property here for a year and I still wouldn’t have it all done. And I hav en’t done a thing since I have been home except watch it You know, one house is like a 100 year old farm house and it needs a lot of work on it.”..Tenant complained, I said, if you don’t like it, move out and get somebody else to move in….side, windows cracked, flooring that needs to be done…good water, furnace, ok, just want extras, that’s all. I’m not going to do it.
Q: (Greg) Ever wrestle in Okinawa?
Q: The little islands?
A: Yep, Everyone of them. Got on little tiny boat, group of wrestlers,,,Everybody comes out to meet the boat. Once, tried tor ent a car, couldn’t, tried tor en rent a bike, so somebody bought a motor bike for somebody and used it for the whole day then at end of the day he gave it back….guy got a good deal.
Q: Anybody try to take your mask off? Fan?
A: Wrestlers have tried to take it off, but it’s very tough. Made of doubleknit now, Descente makes it. My wife used to make it. Good friend of mine, Osaki, through whom I met Marty, …guy mae a shipment of masks 10-12, but he never sent me back my originals, never got them, somebody fingered them. Before I left, they made 50 for me,. I have a street mask, a single thickness. In the ring, they are twice that thick.
Q: Try it on. (Greg tries it on).Pretty hard to take it off. …can see too much of his face…
A: But if you don’t know what he looks like….this is why this mask if good, I got 100% peripheral vision, A lot of guys don’t, got a smaller mask, , can’t see.
A: I will tell you a funny story. I played golf with Jumbo Ozaki. One of the pro-am part of the top 15 golfer money winner tourney, held in …only top 15 can play…Jimbpo was my partner, I had 9 holes, he played well…I said you think you so damn good, play with the mask on, sow/ a mask on. He had a 35 going out and a 40 coming in. Knocvked it out of bounds off the #10 tee, right off the bat. If not used to it, have trouble seeing down.
A: Most of my stories have to do w/me being on the street. I would be driving my car and trucks would stop on the freeway and they come out or they would see me in a taxi and open the taxi door. And ask for an autograph. A real …it is completely different when I went driving in Japan w/o the mask. When I had the mask on, it was “Destroyer Dozo”..w/o the mask, I was just another gaijin and had to fight for everything I could get. To get someplace in heavy traffic, if I didn’t have my mask on, I would slip it on and …w/o mask nobody ever recognized me. They would never say, that’s the Destroyer. Except one time I was in the Ginza with my young son and I had happened to be on Uwasa No Channel the night before. Somebody saw him and then saw me, that big gaijin, and walking through the Ginza, a Destroyer.
A; Another story, I was in an island, down off of Hiroshima, had to take a boat, a ferry boat to a place close to Hiuroshima, and then a short train ride from that town to Hiroshima and then catch the Shinkansen to go to Tokyo. And I was really in a hurry, and I was all by myself traveling, and I had to get back to Uwasa No Channel, which was a Friday show. And the guy who was the ticket taker, I couldn’t speak the language, still don’t speak enough to get a lot of things done, but the ticket taker jumped over the counter, ran with me to change my ticket and said you run to the station, cuz the train was about to leave, I will catch up with you, he ran in
Q: You had your mask on (Greg):
A: Yeah, when I travel, I had it on all the time. It was publicity. He kept the ticket. I ran all the way to the platform, the train was just getting ready to leave and he gave me my ticket and the conductor who was on the bag grabbed my bags and took it all the way to my seat. Unbelievable. Only in Japan….I going to write a book someday, Only in Japan.
Q: You said before that some of the wrestlers tried to take off your mask but couldn’t?
A: Yeah…It was made from a woman’s girdle and my question I ask is always did you ever try to take a woman’s girdle off when she didn’t want it off
A: (LAUGH) It’s hard, very hard. So now you put that girdle on a wrestler and it gets to be very , very hard….Now this is where …and now this is what’s good about the mask, now, you talk a little bit of Hippodroming, whatever, if you pull on it, it stretches. In US people go bananasa, they really want to see the mask off. In Japan, not so much…You ask me why I don’t want my picture taken w/o the hood. Lot of people have done it from the side, or the back. This is still a story and I don’t want it to end. If they should see who I look like then the story will end. Now there is a certain amount of people who want to see it. Others not. It’s like reading a book. You don’t want it to end. This is another way to explain the mask. It’s a mystery. Tanimura who is president of my koenkai, has been to my house several times, and has seen me w/o my mask, however, his next door neighbor, the man who runs the restaurant, and who is the sponsor of my company and his wife, my oldest son and my daughter have worked in his restaurant, , I spent more time in the bank, he’s got a 5-seated bar, in the back, kitchen, , in front, a restaurant, serves hamburger steak khaki fry, chicken, J. dishes, he has never seen me w/o my mask. I have known him for six years. He is one of the sponsors of my company. Never seen me w/ my m,ask off…Then Mr. Fukuya, Diet member, in Asauksa, looks like JFK a little bit, he is a Diet man in the Senate, Only two of my 7 sponsors—7 is the law in J.—have seen me w/o my mask. …When I am off, I got to Clark Hatch’s, finish up working out there at 10:30, I worked with Takakura Ken, we used to work out there every night. He was there every night. I saw, Come On, Takakura, let’s go have a beer. SO we leave Clark Hatch’’s and go out to this restaurant, But the bar in the back, was always open, to as many people as you could get in there. 4-5 people in there. It was a place where I could go, get no hassle, get away and everything,…sometimes sign something, but the people that went there saw me everyday, so it wasn’t a big deal….It was a hideaway….Mr. James was a little bit like that. I would get hassled on the street getting there, but once I got in here, I didn’t get hassled. They were steady customers, once they see me once or twice and they stopped noticing.
A: But I have gone through customs maybe 50 times. And I have only been asked to lift my mask up a half a dozen times Amazing Wear it in the bank, wear it in the airports, wear it through security, in airplanes, …I could be anybody…,.But my photo was in the passport, w/o a mask. That was the only thing that I was missing, a passport with the mask photo.
A: I threw the first pitch out at a Nippon Ham game one day. Walt Williams. And Bobby Mitchell was playing w/ Ham.
Q: Is it uncomfortable wearing mask for a long time.
A; In August in Japan it was uncomfrotable. As soon as you got inside where it was air conditioned, it was ok. In the wintertime, it was great, up in Hokkaido, everybody wanted to get one….I wear this one I go skiing.
A; wanted to sell hot dogs in store in Seibu. Yonaji Ktami (Fig, 4 leglock) very popular. It has been very popular since I put this hold on Rikidozan and he spent three days in the hospital. It’s very popular. …I went ot see Mr. Den Fujita, head of MacDonald’s, owns every MacDonald’s hot dog stand in Japan. Rich man, He has got a few bucks. Met him on an airplane going from Osaka to Tokyo. This was like 1975-1976.
Q: Your name card say The Destroyer?
A: Yes. See the little man on the card. He offered me a Macdonald’s hot dog or hamburger stand. I said I don’t have any time for that. Send him some masks. So I gave him a call, needed a crash course in the business. Went to 44th floor in Shinjuku,k w/ Tanimura…His sons loved it, hot dogs, Tried to get hot dogs in MacDonald’s for years. So he said, I like everything but the name on your card, of your company, but if you take this yonoji to J. business man he won’t do business w/ you cuz the kanji means death. A big 4.……says change name to Destroyer Company So I didn’t. Instantly recongizable, cost 50,000 yen to change all papers over, I did it because he said so…He was the #1 businessman in Japan
Q: Do you get mad much in the ring?
A: Much, no. Yes I do. Much no.
Q: What is the maddest you have ever got.
A: I was leaving ring in Nagoya and some fan cut me w/ a knife or a can opener, but I had a gash in my back about that long, still And I had a a scar, I turned around whacked the guy got into a big fight. That was as mad as I have been with any body because I didn’t think it would happen in Japan,. And I was wrestling as a Japanese. I just never expected it. In the States, yes.. Never in Japan. That was between 1965 and 1970.
Q: Maybe I am full of shit, but seems to me when Americans fight in Japan, they lose and there is a pattern to the way they lose, they start out, break all the rules, they will be the villain, do things J. wrestler won’t do. American will win first fall. Then J. explode in righteous rage and win the next two falls and the match,. …In US, turns out the other way. Well, as far as America …you take, it doesn’t have to be wrestling, if you take a boxer who comes over to box a Japanese, he is a villain, he wears black trunks, …So I have wrestled both ways in Japan and, as a Baby Face..Baby Face is a terminology used in wrestling where a baby face is somebody who is a clean wrestler. So either I am a heel or a baby face. So depending on which side of the fence you are, that is how you see me..I might wrestle the very same way, like when I was on American side, they would boo me. But if I was on the J. side and do exactly the same thing, they cheer me.
Q: For eg. One thing.
A: ok, I pulled hair, I kicked, I punched. J. cheer, it’s ok, if I am on the J. side. .And I fight against the American, the other one is the villain. So I don’t necessarily see a pattern, but if the American goes over there, he is a foreigner and so he is a villain. Depends on what side of the glass you are looking on. Japanese comes here to the United States. Here’s a foreigner coming over here. Already he is a villain. Unless he gets against some American w/ a big rep as a villain. ….but here, this is what the Americans want, is a villain…
Q: So Americans are encouraged to..
A: But not necessarily. Terry Funk and Dorey Funk, and Gil Mascaras, Dos Mascars, these people are all clean wrestlers, wrestle for Zen Nihon pro wrestling, they are all clean and when they comet to Japan they don’t kick, etc, punch and stomp..Throw chairs./; Some do Butcher does.Bobo Brazil does….Funks, Mascera, I see them go 60 minutes with Jumbo Tsuruta but never throw a punch. So there are a certain amount of foreign wrestlers over there who are baby faces….
Q: And the other guys are capitalizing on the villain role.
A: And J. go to US, J. fought against us during war, lot, go back to that 66%, before & after the war, pro wrestling started in late 40’s, there were a lot of Germans, not necessarily from Germany, that took up German names, and wrestled as Villains. Or the Japanese-Americans from Honolulu. Took name Mr. Moto, Mr. Ito…Tashiro comes over here wrestles in Fla., Tenryu came here. So but pattern has changed a little bit, but American people don’t hate the Japanese anymore,… But they are starting to hate them as far the automobile industry is concerned.
Q: See many J. accept role of villain in US?
A: Yes. Seen it in Japan too…Koba, Zen Nihon, cuz they are tough boys, don’t have the polish,…can cover up lack of skills by being rough. As a villain, you can beat a villain many times, you still want to see them beat, but if you beat a hero, many times, not worth anything anymore. If you take the hero in any episode and beat him you got to change the hero and get rid of him.
Q: Must be hard to get up for 200 matches a year?
A: Not really, every night is a different night, different town and different crowd, etc. Never against the same opponent. It never, ever, did I get tired of putting on my shoes and getting in the ring, I always looked forward to it every night. Had to please different people, I had to prove myself. Another time, another place, another opponent, so it was always a challenge to me. It never got old, even today. I got up to Llleywen, or , hit universal, 4 times in one night, cut 4 one hour tapes. Never really gotten to me., Lot of times I wrestled in some of those islands. But it was another night, against another group of people who paid to see me. I always had idea that they aid to see me, there were a lot of other wrestlers on the card, but they paid to see me, was my attitude. So I had to go out there and show these people.
Q: What is the most punishment you have ever inflicted on another wrestler?
A: Probably against Rikidozan. He I had a Figure Four Leglock on him for 30 minutes. Put him in the hospital for 3 days. That was the first fight with him. He fought it and fought it and fought it and fought it and wouldn’t give up. It is a very punishing hold…
A: .I am on TV here, that’s why you here a lot of kids go by me and yell. In Buffalo, not a big deal if they see me with or without the mask…115 from Lancaster came over, Figure 4, ah nothing, ….he yelled…When you fight the hold, if becomes tighter, it’s a figure four and when try to straight out the bottom part of the four, it is like a vice, it just gets tighter.. It is a hold that I can put on a lot of these so-called smart-aleck kids, can put a lot of holds on them, but this is one, my favorite,
(in the car) …Nishimatsu changed name from Suzuki and became world champion.
Q: (Notes. Doesn’t smoke, except for an occasional cigar, drinks w/ the best of them, got actor, PR genius, find out copies of book sold)
A: Jumbo Tsuruta was on the 1972 Olympic Heavyweight team, Greco-Roman, joined Baba’s team….Inoki, probably becuz more people know him, that is why he wrestled vs. Ali. Giant Baba is not well known, was a pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants.,hurt his arm in accident, live in US, did training with hockey club Sabres,
…Aoyama, give you the rolls, and get the hot dogs from Primo meat
Q: Think Tsuruta is best in J. now?]
A; best, up and coming, big,moves, well, young, good looking, an extrovert, has a lot of pluses on his side.
Q: How old is Inoki?
A: Same, just looks a lot older. Baba got mad when I said that to him. He has this thing about age. A lot of Japanese do. Once your 30 your are old, get past 40, you’re ancient…Sumo wrestlers, usually when they turn 30 they are (garbled) that’s why Jesse, he’s just turned 35, but he don’t plan to return until he drops out of the upper division.
Q: Baba still looking good. Saw on TV in December, beat some American, looked pretty spry. Picked the guy and tossed him out of the ring.
A: HE had trouble w/ his back for a while when I was there.
Q: Who’s oldest active pro wrestler you see.
A: Jim Londis wrestled till 66 , he wrestled Primo Canera, at that time Primo was
(story about Londis, restaurant, Escondido, San Diego, great pie
Q: When do wrestlers reach their peak?
A: My age. Biggest money makers bare between 40 and 50. Dick the Bruiser, Rich OVn (garbled),
Q: One would think the amount of punishment you take, but I guess you compensate with experience.
A: IF you stay in shape, you do much better. Warren Spahn, Stan Musial, like that. They extend their careers beyond normal athlete because they keep fit. 365 days a year. Never fall out of ….Al Oerter, won last gold medal, 42, 43 still going./..Biggest mistake is to I did was to go on mashed potatoes and chicken circuit, put on 20 pounds,
A: No matter how good a wrestler you are, you NG if you can’t draw money, I realized I could go any where in the world and draw money. Best wrestler in the world, if he can’t bring people into the auditorium, you’re not good. Good eg. Is fellow by Goch.Very skilled, Very toogh wrestler, Colorless, No Personality at all. Billy Robinson, UK, very colorful
Q: but if wrestling is basically a game of skill like boxing, why should showmanship have anything to do with ti?
A: If Ali couldn’t draw people…in every pro sports, you have to draw people, there is showmanship of some sort. Ted Williams spits at the crowd, 10,000 extra people come the next day,
Q: Suggested to Number interview w/ Ali, they said no he’s not champion, suggested Holmes, got a blank stare.
A: No personality,.
Q: Baba & Inoki won’t fight the younger fight younger wrestelrs.
A: They will. I would like to see Baba and Inoki fight each other, but they won’t do it. But they don’t want to do it. Also should fight Kimura, top guy for Kokusai Wrestling.
TAPE 3 SIDE A
A: Japan pro wrestling always been promoted by top dog, going back to Rikidozan, then he died and it was Baba and Inoki got more popular , but Inoki didn’t like it and he left, then he came back and Baba was top dog, he didn’t like that so he left again, then Baba left, because he wasn’t getting the money he thought he should be getting….Then there’s that patriarachal system, as in sumo and baseball…There was a lot of jealousy, DK who was the worst, or who was the worst culprit/
Q: There is a lot of face lost in who loses, Baba or Inoki
A: This is true. I don’t know which one has been avoiding the other one. Both have challenged the other one. Baba challenged Inoki and vice-versa, but But then there is a question of who gets to telecast the match Inoki is tied up with Channel 10. Baba is tied up with Channel 4. So who would televise it, how would the receipts be dividied. When Inoki fought Ali Channel 10 lost about two million dollars….Ali got 6 million, Inoki got 2 million. Simple arithmetic. They signed Inoki came to NY…Ali got $2 million, to sign and another three million later, but never never got the other $3 million,. Then in Japan, Ali leaves Japan Inoki & o. had to pay a 20% tax on the three million , which is $600,000 The gate that night was not much more than $600,000 and at the Kodokan, dollars. The people who made money were the people who ran the closed circuit Television across the world…Not Inoki. SO they got all this expense of bringing Ali over there staying with his entourage at the Keio Plaza for two weeks or however long they were there., Freddie Blassie. I knew him, I fought Freddie Blassie for the heavyweight title in 1963. August or September. I know him since 1958 in Tennessee.. Freddie was brought over to second Ali. Two days before the match, he says, Inoki is going to kill him/Ali., He will kill him. The match was on Saturday. Friday is when they had that meeting in Tokyo. Changed all the rules. Saw him Friday night, he said, he’s got his hands tied, I don’t know what is gonna happen know. Did you see it?
Q: Certainly was. Ali landed one punch and Inoki got an elbow in.
A: It was the worst thing I ever saw….There was a lot of behind the scenes cooperation in regards to Baba and Inoki. And it was the same thing with Inoki and Ali. One is worried he is going to lose and the other one is glad of it, and vice versa and nobody wants to lose face. Neither one wants to be #2 in their own company, in their own country,. IF one loses,, they can’t say they are #1 anymore. So they won’t wrestle.
Q: Which one do you think is better.
A: I think as an individual as a television personality, Baba is better.
Q: Wrestling skill.
A: Baba is bigger, stronger. He’s got better leverage., Inoki is faster. He has got more in his repertoire than Baba has. But you don’t need all that..
Q: What about strength. His arms are so thin compared to the rest of his body.
A: He is great from from his waist down. He gets his leverage because of his size and his arms. He pole axe somebody with hin, His arms are long, keeps a guy away from him..,.
Q: See him side swipe guys. Surprised at how easily they go down/. He is 6’10” and how much does he weigh?
A: 200 I have been hit by him before. Inoki’s faster. He is not in any better condition. Tremendous grip. He has got tremendous breath control. You know these things you blow in to, Baba can go on and on and on. I have never seen him get tired. He wrestles 60 minutes he gets winded. Anybody else gets tired.. …Sits around. Has a cigarette. Lifts a few weights, does some squats. But never runs. I run, 15 miles, then I work the cards with Jumbo Tsuruta. Deck of cards. You have a joker, do 4 different exercises. You turn over a card, 2 of hearts, you do 2 pushup.2 of clubs, do dumbbell curls. Diamond we do squats. King ..(garbled) Joker comes up …Try to go through the deck. As fast as you can, that’s a workout. Spades is a sit up. 3 of spades is 3 sit-ups. 4 comes up, you do 4. Go through a deck of cards, Good exercise …exercise to do at home. Face card is 10. Ace is 20. Joker is 50.
Q: 15 miles. I have never done 15 miles in my life. 15 minutes of running, that is about it.
Q: Inoki was scouted by Rikidozan. Brought to Japan by Rikidozan, Sent to the States to train by Rikidozan. Greg takes photos of Destroyer w/ mask. Friends come. You got a wide-angle lens? You will need it to get all that nose in.
A: Go to the WC, open the door, see girl in there, head into the john, the stench in the john, you know J. johns are so bad, and I pass out backwards. It was a lot of fun doing it.
A: (CM for toilet cleaner?) Girl, , people involved in it. We did did a lot of still shots. With the Parcolet and they wanted me to fall backwards like a wrestler falling down, but the floor was hardwood, had to do about 8-10 shots. They started laughing, have a good time, said that floor is starting to get hard, It was for a product that you put into a toilet. Or into a drain and it smells nicer. One special kind of film,….Then I did one with Chito’s, can’t each just one. Girl says I will give you some if you take your mask off, so I did by camera up so high or so low you couldn’t see.
Q: What was it like fighting Inoki?
A: I wrestled and beat Inoki when he first started wrestling, may 100 times in Oregon, He was there the whole year, we would have 250 matches a year and there would only be 6-8 wrestlers..So wrestled him quite a few times, then I when I went to Japan in 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, and wrestled in tournaments or tag team matches, that kind of thing, …I enjoyed it. He is a good wrestler. It was always a good match, because my style of wrestling, going all the way back to Rikidozan, I wrestled rough. I was a heel, but I wrestled. Nobody has ever come up and told me, or questioned whether my match was.,..they say wrestling is show…and I will show you…stroke .(garbled) that he gonna beat me. I will bet even people here, I have a lot of respect among these coaches because they have seen me wrestling out of Toronto, They always said that when you are on there…I have never had anybody question the honesty, the legality, cuz I wrestle. When you punch somebody, there is only so hard you can punch somebody. But when you go behind them, take them down, pick them up and hip lock them, nobody can say anything about it,.
Q: Any particular strategy when you wrestle Inoki?
A: No I stayed away from his flying scissors and his drop kick, he was very fast that way. Giant Baba, you got to watch out for his chops and his foot. W/ Jumbo Tsuruta, he likes an abdominal stretch. Jumbo has got more repertoire than Baba or Inoki. He has got drops kicks, he had got chops, he has got flying head scissors. Plus, he has got the stuff he learned from the Olympics. Suplexes. So Jumbo Tsuruta is that much better. He’s got Inoki & Baba moves, but he also has his own.
A: He is smaller. Got a lot of those moves, but he doesn’t have…& I haven’t seen him that much. What I have seen, moves a lot faster than what J. are accustomed to. J. Heavyweights move slower.
A: Kimura. He wrestles more along the lines….he is rough, tough style. Along the lines of Rikidozan. He had no finesse. A lot of guts and he was very tough. You would call Inoki, Tsutua, Billy Robinson, Funks, Destroyers, are wrestlers wrestlers, but Kimura was just like Rikidozan, rough, tough.
Q:What are Inoki’s weaknesses, when you fight him?
A: Legs, I got the Figure Four on him several times. I can get into his legs.
A: Baba, I can get underneath him. IF I get Baba down, then I work on his arms. Like you said, his arms aren’t that strong. Once he gets the leverage on you. But once you cut a big man down to size, he’s only about that tall.
A: A couple of weeks ago in Toronto, I wrestled Andrew the Giants, 7’4”450 pounds.,And they said why would you take a match like that? Because I got everything to win and nothing to lose. Nobody expects me to win. I didn’t win, but I took him down and it took him 27 minutes. He ‘s been to Japan, he’s beaten everybody. He’s beaten Inoki. He’s beaten everybody in Japan. ,It is tough to get him opponents, some guys 300 pounds won’t wrestle him. It was an opportunity. I know him, I have known him since I was in Europe in 1971. He is from France. Other than the height, he was exactly twice my size, his head was twice my size, his fist was twice my size. I weight 225, he is 450. Twice my weight.
A: He and I went to Bei Rudi’s together,. Andrew and I and drank until the wee hours at Rudi. At Rudi’s table. You ring the bell at Rudi’s ..Hit the bell., You usually you can only hit the bell at Rudi’s if you win at dice. But he doesn’t care. Whacks it all the time.,Flat of his hand. Booooommmm. If you hit the bell, though, you got to buy a round for the house. He didn’t care. I saw him spend $500 there one night….of course, Japan, spending %500 is nothing. Depends where you are. 8 guys at a table, drinking & eating, spend over 100,000 a night there, that is when it was 200 yen to the dollar.
Green) – Bei Rudi, a German beerhall and restaurant (sauerkraut and sausages)
in a basement near the U.S. Embassy in Akasaka, with boisterously gemütlich
band music and singing.
– The Caravanserai, elegantly Arabic (in the Casablanca manner), for quieter and more refined drinking and eating.
– Mon Cher Ton-ton, a super-expensive beef restaurant where the chefs prepared cubes of tender Kobe beef on the grill before you while you drank martinis.
– a gay bar, where hosts instead of the usual hostesses sat with you and professed to be erotically attracted to you. (Neither Stephen nor I was drawn in that direction, but it was fun anyway.)
– The Utamaro, in the outskirts of the city, most lavish of the many toroko or “Turkish baths” in Tokyo, where, in a private room with tubs and steam-boxes, a charming Japanese young woman (sometimes Chinese or Korean) treated you to a prolonged, sensuous bathing that could end in more active sex if you negotiated for that. (I once, later, took Max Loehr to this place for a treat—he remembered it as “like being a child again, bathed by my mother.”)
And there were others, which have dropped from my memory. We might end up in some small bar, talking with the bartender and eating one or another of the simple late-night dishes they put before you, along with your drinks—yakisoba was a favorite, sometimes ochazuke, the tea-over-rice dish that inspires such nostalgia In old Japan hands. And so back to the ryokan still by limousine, in the morning hours, happy and tired.
Q: What did Inoki think of the Ali nickname Pelican.
A: I wasn’t in that group. For 6 years he was with another group. I saw the match with Ali, I talked to Freddie Blassie prior to the match and that has been my only contact. I seen Inoki on 5 occasions. Always at Tokyo Sorts Press Awards. Best match of year, best tag team of year.. All 3 groups are together. That was the only time I saw Baba and Inoki in the same room. They never talk. Now I go talk to all of them, but other J. wrestler never get together and talk. If do, they get mad. I always associated w/ all my peers, all in same business…There are a few people I don’t like. I don’t like the Butcher. I wouldn’t go across the street to say hello to him. Another guy, Nikita Mulovich. He is the kind of guy who if you were sitting in a bar talking to a girl, he would go call up your wife and say “Hey, your husbands down here at the corner bar.” But 99% of fells in our business I would take home for dinner. How many other professions can you say that of? 99% of lawyers?
A: So I haven’t associated that much w/ Inoki., Saw him at Tokyo Prince Hotel.
Q: Dirty Fighter…
A:No fellow from Ukraine, tool and dye maker, came over here, big guy, promoter in Buffalo by the name of Mark Nez, made him a wrestler. But he is not well respected. He wrestled when he was in Europe. Even as a tool and dye maker. I can only think of those two real quick. He never done it to me, but I have been in places where he has done it. He doesn’t wrestle anymore. Was in Japan, once,.
Q: Promoters ever give you instructions. Chase guy outside ring.
A: No, every guy has his own schtick. He goes into the crowd, he cuts his head. Got to bleed. HE can’t do that in America, cuz he goes into crowd,,. They aren’t going to run like the Japanese do, they are not going to be afraid of him like the Japanese are. They are going to chase him back into the ring., In US there are a lot of states where you can’t go out of the ring. But J. say, Baba says, that’s’ what they want.
Q: Favorite food?
A: I like tempura, sukiyaki,
Q: Many Japanese don’t consider that J. food.
A: I many times went to eat sashimi, sushi at a sushi bar. I never thought I would miss sushi and rice and raw fish, but I do. A little Sapporo beer….There’s a Japanese steak house with cooks from Japan, called Arigato steak house. Run by a Jewish businessman. Get a good steak for 10 bucks.
Q: What do you consider dirty fighting, which you said you did.
A: I said dirty in the sense that I said rough. I would use an elbow and I would kick a guy. Ref said break, I break, go right back on him again., Foot kick.
Q: You mean you stopped doing that?
A: No not really But in the eyes of the Japanese I did.. The image changed.. I never thought my style changed that much. I would do it but they wouldn’t be mad at me anymore for doing it. See. Cuz I was doing it to Americans., It is what kind of eyes you are looking at m
A] Old time fans who saw me wrestle Rikidozan, says we want to see that Destroyer when he comes back to Japan . Some are girls in early 20’s , then they were 11 years old. They say, Destroyer very tough. They weren’ too happy w/ the Uwasa No Channel Destroyer., then
Lot of older Japanese, 35 year old who were 17 or 18, when I first came over there and they saw me wrestle Rikidozan. Like I explained many times to you, I was a wrestler.
Q: Where do you draw the line? What sort of things wouldn’t you do?
A: Don’t understand what you mean.
Q: You wouldn’t gouge somebody’s eyeball out
A: Never done it before.
Q: Biting somebody’s ear.
A: Never was an eye gouger because I never believed in it. But I have used an elbow, and kicked and pulled hair, and pulled tights. I would take advantage of the referee’s position to abuse and use ropes.. I would use my psychology, cuz if I did something and ref saw me and people saw they would get made at official. If they saw me but the referee did not see me, then they would get mad at the officials. .And this is where the psychology of being a heel takes place. You have to get the people made at you and not at the official.
Q: Would use a nail file, or slash a guys forehead. Hit somebody and a chair. Where do you personally draw the line between you and the other wrestler.
A: I personally draw the line Because I want to make sure that people understand that’s what I am doing and can accept what I am doing.. So I can answer your questions with an honest and logical answer.
Q: (next week, says Gregg, you wrestle Blue Demon on a tag team, , and next week it is Tex rules wrestlers, with chains. Would you bring in that sort of stuff?
Is that where you would draw the line? Would you do that type of thing?
A: No. But I have been in no holds barred match. I never saw one of these myself. This guy tucked a chain down his boots. And he took a wrench had spurs on his boots. And I don’t need that. There is too much a chance of getting hurt. Maybe they make good money on that, but he whacked the guy pretty good. Hit a guy w/ a chain you can’t pull that much. Cowboy spurts, , hurt the guy cut it up pretty good. But I draw the line there. I am a professional wrestler and I coach wrestling. I have to answer to every amateur wrestler about my wrestling. And I can honestly say no one ever questioned me or my professional as to the honesty of it, whether it was real or fake, they can see on TV, it is 100% honest.
Q: You are called ‘intelligent, sensational Destroyer.” This something that I used since I began as the Destroyer, they gave me the name because Destroyer is a ship in US Navy,not the biggest, not the fastest, but for its size, it is the most intelligent ship, the fastest and the strong ship in the fleet. And that is a good description of my self. For my size, I know as much professional wrestling as anyone.
Q: So would you say people who say pro wrestling is fake, that they just haven’t seen a real match.
Q: Front row.
A: There are people that go and might even say it, but they still go, like the Buffalo TV girl and she got very excited, did 800 feet. I don’t know if somebody…You either like auto racing or you don’t, or bullfighting, or pro wrestling…You like or you don’t like it….You want to see an accident, or a guy gored or some pro wrestling blood. This is a bloodthirsty crowd.
Q: Have you ever seen a pro wrestling match that you thought was fake.
A: I saw some very bad ones. I have seen a lot of them. But I never question anybody’s business. They sell Coca-Cola, and that is sugar water. To me that’s a fake. Go to a doctor, he say go home take two aspirin and get a lot of rest, and I think that’s a fake. Went to the doctor two days ago, one doctor said I should send a note home, and that she has screlosis of the spine started, very late in her life to have curvature of the spine, if girl gets it, she gets it before puberty and she has to have it checked before puberty or she is going to have a curvature of the spine for the rest of her life. So I checked her spine, at home, then made appointment, spent 4 hours waiting, two hours in office, in a private room for a hour, doc spent one hour. No curvature found. So I went in, broke hip in Japan, wrestler says put a lift in heel. A lot of people are, having trouble below my hip.,. so put it in, go ask doctor, he says put a lift in it. Just what the wrestler says. First time was free advice. The 2nd time, I have to pay the doctor. SO to answer your question, no, I have. Because I wasn’t in it, didn’t know about it.
Q: Ever seen a match where you thought a guy lost on purpose, just to build up excitement. Or becuz he won the previous one and wanted to build up interest for the match.
Q: What do you think could be done to make pro wrestling on a class with boxing where world titles are really world titles. Like Gushiken in Japan.. Entire nation watches. Topic of conversation.
A: I will answer your question two different ways. First of all, if you check ratings of pro-wrestling on TV you will find out they are high. Gushiken is one fighter in Japan who is very popular. He has charisma –the new word that everyone uses–now so to speak.. like his style of boxing. But you can find a lot of boxing that doesn’t have high ratings on TV. That they don’t watch it. Golf on TV. No big star. One tournament one guy. Next tourney another guy. Nicklaus is gone. So they go nobody watching. Wrestling is a very popular sport. It is the #3 sport in the world, attendance wise. #1 is soccer.#2 Horse racing, probably But wrestling is #3. From a magazine in Minneapolis Now what I would like to see is to have a point system like they have in amateur wrestling, so the people who watch it, takes a man down and after one minute, you score is 2-1, after one minute, Destroyer 10 after five minutes, Whiting 1, and I would be the winner. Draws are nothing. Germans understand this. ..Guy who kicks, pulls hair, loses a point,. Etc. that is the kind of system I would like to see.
TAPE 4 SIDE A
A: A scoring system so that I can walk down the street. He is asking me an intelligent question. I got to be able to give them an intelligent answer.
Q; So you could have a fight for the heavyweight championship of wrestling that would draw as much attention as the fight for the heavyweight championship of the world, and be universally recognized. There is minor confusion with WBC and WBA, but you have an idea who the best boxer is.
A: I understand what you are talking about. And I am sitting here thinking. I don’t know whether or not they will be able to do that w/ the various champions, I still think that as popular as wrestling is in the various areas, …Hoboken, Hilly, Pittsburgh, want to see that champion in that area….wrestling you saw was Mid-Atlantic, and they have there own loyalties…affections…so I don’t …wrestling has survived w/o all that…there are more six-figure wrestlers than any other sport, it survives on a completely different basis. How many boxers make money? Ali, Holmes, I can’t name 10 boxers that make that money Japan, many make that much is different wrestling groups. Fans understand the need to have multiple champions. There might be a match between Inoki and Baba but, but it won’t be for the title. Cuz they don’t want to lose the title….
A: Champion can’t be in that many places at one time…..boxing, boxers can’t fight that much. I don’t like boxing get punched in the head. Get punchy. Train every day. My body, I get take a body slam every day, but I am not getting head in the head. Boxers at Syracuse, are still punchy, think they had been boxing for 20 years.
Q: How long does it take to become a really accomplished wrestler, if natural ability is there?
A: Depends on individual. Aptitude. I started wrestling in college. Had natural ability. Started prow wrestling in October 1954. After first couple months, I said I was ready, ready to roll. Said Iwould werstle 5 years make a ton of money and retire. One night $500. Wow…But you got buses, trains, planes, hotels, soon the $500 goes, left with $200-. But I felt I could draw money and win by 1960, after six years in the business, went to BUffalor, they wouldn’t give me main event. I was 230 pounds, 5’10” too small. If you on main event, don’t draw, I lose. I said give me a chance. He said you buy the house, you guarantee what you will draw.. You give me 4 week average, I will meet that. That was $4500 a week. You give me check for $3,000 I will guarantee a $4,500 house. I didn’t have that kind of money. I was making $10-15,000 a year,. Went to Liberty Bank in Buffalo, got a two week loan. Gave him the money. No wrestler ever did that. It was Ilio DePaulo’s father. Wrestler by name of Ritz Von Eric. We doubled the average. Doubled the house. He gave me the check back. He said do it again, I was on main event for three week, that was in August, then I went back to Syracuse. In November, end of football season, I would wrestler after football practice, drove to Buffalo, wrestled the match, drove back. So I have confidence to go anywhere and draw money.
…football on Sunday is only an ad to get people to the park. (but not now)
In TYO, ouor NTV matches are promo to get people to come in Hokkaido Okinawa, they don’t know how to grass roots promote in J. so that is why TV is necessary, got to go to newspaper, local, get posters up, generate as much attention as possible. But J. have not been schooled to really promote. …I can promote. I run a raffle for my daughter’s school in Japan. went to different people, got people to donate, made up raffle tickets, printed them, got them out to kids, raised $2,000.
A: Wrestled in NZ, Australia, Germany, I walked around town w/ my mask on, went to newspaper, I am US heavyweight champion. Got wife 3 kids. Write a story. Next day, big story, loaded the house in the middle of the summer in NA. That was Wellington. Next week, Auckland, again. Went to newspaper, they wrote another story. Who is that screwball walking down the street w/ a mask on.
Q: In Japan, you can’t see results in papers, except Tokyo Sports.
A: Little back ground, Years ago Rikidozan created a little bit of animosity w/ a lot fo sportswriters, slapped a few of them around for not writing what he wanted them to write. …But if there was a point system, and better promotion, and press office had a liason. I call writers here in Buffalo, to get writer to come, but normally they don’t have enough to cover all. So I call all results into newspaper, or radio station….Other coaches don’t do that. …DJ says people are dying for this info. Why don’t bother coaches call them else…..so J, papers don’t have enough writers to cover the three wrestling groups in Japan. So they nee d PR office, a liason man to get the results out..
Q: They have enough to cover the games every night.
A: Depends on the sports editor….tonight guy came, covers HS sports, but 3-4-5 of them, doesn’t understand…But the interest is there; otherwise you wouldn’t have a TV rating, or people going to matches..
Q: If there were less matches there would be more interest in one match, but that is not true in baseball (Greg on a point system good for bb, )
A: I have gone to Kawasaki where only 500 people….Lotte play great bb…Gone to ballgame at 6*30 in Kawsaki and we wrestle across the street, 5,000 people in the arena , only 1500 in ballpark in Kawsaki, only 3 sportswriters, one from Tokyo sports one from (?), press, maybe one more, …but more people covering the game, yet more people interested in the wrestling across the street…
Q: (Gregg) so why
A: Maybe feelings vs Riki for slapping them or business of pro wrestling, but I don’t know the details, ..but in office there is not a PR man….wrestle in Omori Skate Center….in TYO wrestle in Korakuen, Kuramae, …people don’t know where we are wrestling, people should do a better PROMOTION system,.
Q: Yakuza have associated with pro ball in Japan, the black mist scandals, suspensions for life top level ballplayer like Ikenaga, Enatsu suspended for being associated w/ yaks,. Lot of betting on pro ball matches…Anything like that in pro wrestling? Betting, socializing?
A: There is some betting that goes on…Baba …You know as well as I do that gangsters like to be around show people, sports people,…Back in Rikidozan’s days, 90% of the towns were promoted by gangsters. He had a lot of yakuza friends, And I myself, innocently, a town , say Osaka, I promoted. I don’t know who the promoters are…They pick me up take me to dinner, , take me to cabaret, here, there and the next day…next day, Baba says, you can’t go out with those guys….I said, wakaranai, I don’t know., He told me one time, I have a very good friend in Shimonseki, his name is Hirano, and friend Sugiyama had a little pub there in Shimonseki,, he went to the matches, would bring us some fruits, beer, peanuts, et…go back to the hotel, take us out for steal,…Baba says he is a Korean gangster, Baba says the police were watching him. I said he is not Korean, he went to school in Kumamoto, Japan (garbled) , somebody got wrong information to Baba , …he went to school w/ a fellow by the name of Hilo, a professional wrestler, from Kumamoto, played HS bb w/ him. He watched me, he didn’t want me to get hurt…I have always explained that pro wrestling is the most honest sport there is, because there isn’t a lot of betting on it. No fixes. Nobody gets hurt….financially, I mean….where you get the heat in gambling is where people bet on a game that is fixed.
This is what I am talking about.
Q: Why no gambling in pro wrestling, since you see a lot of it in boxing and pro baseball., baseketball
A: I have no idea. I been to clubs and wagers going back and forth in different towns, but not done through bookies, if it’s a bookie, then you got to watch out, they are ALL SHADY….Don’t think there is enough interest in pro wrestling…
Q: Gregg. w/ large attendance, pro-wrestling so high, you would naturally assume it would happen in pro wrestling, …
A:In Japan, bb is number on, sumo is #2, and wrestling is #3. Spectator sports
Q; Horse racing in there somewhere.
A: Mr. Hara, Azabu ju-ban, had a horse race, play 2-3, pay 10,000 yen…in J. who bet combos.
Q: In pro wrestling, results are not that easily attainable, so hence no gambling,
(Gregg: ever felt there was a fix, that was affected by gambling…5-1 favorite loses..?
A: No, nothing that I can think of….6 years 200 bouts a year…I wrestled 1500 matches
Q: Nobody ever asked you not to win?
A: No, the only time was the night in Hammatsu, 6 man tag-team match, harsh arguments, two groups in back, everybody scared to death, normally…around wrestling, you see the ring, main event in ring a lot of young wrestlers sitting outside, As seconds, …cheering on, watching wrestling…this particular night, they are all turned around, watching the aisles, I am in the corner, watching the corner, other guy on other side is watching that corner,….two different factions arguing about …they were going to blow up the ring…I have worked out only w/ one opponent in my life, prior to a match, to make sure that the match, on TV, was good, and that was with a bear….a live bear…
I was in LA, wanted to put the match was on live TV. Bear was named Victor the Bear. They say how long can you go, DK what I can do. So we worked out with the bear to see what I can do..Amazing what this bear could do, flying mare, leg dive,, bear hug, double the slots(?),…did a movie on it, great movie, marquee says Destroyer vs. Victor the Bear great movie …gets me in a bear hug, ..sucks up the end…He did a monkey flip…He gets underneath you this way, falls back, bring him over, take feet… The bear was brought in a people’s house, he was declawed in front, had a mask on, so he couldn’t bite..Trunk stuck out about that far. claws in back, did that…A bear is a natural wrestler. …Just told Free Form Sports disc jockey, 7-12. Gave story about guy who wrestled 800 pound bear, said, bear was a natural, uncanny, ..If you sit in front of him he will clobber you w/ a paw,…bear leaned on me, then sat on me, heavy… But Victor was 400 pounds…It went 10 minutes, a n exhibition, not a contest,
Q: How about an alligator?
A: No, I will tell you a story, Tuffy Truesdale, is the same guy…He ahs the bear. Goes to sporting goods shows, has these alligatyors, had the bear and the alligators, wrestles them on stage, bears wrstles with audience members, playes with thenm…Minneapolis, cold, frozen alligator, let him out of the cage, ….alligators put a noose around him, big cheer, but the alligator was frozen…
Q: Boa constrictors.
A: No. wrestled bear in a contest in Moline, Illinous, I elbowed bear, he ran out of bthe ring, never came back, True story. SO I can say I made bears run.
Q: 800 pound bear not scaray.
A: Can whack you in head, if he catches you w/ paw he can kill you…First experience w/ bear, wrestler in Tennessee Irish Pat Malone. He had a house, garage, bear ….bear walked in garage everyday, looked for first person, would stand right up, ready to go..and you would wrestle, if you sat down, eh bear looked for the next person…..go for 20, 30 minutes, anybody standing, he would go after him, if nobody stand, put him back in cage, …That’s how I got to the point where I could do something with the bar,/….it’s how I got over my fear of the bear….have photos of my son in 1970, my son, in Hawaii on tour, he is 2 years old, marshmellow in mouth, Victor the Bear was there, brought up with a lot of kids, and baby feeding bear with marshmellow and coca cola.
Q: SO there are two kinds of pro wrestling. One more of a show than it is a sport, the other is a sport…I don’t particularly enjoy all the theatrics, chairs, out of ring, etc..I am just a typical sports fan, don’t know what it is like to be a pro wrestler, , s I don’t know how much punishment a guy can take, given all the training and the conditioning that he is in.. It strikes me as being a bit too bizarre. It’s an act…whereas wrestling like we saw tonight, are really good wrestling, that is what is exciting, skill vs. skill. Showmanship But if you go one way, that you lose a certain audience…..release tension by vicarious experience of violence (Gregg: unhappy t work, come home, open beer, turn on TV, in many cases really wanted to see the blood, it is a kind of release.,,,The Butcher is like the boss to them
A: I have explained thi s many times the same way. We hhave Wea re great psychologist. Don’t have to go see a headshrinker, just watch wrestling. Kids love wrestling cuz their emotions can come out. Against a villain. Married woman mad at old man, or vice-versa, but in our sport, older poepel and younger people, can’t yell at people, teacher, mother father, but the can yell at the TV…I say many times on TV, listen here you frustrated women, if you want to see a man w/ anice looking body, don’t aggravate your husband, just come out to the ring and watch the match…Husband getting a little fat, but I am in great shape. So this is 1005 true, we are great for getting inner emotions out, all sports, entertainment, like that, but ours is more so because not necessarily, good guys and bad, but you are going to pull for someone, let him up leave him alone,…There was a woman at one of the matches, when I was sitting at the timer’s desk, on the other side, but there was a woman who was here, the coaches, son, she was all over the scorekeeper…..
Q: In pro wrestling, sometimes, you lose that tension because of overdone matches. Stick a nail in forehead, this is not real…
A: But certain part of population wants to see that…you are not part of the population, could talk to you for 100 years and not convince you to be a fan…come to see me, you will like me…
Q: Just two guys no capes, n swords,
Q: Gregg: I like the to see Baba attack the Butcher on TV. Butcher puts rope around Baba’s neck.l Everyone boo’s. Everybody on side of Baba. But it is a release, kind of interesting to watch, knowing not in great danger.
Q* But they are in great danger/
Q: But Dicks aid maybe they are not…
A: Maybe not, ….
Q: Answering the question as a pro wrestler promoter or an individual?
Q: (Gregg) Would a wrestler really try to main somebody? Break and arm. Paralyze
A: Some would. Some do…Sometimes personal animosity. Guy gets mad. It happens. But the majority are in the same business. They are going to try to win, but not try to kill the guy, because it affect business….Don’t want to have some other wrestler lose hs his source of income.
Q: Gregg: so if you whack a guy w/ a chain, and knocks him out, it wouldn’t mean anything, so next draw is much less….You missed 2 guys came I with cowboy boots, spurs, chains, bandages across forehead…..I have these nails on bottom of my cowboy boots, you will see imprint of nail three inches into guys head.
A: These two guys have an issue ,
Q: Gregg: First of all that is manslaughter at the worst. If we weren’t in ring, in streets of Buffalo and doing something like that, the police would come and arrest you. Give us a year in prison, yet, in mass TVG, that is condoned.
A: They have to watch it…cuz you don’t see that violence on TV…You have to go pay to see it…IF on TV, they would cut them off right away in the States. In Japan, there is much more violence, cop show, even cartoons, are more violent. My son 6-7 years old, one cartoon, girls strips changes clothes to superwoman, one point, you see tits, neighbors kids, my sons all there ware watching it …Can you imagine., My wife says, this is unreal. …Is 11 p.m. show getting any worse? Inre nudity.
A: No public hair, but anything else is ok. (what about Dr. Ikasemasu?) Anything ok, violence, rope around neck, tits ok, but no public hair
A: No pussy, no pricks
Q: Inre Gregg’s question, if it happens in the ring, are authorities lenient about that…
A: In near future. There have been lawsuits in ice hockey, and football, Patriots and Raiders, lawsuit over something that happened in game, Oakland player hit an Boston player, there is a lawsuit in that, there might be in the not too distant future…
A: No prerequisite to get a license in pro wrestling. There is a lot of money in it, so if it is fake why don’t you get into it…to somebody who questions my business is fake…Lot of money many make 100,000 dollars a ring…so you try it, you will see when somebody picks you up and throws you into turnbuckle, or slams you down, it hurts.
TAPE 4 SIDE B