Karl Gotch & Jake Shannon Chat (10/31/04) Part Two

Jake Shannon - February 24, 2017
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KG: I didn't know he was a promoter. That's the guy that died that got married. He looked at me. He said, "That guy is small." As big as I was sport … 245…

JS: Well, he was a sumo, right?

KG: Yeah, but he wanted to do a real big guy. Bill Miller said, "Moe? How many guys you got there?" He said, "I work for free for you if you went for three months in those times." Like similar season. It's fall and spring. It's three months. He said, "I'll work for you for free. If you can't work too well, you die." He said, "Are you shitting me?" He said, "No." He said, "What about you?" He said, "He just said the same with me he said with all you guys."

And then the first match I had was in Tokyo Palace. I saw the guy. He was a college sumo champion and he was pretty good worker, too. We worked there. But the way I worked over there was they asked me. They said, "Can you go through with him?" I said, "Sure. Why not?" Because he thought nothing of me. He thought I was a small guy. So, by the time the match was over, I got a standing ovation. They never saw that before in Japan.

JS: Wow.

KG: That's when they nicknamed me the God of Wrestling.

JS: Ah. And you traveled and stayed there for a long time, right? Training people …

KG: Yes …

JS: … and helping out.

KG: Yes. The second tour I came. I was to go in the morning and get up, and then you go on the tour.

JS: Fujiwara was the best.

KG: Yes.

And all of a sudden, there was a good friend of mine. An American. He liked me -- Jim Wright. His brother was a tough guy -- Rube Wright. But Jim was just a big, strong guy. And all of a sudden I heard that booming voice from Jim Wright. "Hey, Kraut. If you want to go back home on a slow boat to China, you're doing a hell of a job."

I thought, "Oh, Christ." I said, "What the fuck. Five hundred bucks a week." So I pulled the guy. Put him on me. One, two, pump. Pushed him up. But everybody knew I was just playing. So, I didn't go back for a year, then, because he didn't want.

JS: Maybe you like to be unpopular.

KG: I don't know. I seem to have a knack [of] it. Well, when you're honest and you're fair, you always…

JS: Yeah. And you know what? It's rare that you find somebody that's on the level.

KG: I told that to too. That's why I planted myself here. The first night he saw me working out, I was working in Paris and I got a telegram from Quinn. You know, the promoter from Montreal?

JS: I'm not familiar with him.

KG: He's dead now a long time already. He was actually from Chicago, but he lived in Montreal, too. I went there and that's how I came to the States. He brought me over.

JS: Via Montreal.

KG: Yes. Because I worked in Montreal, then and now later on. Because when we were working from Montreal, we went once for a show to Chicago. That's when I saw Thesz really swatting a guy around with the booker from Montreal. So, he had seen me.

He saw me doing that suplex. I said, "Jesus Christ. I'm glad I never seen him." "Jesus. Is that the world champion?" So, he came back and he said he watched my match because when he saw me, he congratulated me. I said, "Yeah, I saw your matches here. It's alright for you, but I tell you one thing." He looked at me. I said, "If you ever do that to me, one of us is going to stay there and I know which one." With everybody in the dressing room. Well, they all laughed. I was together with the boys but with the promoters …

JS: Yeah …

KG: And he was in. And Sam Muchnick. And Bill Longson.

JS: The NWA guys …

KG: And here there was a trio. And so that was the end of the line.

JS: We've talked about this before. You keep telling me that for somebody like me to want to learn some real Catch, whether it's American Catch Wrestling or Lancashire Catch-As-Catch-Can wrestling, that it's a lost art. But I'm telling you. I'm persistent and I want to figure out a way. I mean, I've done my best to track down … I've talked to you. I've talked to a couple of other guys that know a few hooks and stuff. But as a whole, what's going to happen with the art do you think?

KG: Well, I built it up real hard. I'm one of the Last of the Mohicans and I kept it up around here and then I built it up in Japan. The thing is I'm old and I'm crippled up, now. Now I've got to do …

JS: With the hips …

KG: With the hips. So, you'll have to have another sucker coming around and it takes a lot of sacrifice. You've got to know what you want. And it's a job. The first thing you've got to do is conditioning. If you've got no condition, you got nothing. And then you've got to learn and you've got to think wrestling is like mathematics. It's leverage. And where you put your foot. No matter how big your lever is, if you don't put the focal in the right place, you ain't got nothing. So, this is what you got to study.

And then you've got to figure out most of the holds. The hooks are on the floor. That's why the old saying comes in "moves get killed on the floor." Standing up -- you can't make nobody submit standing up. A face lock -- it hurts a little bit, but that's more a softening up, switching up to the leg, banging it and down and once you've got him down, that's it. And then you've got all the varieties of it. He has to learn to work arm, leg and head, left and right. And you go from the right leg to the left arm then to the head. Or from the head to the right arm to the left leg. That's what you've got to learn.

It's not easy. That's why you don't see it anymore in college -- or nothing anymore. Even wrestling, in a lot of places -- they'd even get it out of the college. Why? Because people that watch it -- they have to understand it. They look at this bullshit on television …

JS: Yes …

KG: Every clown. Well, to me, it's like the Three Stooges. You know it's not wrestling. So, when you go there and you see two guys … Plus the guys, the way they move, they don't have the setups and movement that you're going to be with.

JS: Well, because they don't have to worry about the hooks in the college wrestling.

KG: Yes, but even if you don't have to worry for the hooks, when you work, you switch. You have to go around from thing to thing. I see them. They just sink down, riding time. Excuse the expression, but it looks like a whore where the customer lays down.

JS: That's definitely one way to put it. There definitely…I don't think there's a lot of venues. Do you think maybe one way to bring it back would be to start some sort of tournament or something that would be held strictly under old Catch-As-Can-Can rules?

KG: No.

JS: No?

KG: No. Because they've come to nobody knows. You've got to get some guys to work. There's a couple of guys here and there that make a couple of schools. It's a wrestling school. They get them enrolled to learn from the bottom. It takes time.

JS: Tell me. Who are the good guys? Who's left? Because you keep telling me your hips aren't going to let you teach it, so who else is?

KG: I don't know. I haven't met anybody.

JS: What about Fujiwara? Is he any good?

KG: Yes, but he's old, already. And he's in Japan …

JS: Yeah, that makes it tough.

KG: Well, all right. I'll let you go now, because this is costing you money.

JS: It's all good. It's only thirty cents a minute or something, but I appreciate your time, sir. You're always been so good to me, man. You tell me all the good stuff.

KG: No. I just tell you how it is. I don't bullshit. If I can't tell you the truth … That's why I don't have too many people who want to talk to me because they don't want to hear the truth.

JS: Well, one of these days it's going to be the persistent German versus the persistent Irishman in a sudden death match about getting this interview done, because I've got to get this interview. I'm very persistent.

KG: You know, it's like [what the English say]? Like feeding pearls to the swine? What are you going to do with it?

JS: I don't know.

KG: People don't want it anyway.

JS: But Mr. Gotch, this is the point. The point is that I'm not trying to sell magazines and I don't want to sell it to swines. What I want is I want to have a record of you -- a legit man -- telling it how you see it for history's sake. For science.

KG: That's why...I did it one time. The first time I came here, they got me an interview on television. They said, "You know, you move really graceful. We could do a lot of things." They were surprised the way I moved and what I did. They said, "So, what do you think about American wrestling?" I said, "Well, from what I heard, and from the friend of mine that I met that was over in Europe …" You know Benny Sherman, but he was old already. Finished when he was 80.

I said, "They had very good ones over here. But what you've got here now is nothing but a load of shit." Right there on television. Because now they compare the American wrestler with the European wrestler. I said, "Our armies would make circles around you."

Yes. There you are. And there as well. And when I said that -- after that I was buried alive. I never got nowhere anywhere. I told them the time before. So, he kind of smiled, but he moved off. And then with that interview, that was it. After that, they brought me flowers every week.

JS: Brought you flowers?

KG: Yes. On my grave. They buried me good.

JS: That's too funny. All right. Well, you keep thinking about it, sir. I'm going to keep asking you until someday you're going to hopefully …

KG: You'll have to hurry up because I ain't got too many years left …

JS: Well, then I'm going to call you every day. Well, I'll call you every week. How's that?

KG: All right. Fine.

JS: Okay. Well, you have a great, great Sunday and I'll talk to you soon.

[End]