Karl Gotch and Jake Shannon chat (10/25/05) Part Two

Jake Shannon - July 13, 2017
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KG: …and he wanted to present it to me. So, I was booked in the shithouse from then on.

JS: Yeah.

KG: I never lost, but I never won anything, either. I didn't even make a living. Thank God I got that break in Japan.

JS: Yeah.

KG: I went there.

JS: They loved you.

KG: Oh, they still do.

JS: They totally still do. I mean, everything that I read about Japanese wrestling always comes back to you.

KG: Well, I did it. I made it over there. I went there the first time and it was a Sumo. You know, the Rikidozan and he came from Sumo. And the guy that brought me over there, I'm grateful to him. He died quite a while ago.

JS: What was his name?

KG: "Big" Bill Miller. And he was a golden boy here. He was a Big Ten champion and he played in the Rose Bowl in football. He was like a halfback. I don't know what it is, but that's what I heard. But I don't nothing from that football. So, when we went over there, they wanted him to come. He says, "Yeah, I'll come, but I want that German with me." He said, "All right."

We lived in the same part in Ohio. He came back one time. He said, "I'd like to work out with you." I said, "That's fine, but you have trouble with your knee." I think he was laid off a little while. At first, we'd go to Black Lake Woods. "Let me work your leg up." I said, "When your leg is okay, we can go up in the barn and bolt it." That's what they called it. It was a ring and a mat and some bags. It was all right. So, he was okay after a couple of weeks. "All right," he said. "Let's go."

So, we went. He had on the mat after about three or four minutes. He says, "Fuck this shit. I heard the part and I thought you was going, but I didn't know you were that good." He said, "Every time I touch you, it's like touching electricity."

So, I said, "Oh, God, come on." Well, anyway. He told me to get outside. I said, "I'm jumping up, as it is, to make a living. To get a couple of matches." He said, "Don't worry." So, the first time that they wanted him in Japan, he said, "Yes, I'll come if he can come with me."

When we came there, they were all big guys. Bill was about 6'7 and 300 pounds but he was not fat. Then you had another guy. His name was Big Jim Wright. So, I was the smallest in the bunch. I was 6'3 and about 240 -- 235 to 240. So, that Jap looked at me. He said, "What is this? He's too small." They like big guys in Sumo style.

So, Bill Miller said, "How many guys do you got here?" He said, "Well, I'll tell you one thing. I'll tell you. I'll work for free." Those three -- we went for three months, spring and fall. Like the summer there. He said, "I'll work for you for free the whole tournament. Let's do the three months if he doesn't work through all of you."

He said, "What about you?" He said, "Me included. He'll slap me up." So, then I worked and they saw me working. Then I did working business. But the way I did it, those Japs went crazy over me. They gave me a standing ovation when I got over that because they asked me if I could work for 30 minutes with Rusher Kimura. He was a Sumo amateur champion from the colleges. He was a good guy. Oh, boy. He said, "We've never seen anything like it." The guy that did the booking, he said, "Boy. Tokyo is yours, and all of Japan, too. You can do what you want here." And then when I wrestled Rikidozan, he was a bastard. He mistreated all those kids at Sumo style, hitting them and slapping them around. Hitting them with a stick. So, when I wrestled with him in a match, he said, "Like amateur. Like amateur."

I told him, "Okay." So, I went in for the hip throw and he blocked me -- because they're good at this thing. But as soon as he blocked, I twisted around on the other side and boom. There he was sailing. So, there he was still. I thought, "Well, that's okay. I like it a like it a little snug." Boy, after about seven or eight minutes, he was eating canvas all over. Find a square inch.

And I heard a big boom voice. It was Jim Wright. He was a good friend, too, you know. And he said, "Hey, Kraut. If you want to go back home on a slow boat to China…" I said, "You're doing a hell of a fucking job." I did not realize because he was the boss. And he goes into the fall and everything.

Boy. I picked him up and I throw him. Boom. Pushed him up. I was wrestling with him. Then it was like I was wrestling with myself. Everybody knew. All those Japs. Those young boys that he always mistreated. Oh. If I blinked my eyes, they were there. I couldn't do nothing. They did everything for me. They thought I was Hirohito. From then on, I was over.

JS: Oh, that's great. So, you pulled him up on top of you.

KG: Yes, up on top. The moment he reached in, I turned around. I made him move and then I moved around him and I put him on top. And Jim Wright said, "First you ate him up and then you waltzed with him. You made him look like he was Aunt Jemima and you were Fred Astaire." He said, "Oh, boy. That guy couldn't eat or sleep for three days." He was that frustrated.

JS: Oh, that's too funny. That's too funny. Well, he and Thesz were tight, though, right? Rikidozan?

KG: Well, he thought Thesz was the champion that he was like himself. Thesz made a lot of money, but he just went in and out. He never went there like for a tour. Just in and out. You know, assholes usually get together. They get along fine.

JS: I understand that. That's too funny. All right, well you know what? I don't want to keep you from your meal.

KG: No. I have to cook it soon, now.

JS: But I'll give you a call. I don't know. In a little while. I'll check on that. I'll make sure you get your present, too.

KG: Yeah. Well, you sent it. Those bastards. They should have…

JS: Yeah. I don't know. It's kind of ridiculous. I'll make sure that they get it to you.

KG: It's not that I'm not grateful for the present, but you know you spent the money on it. You bought the present. You gave them the goddamned money to send it and then then there's nobody around. It's good that they are no special cakes or something or otherwise they'd be all spoiled and they'd be going green.

JS: It's no big deal. I think you'll enjoy it. That's all.

KG: Well, let's hope so…

JS: It's a lot of build-up for it, though. A lot of anticipation over no big deal.

KG: Yeah, well. But still, it's just the thing. The idea, you know?

JS: All right. Well, I appreciate talking to you again. I'll talk to you soon.

KG: Okay.

JS: Okay. Happy New Year.

KG: Thank you. The same to you.

JS: Okay. Bye.

KG: Bye. [End]