Karl Gotch & Jake Shannon Chat (11/14/04) Part One

Jake Shannon - April 12, 2017
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JS: Yes, is Mr. Gotch there?

KG: He is. That's me.

JS: Hey, this is Jake Shannon, your friend in L.A.

KG: Oh, what's cooking?

JS: How are you?

KG: All right.

JS: Good, good. I just wanted to call to check in on you. Hope everything is going good.

KG: Well. I'm still alive. That means a lot, right?

JS: You're doing better than alive. I'm sure you were down working out this morning, too, huh?

KG: Oh, yeah. I do. When you're young, you should -- when you're old, you must.

JS: Yeah. It's like religion with you, huh?

KG: Well, yeah.

JS: Hey, a couple of things. I wanted to ask you about a guy by the name of Waino Ketonen.

KG: Yeah.

JS: Do you know anything about him?

KG: Oh, yeah. What do you want to know?

JS: Everything that you know.

KG: Well, he was the greatest amateur wrestler that Europe ever produced. In his time, he was unbeatable. And if I remember right, I think he won two Olympics -- one I know for sure. And we had a friend from Finland.

JS: I see.

KG: Yeah. The guy that I started with -- he wrestled him. He came second. He was practically the "God of Wrestling," too, but I think he was better than him.

JS: What time frame was that? When Ketonen was wrestling?

KG: Before the First World War?

JS: Oh, wow. So, he was an amateur wrestler, but did he know any hooks or anything?

KG: Oh, that's just … When you look for that, then it's a lost art. At that time, it was still around, but it was already dying out because like I told you the story. All the promoters killed it. Basically it was the Americans, because you had the mixture of all the nationalities. It came over here with the English. With Lancashire Catch. And then everybody that came in -- they brought in a little of their own. Like Germans did some. But then especially like around Eastern Europe. The Turks. And all that -- they're very good wrestlers.

JS: That's interesting. I was doing some research and I came across his name.

KG: Oh yeah …

JS: And everybody speaks of him highly as being a very, very good wrestler.

KG: A very simple guy. And he looked like nothing. He looked like he was long and lanky -- only he had a very good neck. He had a helluva neck on him, but otherwise he was a big thing. You would put the 10 guys up or 20 guys up and say, "Who would you prefer to wrestle first?" He'd say, "Give me him." The mistake of your life. Fred Grubmeyer was the same way.

JS: Yeah, I've heard about him, as well, but there's not a lot of information on him. They called him the …

KG: He was strictly a pro.

JS: The Iowa Cornstalk or something I've heard him called.

KG: Yeah. He used to go around and suck people in.

JS: Oh, on bets?

KG: Yeah. Because he looked like nothing. And then he'd go into town -- because that was in the day with the pros -- when you had him around. He couldn't go and get a match because [when they] heard his name, they would have backed out. So, he came in like a … Jones' spit on no matter what, and he looked like a beanpole.

And he was always chewing tobacco. So when he shows some of that, he'd come in and say, "Oh, I've got some money," like he's selling some cattle. And you know, they did it more like foot races. He'd bet on himself. You know why? I can beat anybody here. And he'd lose. Then there were a list of what you say. You know farm people?

JS: Yeah, true.

KG: He said, "Oh, I can beat him," and he'd lose again. He'd lose them a couple of things. Then he comes in and he says, "I can wrestle him. I can beat the best guy of UAW wrestling." You know that that sucker, that when he's with him, racing and resting and this and that, and then he bet, you know. He'd then take side bets and everything, too. They thought they was going to take him to the cleaners. Forget it. A guy found out he was no Jimmy John, because he let the guy take him down. They was on the grass. So, he turned, "Oh, well." But he couldn't do much, and all of a sudden, boom. When the betting was over and the bets were all in, a position got switched or Grubmeyer got on top and he flipped that scissor in and then it was curtains. It was the end of the line.

JS: And by that time, the odds had shifted really heavily.

KG: Well, he worked that way. He made the guy look good. He could do it, because he was one helluva wrestler. But he looked the shits, you know? You looked at him. You said, "Oh, Jesus."

JS: That's pretty funny. It seems like not only is it the art, it seems like … How do you call it? What is it? A lost art?

KG: Yeah.

JS: But it seems like not only that, but the history of it is kind of lost, too. Like not a lot of people know about these characters.

KG: Because nobody wants to know, you know?

I always put myself down because, on the contrary, I learned that from the old-timers. What do you say for running? That you can't run the 100 meters in 11 seconds. That's pretty good, right?

JS: Sure.

KG: That's because the world record, now, is that longtime stand-up then, too, with that Jesse Owens. Now that he got nine in so many. But let's just say eleven, for getting an idea. If I could run eleven, I'd say I could run it in twelve or thirteen.

JS: Right. Exactly.

KG: I learned that from the old-timers, because if I get beat now, they'll say, "Oh, he said so." But if you're going to come out and say it was eleven and you just have a day off and you can't even make it and you get beaten, it's, "Look at him."

JS: Underpromise. Overdeliver.

KG: Yeah.

JS: Yeah, that's smart.

KG: So, that's what I always did. I learned that from the old-timers. Although I was lucky in that way, because I came in just on the tail end and I had to discover a lot myself because there was nobody around anymore.

JS: So, a lot of experimentation on your own?

KG: Yeah! It was a gift that I had. You know? Well, because I went crazy about it. I used to eat, dream, and sleep wrestling. It was all I had. I was lucky, in a way, because I grew up. And the neighbors of us -- he was a good guy. He was a good swimmer. He got killed by his own hostility, you know.

JS: Oh, no.

KG: And he had a little sister. And she swam. And [we] were always together. We grew up together. She became my wife, and she died, now, about …

JS: Yeah, I know. I'm sorry about that.

KG: In 1995. So, you know, I never had any … I'm lucky I had that, because otherwise the only girl that would have interested me was one who was in the cruelty of animals. Because I never have no time for that. All I ever did was train, train, train and train. You go out and train. And then I worked out a lot, too, and found all different kinds of ways of working out. But mostly the wrestling -- you've got to practice on the mat and look for it. See for it.

JS: And your wife was pretty patient with the wrestling …

KG: Oh, yeah. She was a very nice woman.

JS: That's good.

KG: Oh, no. She was not "won" in a toss.

JS: Well that's…

KG: She was one in a million. That helped me too, you know?

JS: You're a very lucky man. I've been with a couple of different women, and they're not so patient about the wrestling, sometimes. They don't understand.

KG: Oh, no. Don't get me wrong because Jesus Christ, who am I to judge? I'm glad I'm living, here. But you know, American women are spoiled rotten. The old-fashioned ones that first came over here from Europe and so -- before the First World War -- they were women. They stood beside their men. Now, they're all like good-time Charlies -- the same like the guys.

JS: Yeah. And they divorce …

KG: They just want a good time. They don't want to work. They don't want to do this. They don't want to do that.

JS: And half the time they're just looking to get married so they can divorce and take half of everything.

KG: Yeah. Like anything else, if you've got a kid … You know, a woman should stay at home. Education with the children starts at home with your mother and father. No. They all say, "Oh, we can't make it. I'll get a job." Sure. They don't want to keep house. It's too much work for them. They want to go to work where they can chat and they have a good time and then make up the same time.

JS: Yeah. You're 100 percent right. That's totally right.

KG: And then when the kids go to school, they want the teachers to educate that kid and to learn them about life. No! Education starts at home, from when you're born. Your mother and father drum that in you.

You know, when I went to school -- boy that was a rough neighborhood. You know, the waterfront? You know, the teachers were all 6' and 200 pounds because some of those kids were pretty big. And they were a bunch of bastards. Everything you can do, I can do better. They would always outshine the other guy. So, you got whacked by the teacher pretty good, because when he caught you or something went wrong, you got your ass kicked.

Now, these days, the teacher cannot even look crosswise or give him a bad word. Otherwise they sue him or you've got this and that. In my time, when you got your ass kicked from the teacher and you went home, you hoped nobody found out because otherwise you got another one.

JS: Right …

KG: So, you got it both sides. But now, they don't. They don't do nothing for their kids. They want children, but you want [them like] you get them delivered in a package -- already everything done. You just have to put them in the oven and then the meal is ready -- like those ready-made meals.

JS: Right.

They want the whole life like that.

KG: Yeah. And they take everything. That's why it's a joke. But the trouble is, they say, "Oh, America … America is bad." No, there's nothing bad with America. America is the greatest country in the world. The only thing -- the people are rotten, because you've got everything here you want. People, you know, they're spoiled because the old saying goes. Too much of the good is bad. And that's it. What you can't have in no other country, you have here.

Look at me. I've got nothing. I'm sitting in the room, but still I've got a little apartment. It's the shit, but I've got what I want. I've got television and I've got the radio.

JS: I don't think a lot of modern Americans are very shrewd students of history [and] know [that] just as little as 150 years ago, everyday life was really …

KG: It was horrible.

JS: Yeah, it was very horrible. There was no real refrigeration. The roads weren't that great. There were no airplanes. No television. No radio. I don't think people understand that and what's funny is everybody complains today and goes to therapists and counselors and all this -- I think because they have so much free time.

KG: That don't help. You have to make up your own mind. You know what? I'm sitting here and the guy is telling me about psychology or this or that. They tell me what I should do and how I get through life. If I don't get off my ass, I ain't going to do it.

It's just like saying to the guy, right after the operation, and you know I say -- what you call rehabilitating. The guy was there and I made the full squat. That's something, because I [had] both hips done at once. Then, in the old way, when they saw it off, and they cut the back of your ass all open and dislocate a bone, boy you've got pain now. Instead of the big slit, you've got two small slits. The pills are different, but the process is the same.

But they go in. They cut the bone off. They take it out, and they put that thing in. Some people get released the same day -- me. To get up from a laying position to a sitting position to stand up, whew. I saw Jesus Christ walk on the water.

JS: It was pretty painful, huh?

KG: Oh, man. I had both of them done at the same time. You see, I had no support no place. Then when I sat down on the bed and had to lay down again, there I went again. In the beginning, when you lay down, you cannot turn over on your side because otherwise it pops out. That was the way it was the old way.

You know, the day they started the thing … After my operation was finished, about a month later, he came with this new thing.

JS: Oh, no.

KG: That's why I said I would have been a lot better off, but what are you going to do?

JS: Yeah. I mean, what can you do?

KG: Yeah. That's me. That's the way my life was all the time.

JS: Let me ask you this. You're so famous for saying that conditioning is the greatest hold …

KG: That's it …

JS: Okay, so that's the greatest hold. Then what would, in your opinion, be the second and third and maybe fourth greatest hold?

KG: It depends on the guy. See, everybody is different.

JS: I've always heard in catch wrestling, there was three main fields -- in terms of the hooks, anyway -- that you would focus on. Whether it was some sort of head lock or neck crank would be one. The other was like double wristlocks and the last one would be toe holds.

KG: Oh, but it depends on the kind of a guy. Everybody has his own specialty. But when you don't go and look for nothing, you'll have somebody right in your hand. When you wrestle, you wrestle from left to right, and up and down. Like say I set you up on the head to go move over to your left arm and wind up with your right leg. So, coming up, you do the same thing on the opposite side. Wrestling is not as easy as you think, you know. All those guys that use strength, I used to get those guys. They were so strong.

I don't know. I forgot the guy's name. I think he came second in the Olympics in 1932 in Los Angeles …

JS: Okay …

KG: He was a good wrestler. He got beat by another guy. He looked like a Russian. He was afraid to move afterwards too. You know, his apartment. A small part. So, this guy was good, right? He just came out of the Olympics. He beat everybody.

So, we heard about John Pesek. You must have heard of him, right?

JS: Oh, sure, of course.

KG: So, he went over to Havana. That's where John lived. And he lives on a farm.

JS: That was in Nebraska, right?

KG: Yeah. And he wants to work out with him. Check it out, you know I forgot his name and all. And you can look it up in the thing, you know, because you've got the computer, something, yes?

JS: Mm-hmm.

KG: Or you can look it up easier. He was the champion and I think a light heavyweight he was. Light heavyweight or heavyweight.

JS: He went to work out with Pesek, huh?

KG: He had to work out with John. Jesus Christ. After about five minutes, he said, "Stop. What the hell am I doing here?" I had the same thing … You remember this guy, Don Curtis?

JS: The name is familiar.

KG: He wrestled and he was an amateur champion up in New York State, you know. He turned pro. He had heard about me and he came over to Ohio and he wanted to work out with me. He was always in very good shape. A very good handball player. A very nervous kind of guy. We became pretty good friends afterwards.

So, he came to me. He said, "I want to work out with you." I said, "Oh, sure. Why not." And the old man -- he got a barn. You walked up. At the end of the barn was the floor. It was making like the attic in the barn. It made us a gym. There was a ring and punching bag and everything there …

JS: Oh, nice.

KG: And there was a mat the old promoter left. He did that because he liked wrestling. We were up there. We got on the mat. I think it went on about three or four minutes. He goes insane. He said, "Fuck you! Stop. Fuck you! What the hell am I doing here?"

And I looked at him. "You're trying to wrestle. And believe me, I'm nice to you." He walked out. Later we became good friends. But he walked out. I said, "What about it? Let's do some more." He cursed me again. He just took his clothes. He didn't even wash or nothing. And boom. He walked out. I had a lot of guys like that, but I never said nothing to him.

You know wrestling -- you cannot go by saying this is a good hooker. It depends on the person. Me, I stay with toeholds a lot, but you know, I can face walk probably what you call head crank. That's nothing but the setup to the takedown. That's not for a submission. That only one that you can make submit with that is a choir boy. Not wrestlers. Well, I think I'm going to give myself something to eat.

JS: Okay.

KG: Because I know your time is a lot different than mine. Mine is time because I eat only twice a day. Not that I try to be rude or [am] brushing you off. Because I admire you for what you do because this is costing you a lot of money to talk with an old clown here.

JS: No, what are you talking about? I sincerely -- I don't know how to say it -- maybe cherish all the conversations that we have. It's great.

KG: Well, I've tried to give you on what occurs. I'll help you if I can.

JS: One of these days, I'm going to get you for that interview. One of these days.

KG: Oh, no, no.

JS: One of these days. I'm a persistent …

KG: I know you've long enough. I never go back on my word.

JS: I'm a persistent Irishman.

KG: I gave that thing -- that interview -- because that one guy. I told you the story, yes?

JS: Yeah.

KG: Well, and that was the end of interviews. I never gave one again. I told him. If that's the way you guys go do it, I said, count me out. I've had many people asking me for it. Some would even ask me on television. Well, before you hang up, you're going to laugh.

I was up in New York State, and I'm talking … The guy was a good talker. He was the father of this clown that does the wrestling now. What do they call him? He's got the last name. The promoter there in New York.

JS: Oh, McMahon?

KG: McMahon. His grandfather had been a promoter for boxing. His father was in boxing, too, but then he switched into the thing, into wrestling. And he, because of the boxing that he had been, he got his foot in the door, because otherwise you couldn't get into Madison Square Garden. They wouldn't get that chance in.

So, his son -- he broke in as a thing, a commentator. Well, the guy before him -- he was good -- a real good commentator. He saw me. He liked the way I wrestled. Then I talked with him. He got the interview real good. So, another guy got me, then, for an interview, because they got rid of him to give it to the son. You know that. You know about that. To break the son into the business, he was now being a promoter and the wrestling.

So, they asked me. They said, "Oh, yeah. You're from Europe? You're European Champion?" Oh, yeah. He said, "Well, you're living in America, now? You're here in America?" I said, "Yeah." He said, "What do you think about wrestling?" I said, "It's a living."

I didn't say much. He said, "Who do you think is the best wrestler in the world?" So, at that time, you had all those [Lou Thesz] and all that. I said, "Me." I said, "You've got two. One guy -- he's a real strong guy. He's Italian descent, but with an English background. Bert Assirati. He's a real powerhouse and he's built like a cannonball. Very hard to handle. The other guy looks like nothing, but he's like the same like Grubmeyer, only a little better built. A little bigger.

I said, "His name is Billy Joyce. He's a magician on the mat." He said, "What do you think of Lou Thesz?" I said, "Not." He said, "What about the wrestlers here in America?" I said, "I'm sorry. At one time, they used to be the best in the world, because they all had them here. All I see now is the leftovers of a chicken dinner." Well, I was not surprised, but that was my first and my last interview on television.

JS: That's funny.

KG: They were asking me even more. I just said it offhand. Nothing mean and bad was [meant]. Just casual.

JS: That's very funny.

KG: But they didn't think so. That was the last.

JS: Did you ever meet George Gordienko?

KG: Yes. I met him a couple of times.

JS: How was he? Did you ever wrestle with him?

KG: No. I never wrestled him. But I met him a couple of times. George -- because I think he's dead now.

JS: Yes. He passed away a couple of years ago.

KG: He was a strong man and he trained on weights.

JS: I see.

KG: He did one thing. One time he took a leap and he landed on his hands and then it was a handstand and he did 10 push-ups, which I admired. I thought it was pretty good.

There was another guy, and he was a black man. A real nice fellow. And he had been a very good football player. He asked me one time -- and I hated to say it -- because I met his family, once, and they guy was a real sweetheart. A real good guy. And his name was Luther Lindsay.

JS: What was his name?

KG: Luther Lindsay. He was a very, very strong boy, but he was nothing [as] a wrestler. But he knew it, himself, because he started wrestling later after football.

JS: After football. Sure.

KG: To make a living. Luther. In the interview they asked me, and if I don't say nothing you know, I don't have anything to tell them. I said, "No, he's not a wrestler, but he's a very, very strong man. Which he was. And very well built, too.

JS: Interesting. Interesting. Well, I won't keep you. I now you've got to get back and get some food in your stomach.

KG: Yeah. I've got to do something because it's three o'clock. By the time I've got it made, it will be about four.

JS: Okay.

KG: And then I sin, see. I have my daily sin. After my daily meal, I have a glass of red wine …

JS: Oh, nice.

KG: And then I have my second cigar.

JS: What kind of red wine do you like?

KG: The one that is good is from California. It's not expensive. Paisano.

JS: Paisano? What is that? Is that like a chardonnay?

KG: No. It's just a red table wine.

JS: Huh. Paisano.

KG: Yeah. I don't like to go for the French wine because you pay for the import. It's just like when I buy my cigars, I go to an old guy that makes them here. You know, the Japs used to bring them over and they'd bring them. To get a box, it would cost $120. I look in it, and they've only got 20 cigars [or] 25.

I look at them and go, What the hell? You're paying for the goddamned box and the tubes and everything. I said, I don't smoke the box or the tubes. The only thing I need is the cigars in there. So, I found a little place and the guy said, "Oh!" Because he couldn't come next month. I said, "Well, spend $100 on business. I got blackies and you've got 75 cigars." I said, "Jesus." He said, "That's too cheap." He said, [00:28:06]. I said, "No. I've got some at home." But around eight or around nine dollars for the thing for the Galopp.

JS: That's too funny.

KG: Because you have to find out for yourself. You don't pay for the name or nothing.

JS: Well, I lived in Northern California for like eight years, and there were so many wineries …

KG: Oh, yeah, there are …

JS: So, I loved it. It was really cheap because they were so close.

KG: Oh, yeah. It was great.

JS: Well, you have a wonderful day …

KG: Thank you …

JS: And I'll call to check in on you in a couple of weeks, probably.

KG: And check that name from that thing because it's been on my mind, now. The guy -- in the 1930s, he was in the Olympics in America and I think in 1932, that guy arrived in L.A.

JS: You said that he worked out with Pesek?

KG: With Pesek, yeah.

JS: Okay. I'll be able to find that.

KG: They're all dead now, those people, you know. I'm talking to you like I tell you. I was a kid when that happened. Like in 1932, I was eight years old, so they're all gone. It's just I forgot the name and I can't, for the life of me, I can't remember it. But I see him playing in the movies, and so, because he played once in this thing. He was like a heel in that thing. In one of those Roman movies -- like about the Roman Empire?

JS: Oh, like a gladiator movie?

KG: Yeah, but he was like the rogue guy for the film.

JS: I'll see if I can find out who he is.

KG: Yeah, if you don't, it's okay, because I get somebody here. But I do not know no computer …

JS: You're not doing the Internet, huh?

KG: No. Who wants to learn so they know -- but nobody could catch me.

JS: Well, it ends up being like you spend so much time on it, because it's very addictive. There's so much information.

KG: You know, the least I say and the least they know, or that you know about me -- the better I'm off because … See, with you, I talk, because you're open for discussion. Most guys are, "Oh yeah but what about him? What about that guy?" And then I'm thinking. You know, I had a couple of times I said, "Hey. Why the hell should I talk with you what I know about it, because I only spent my life in the gym."

And I looked up a lot of things from people. I had one old timer. Grubmeyer I met. And there was another guy. There was an old-timer. He's dead now, too. He was a tough son of a gun. He was only like a middleweight or light heavyweight, but he was with everybody. He was from America. He went to Turkey, where wrestling is the national sport …

JS: Yes …

KG: … just to be able to wrestle and to say, "I've been there and wrestled there." He didn't give a damn for nothing or nobody. He'd wrestle the devil himself. He was scared of nobody. And his name was Benny Sherman.

JS: Oh, I've heard the name.

KG: It was Benny Sherman. That's not his real name. And the funny thing is -- he's German and Irish again.

JS: No way.

KG: He took that name, Sherman, Benny Sherman, because that's like a Jewish name, you know? Benny Sherman. He thought that will help him to get some more work, because there was already enough Germans and Irishman hanging around.

JS: Yeah. That's true. What about? You know? My favorite guy from like the turn of the century has always been Tom Jenkins.

KG: Well, he was all right, but Gotch was a lot better.

JS: I think Gotch was probably more technical, huh?

KG: Gotch was a better man.

JS: A better man?

KG: Yes.

JS: Really?

KG: See, he worked with Jenkins because Jenkins was on his way out.

JS: Right. He was kind of getting older.

KG: He was getting out and he gave him a chance, you see. He could beat everybody, he and Farmer Burns. They had the game in their hand. But at that time, they were all just like professional boxers now. How many are there around?

JS: Yeah.

KG: So, if you want to make a buck out of this, and you beat the pro boxer, you'll have to play "Ring Around the Rosie." That's why you're a professional. If you go to work, you know you punch your cards in the morning and you know you're going to use the card back in at four o'clock, right? You start at eight until four, because that's how you make your living. That was the same in there. The same like when you wrestle the first time -- Hackenschmidt, you know, Gotch?

JS: Right, right.

KG: He knew what he was doing. He could have beaten him just like he beat him the second time. Remember? The second time he beat him like nothing. Bang, bang, bang, and it was over. He could have done that the first time, but he was too smart.

JS: Right. Because the gate from the second match …

KG: But Hackenschmidt didn't know, and he thought he had a chance and he was complaining and this and that because that's how it went. Like, "You're a better man than me. You want to make a buck with me." You're not going to tell him, like you do now, "Oh, you lose and I don't win." No. There was only one guy with the two that knew that what they do is good. They would do what any manager knew too, the match for you. Because you worked on the gate.

So, we had that Russian. He run the racket. So, the Russian could never believe it. So, the second time he came, he thought, "Well, I had a big chance the first time the first time and I've got one now. I can't play "Ring Around the Rosie" for the third time. It would be too obvious. Plus the Russian had to shout his mouth off and did this and that and Gotch won this and Gotch won that. So, when he came the second time, Gotch came out for the kill and that was the end of Hackenschmidt. All he was good for was giving interviews and smoking cigars.

JS: I've read a couple of interviews with Thesz, and he was always saying that Ad Santel went and crippled Hackenschmidt before the match.

KG: That's a load of shit. That's all excuses. You know, he never met Santel.

JS: That's what I've heard.

KG: And you know, when he talked about Santel, what the hell did he know about Santel?

JS: Yeah. I mean, you're definitely a controversial figure, but at the same time, you are, I would have to say, the most respected guy [in the] catch-as-catch-can background.

KG: Well, there was nobody left. I was the only one. I don't think that much of that. Like for a title or cloth, well, I was proud of my conditioning and that I knew how to wrestle. But what the hell? There weren't too many goddamned tough guys around. What I did was I wrestled some managers. Nine out of ten, you know some manager came out and he thought he could do it. So, that doesn't give him much training …

JS: They didn't know any hooks or anything.

KG: They think they can wrestle. I remember one time there was an old-timer. I was just breaking in. That was in England and he was sitting there with me. Joe Robby, the one that taught me. I was looking and the guy came up to wrestle. He had been an amateur and champion of the British Empire and this and that.

While we were wrestling, he didn't get nowhere. Joe just laughed. He looked at me. I said, "Well, yes. But the guy can wrestle." And he joked, "Yeah. He's an amateur." So, I looked at him. I said, "Yeah, Joe. I know he's an amateur. I mean, he can't wrestle." He looked at me again, straight in the eye. "I just told you. He's an amateur." Then I knew what it meant.

JS: Yes.

KG: Say you were with the pros when you came in, and the guy was an amateur. He's an amateur. That means he's second rate. If he wasn't an Olympic champion, it didn't mean nothing to him.

JS: Because it's different knowing the hook wrestling.

KG: Well, just figure it this way. When you come from the Olympics … You know the story. I'll tell you this story, but this is going to cost you money. Okay?

JS: Yeah.

KG: Is it all right?

JS: Sure, sure.

KG: So you know, he was a big heavyweight. And he won the Olympics, and he thought he could do it. So, right away after the Olympics you turn pro. But then, when you're pro, you've got to [go] back like you was an amateur from the beginning.

JS: Yeah. Learn from scratch.

KG: Well, he started taking out the ten leaders. You've got the champion and you've got the ten leading contenders. Right?

JS: Right.

KG: That's usually the way we rose up in boxing. Well, he didn't last too long. They killed him. At least he stepped [into] a different field. Now you've got that guy that plays the loudmouth -- that guy that copy from pro wrestling. You know, the black guy? Who was a world champion, too?

JS: Oh, the Rock.

KG: No, no, no. The boxer.

JS: Oh. Mike Tyson.

KG: No, no.

JS: Boxing. Muhammad Ali?

KG: Yes. I'm thinking about Cassius Clay.

JS: Yeah, Cassius Clay.

KG: When he won his large heavyweight, and he won the title, and when he came here, then, you see, he started pro. But he started in pro at the bottom.

JS: Right.

KG: And he did the right thing with him. They didn't kill him. That guy that was his promoter -- D'Amato -- he knew what he was doing. When they said, "Oh, yeah, we can …" No, no, no, he said. You've got to learn the ropes. So, later on he put that thing in because he had a mind. He knew what to do. He sees that on television and all these guys talking, you know the pro wrestlers at that time, to get the …

JS: Heat …

KG: And then the one guy that was Mr. Beautiful with the body. Because he was a fair amateur wrestler but he didn't get nowhere. So, he went in show and then he went across to George. And he was wearing all those fancy clothes. And his wife was a babe. He's got his hair done up. This and that. And he was talking.

But at the same time, he learned from the bottom. He started from the bottom again. They didn't throw him right in. Liston he went slowly up, too, but he didn't have the qualities like him. And that's how he did it. And now, in wrestling it was the same thing. When you become aware you can't just wrestle right away with the tough guys or they'll kill you. That's how you've got to figure it. Do you know what I mean?

JS: Yeah. Because the old timers are going to know all the tricks.

KG: No matter how good you are as an amateur -- and even if you're an Olympic champion and you went in with an old pro that's trained in the other style, that's like going to a completely different thing. That's like you know, all right. You've graduated from high school. You get a diploma. You're eighteen years old and that's how it is. Right?

JS: Totally. An amateur …

KG: And also, I'm giving you an example.

JS: Oh, I'm sorry …

KG: You've graduated from high school. And there you are. You've got your diploma, right?

JS: Sure.

KG: Don't talk about wrestling, just education. But you can't go now, that you've got your diploma, and think that doesn't mean that you can pass the test and do everything in college. You've got to go through college again from the bottom.

JS: Right. And start over again.

KG: Yeah. Well, I don't know whether they call it varsity or first ten. I don't know all those things. But you don't start on the top and go right in and pass the test because you can't. You're only a high school graduate.

JS: Right. And like the amateur guys -- they'd have to totally rework things because they would be open for things like face locks …

KG: They're tougher, because you go by the Olympic rules or otherwise by the rules like you've got here. Here they kept telling me, "Oh, yeah, but we have college rules and interschool rules." And then because you've been involved in the Olympics … If you go to the Olympics, you go by the Olympics rules.

The Olympics is long over. Some of you know that role. But if you go on the mat with a pro, you wrestle. It's all according to how you learn to wrestle amateur, right? You're wide open for all those things. You're a sucker. You're sitting there. As soon as you take him down, he gives you the leg. You think he's going for a pin. No. He hooks you up. You know you sing like a canary.

I remember one time a guy … I took him down and I toeholded him. He said, "What are you doing? What are you doing? You're breaking my leg. You're breaking my ankle." I said, "That's the name of the game. What do you think I'm doing?" I said, "I'm not here to kiss you."

JS: Right. It's wrestling.

KG: See. That's all the difference that you've got now. If you get that good, you've got to be in top shape.

JS: What's interesting, too, is like in terms of shape [and] being in good condition, it seems like the length of the matches have shrunk.

KG: Now, you know, even the amateurs … To me, they don't wrestle. They're hardly on the mat and they're off again. You know, they do like boxing. They do it two times a minute or they do two times three or five minutes. That's a joke. When I was an amateur, you wrestled fifteen minutes. And before that it was twenty. We just went down. But where was the wrestling? It was over a half hour with that coach of mine and there was no decision.

JS: That's amazing. That's amazing that it is a completely different world, now.

KG: Oh, I can tell you everything is the easy way out. Well, we get nothing that way.

JS: Yeah, and you're right. It is a lost art, because people don't want to …

KG: Eh, nobody wants to put out. That's like when some guy came here. He said, "When you come to me, you'll learn how to wrestle." I said, "Okay. Come and see me again when you can do 500 squats. Come in with fifty push-ups and stand in a high bridge for three minutes.

JS: Right.

KG: The guy says, "Why do I need that?" I said, "That's the base. " I said, "I don't want to spend time with you doing this. If you cannot do that on your own …" You have to do that on your own. Because I had another guy that called me. He's a nice fellow. He wants to come see me tomorrow and he asked me. He said, "Well, I can do up to 300." I said, "Jesus Chris, you've got to do a minimum of 5 [500]. Once you do 500 that is like a breeze. You can keep on going."

Up to the 500, it's murder. But once you do that, it's like going … What do you call that? It's like you're passing a deadline, because you can't go on forever. It becomes like routine. Not with push-ups. That's a little bit harder. But that goes pretty well, too, after that. You're not going to tell me …

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