Karl Gotch and Jake Shannon chat (10/25/05) Part One | Welcome to ScientificWrestling.com, the VERY Best in Catch Wrestling!

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

Jake Shannon - June 28, 2017
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KG: How are things in California?

JS: Oh, they're very nice. They're very nice. I had a very fun New Year's.

KG: Okay. That's good.

JS: I went out with friends. Hey, did you get your package?

KG: No.

JS: Oh, no. Okay. I tried to call them today and they said that their computer is down, but I'm going to call them in probably a couple of hours and I'll get it all figured out for you. But, yeah. I went out and I got a cigar and I had my first cigar.

KG: That's the best smoke.

JS: It was fun.

KG: Yes. But not smoking is better, even, you know. My grandfather always told me. If you smoke, you have to smoke. You know how it is with the young guys. He said, "Don't ever smoke cigarettes." He said, "Tobacco is not that bad. It's the paper."

JS: Oh!

KG: It's the paper that is bad. He said, "If you smoke, smoke a pipe or a cigar." But you know, I tried a pipe. But that's too much. You know, you had the pipe. You had to pack a pouch. You had to clean it. You had to tamp it. Then you set a light to it. Jesus Christ, Almighty. Then this whole saliva in that pipe. I've very particular, you know that, and I didn't like that. I thought, "Jesus. It smells, you know?" To me.

JS: Well, it's not clean.

KG: No, so I went for a cigar. But you know, I smoke. I have two meals a day and I have two cigars and that's it.

JS: That sounds nice. That sounds nice. What was I going to ask you? Oh, yeah. You know how we were talking about you do this sleeper hold by pushing the head to the side? When you do that -- I did this on a friend -- it seems so much tighter. And to make a fist…

KG: If you don't know what you're doing, it can be dangerous.

JS: Oh, yeah. I let him out before it gets uncomfortable for him.

KG: Yeah. But you have to get the feel for it. It's like everything else. People try just to force it. That's not it. You've to go by leverage. Everything you do is with the feel. It's just like you're playing music. You don't force the violin or a guitar or a horn that you would play or so on, especially singing. Especially with singing, so much you can get the idea. With the tone, you have to get the singing just in the right thing, right?

JS: Yeah.

KG: If it's not enough, it's too slack. It doesn't give the right tone. And if you overstretch it, the string breaks. And that's the same with those things.

JS: Yeah, you can't force it. Hey, you know you were saying that how you thought Fujiwara was good?

KG: Yeah, he was all right.

JS: I heard that…I found on the Internet -- it's in Japanese -- but he has some sort of tapes where he does instruction on them. I'm trying to find those. See if they're any good.

KG: Well, they asked me that time to write a book and do some tapes. I said everybody knows that I know. To be a good teacher, you have to make always someone better than you. Test it. Test what you had in your mind. I said, "Let him do it."

JS: Yeah.

KG: He said, "No, no. I cannot do it." I said, "Yeah, you can do it. Go ahead." I didn't want to do it.

JS: Yeah.

KG: But it's all okay. But this is all commercial shit to me. See, because you know, the only way you're going to learn is on a mat.

JS: Just getting down there and wrestling.

KG: And you know, you've got to be lucky to have a good coach or otherwise… You study. You have to study all the time. And not think… Like say, "Why do you work out?" I mean, like I told you. You've got to first be in shape. You look at the position. The way you stand. Your balance. Your timing. The point of the line of gravity. The point of balance. Then the leverage. You've got the leverage of where you place the fulcrum. If you don't have those things, you ain't got it.

And when you wrestle and you go on a mat, don't think about what you did good. They always, "Oh, yeah. I did this and I beat him there and I beat him there." That's a lot of shit. Think about what you did wrong.

JS: Yeah.

KG: That's what you've got to think about.

JS: That's what I've started to do is to take notes every time I wrestle and to make notes of what I'm doing bad so I remember to fix it.

KG: No. Notes is not what you do. In your mind, you've got to have it. You understand what I mean?

JS: Sure. Sure.

KG: Because if you write down the note, you won't remember nothing afterwards, anyway. You put it down on paper. You've got to get it down in your mind. What's the matter? You trying to suck me into saying what I think?

JS: To do what?

KG: Say what I think?

JS: Sure.

KG: What I do think?

JS: Yes. I want to know. Because you know and I don't know, so am I going to know what you know unless you tell me?

KG: Well, but you know. Voice is all right, but like they always said, a picture is worth a thousand words. No matter what you write down or how you talk about this and that, you've got to see it. And then the biggest thing of it all is what they do with you. You've got to feel it. Then you know what is correct and what is not correct. I see old guys. I've seen things. They're half-assed. You know, from me or this or that and they try to force it. That's not it.

JS: It is the conditioning...

KG: Yes. That's the biggest hold of them all. You ain't got that, you ain't got nothing. I told you before. A Rolls-Royce is the best car in the world. No gas, no water, no oil -- you ain't going to run. And all the holds in the world -- they won't do you no good if you don't know how to do it. And he doesn't have the gas to do it. Like saying, All right. You've got a guy who's in very good shape. He knows only very little. And you think you know the whole gamut? You go on the mat with him. So, he watches you. He steers you around a little bit. And after about between three and five minutes, the tongue is out and then you're hanging out of his asshole. Now all those holds -- what are they going to do for you?

JS: Right.

KG: Just like that car -- got no gas, no water, no oil -- forget it. It runs maybe a couple of hundred yards and then bang, you fall flat. It's so easy. It's so olden, but it's also the most difficult sport.

JS: But you know what's interesting? Because of the difference between the worked matches and then the legitimate competition -- it seems like there's a lot of you know shady characters. Unethical characters.

KG: What do you mean?

JS: I don't know. I do this. I love the wrestling and everything, but I work a day job. I'm not a huge athlete to make a living at it. I work in a bank. So, I'm used to that business. But ever since I've been looking into the whole wrestling and studying not just the training stuff, but also the history of it, it always seems like there's so many shady characters in it.

KG: Well, there's always somebody coming around trying to take profit out of it.

JS: Well, it either seems like profit or ego.

KG: But ego doesn't get too far, because people find out quick. You get that -- that's a disease. You won't go too far with that. That's like what you call a mirage. You know what a mirage is, huh?

JS: Yeah.

KG: I had to learn the word because the first time… Like we said in Europe, we called it Fata Morgana. You don't know what it is, huh?

JS: No.

KG: Well, that's how we say mirage.

JS: Okay.

KG: I hate to use that word. But everybody went, "Fata Morgana is like saying you're in the desert and you're dying of thirst and all of a sudden you see an oasis." The water and a couple of palm trees. When you get to there, it's still sand. That's what they have. That's what they're working on. They've got nothing.

JS: Yeah.

KG: The trouble with the thing now, too, [is] that everybody -- they get in this department, in wrestling. And they're looking about and they only want to make money with it. That doesn't go. How are you going to sell something that you ain't got? You sell them a handful of shit.

JS: That's what I've found. I just have been searching for somebody who's a good coach for me to learn from…

KG: But you won't find any, now, because they're all gone. Even an amateur is piss poor. And to say that they're the best -- well, it's only normal. I told you the story how they got with the three different styles from England, and then they got here and then the British were here and they had the control over this country here, America. They owned it. Then they fought themselves free. But even then, before then, they had all those immigrants coming in from all parts of the world.

So you know, Lancashire Catch was here. But then everybody brought a little bit of it for themselves. Like you've got Turks. Iranians. You've got Germans. Some Frenchmen. Everybody came here from different parts of the world. And they brought things with them from different styles of wrestling. And they combined all of that, and that was American Catch-as-Catch-Can. That's how it was born.

JS: Where did Farmer Burns learn? Did he design and create a lot of the stuff that he did?

KG: Well, he got around. At that time, everybody was wrestling. And when he got around, that's how we learned. You picked up here and there and everywhere. And he had a knack for it himself, a little bit. But he was very devoted to it. He sacrificed everything for wrestling. And that thing when McLeod found Gotch and then he wrestled him, they told Farmer about him. Then he came in and he wrestled him and he snuffed him up. Gotch couldn't believe it. He was a big, strong, farm boy. But he was just a big, strong farm boy that didn't hardly know anything.

JS: Didn't know the science behind it.

KG: He didn't know nothing. He just knew that that's what they called it. Because they all did it for a pastime. Everybody did then. But even later on when he was great, he learned everything from Farmer. Farmer could still beat him. He was too smart for him.

JS: Now, Tom Jenkins. He beat Farmer Burns to become the champ, right?

KG: Well, that was the thing. Farmer, he beat everybody all the time, so there was that one time he let him win. To get the interception. Just like guys -- when Gotch was good, he wrestled and he lost to Beal. Well, there was nobody else around. There were only so many guys and you get Ring Around the Rosie. When you wrestle everybody, you're going to get a surprise here and there. You keep the interest and keep the people coming. That's pro. That's it. But see even then, still the best man won because when you looked at who was the champion, well it was them. You seem to be in love with Tom Jenkins, huh?

JS: He is my favorite, I think. I like him. I just like the fact that he was a tough guy and he seemed pretty game. Like he just would get down and wrestle anybody. And he seemed very direct. From what I understand -- I've talked to some of his grandkids -- and they sent me some really nice clippings and things like that. He seemed just like a very sincere guy and just a tough, tough guy. I always thought it was kind of funny. Did you know he had a glass eye?

KG: Yeah. He lost an eye when he was young. When he was working.

JS: I guess before every match, he would take his eye out -- his glass eye.

KG: Well, he's not the only one. The guy that had one eye lazy was blind. It was Leroy McGuirk.

JS: I don't know who that is.

KG: Omaha.

JS: Oh, yeah, the trachoma. What was it called? Trachoma?

KG: No, Omaha.

JS: I don't understand.

KG: That's a state.

JS: Oh. OK.

KG: Omaha. And that's where he lived. I don't know if he's still alive. I think he's dead now. He was really old when I was there and he was blind. Well, he's now dead, anyway, but it's not nice to talk about the dead when he can't defend himself. He was fucking around with a broad and the other guy went and got him. So, he did something. He threw something. He got him in the eye. In the good eye. He had one.

JS: Ooh…

KG: For a piece of ass he lost everything. But he was good. He always wrestled with only one eye, but I've seen some of the guys -- blind guys. They wrestle. In the school now, they try it out. But they're pretty goddamned good, you know?

JS: It's like you said. It's about feel.

KG: So, they start off with a hand on each other. The shoulder. And I've seen blind guys wrestling a guy that could see. The guy that got the sight, I felt real sorry, but he woke up quick because that goddamned blind guy, he comes with everything he got. They've got a lot of drive.

JS: Have you seen that one… There's a kid now. He's been on a couple of news stories. He's an amateur and he's young, but he has no arms and no legs, and he wrestles and he does well.

KG: That's impossible. Bullshit.

JS: No. I'm telling you the truth.

KG: How you going to wrestle without arms and legs? What are you going to do? Stand him up?

JS: I'll mail you the pictures or I'll get the videotapes just so you can see. It is amazing. It's amazing. He has these little nubs for arms. It's unbelievable. It really is unbelievable. I can understand why you're like that. His name is Kyle Maynard. He's an amateur.

KG: If you've got a guy that's got good balance and knows what the hell he's doing, what are you going to do with no arms and no legs?

JS: I don't know how he does it. I don't know. It's amazing.

KG: From standing up, he can't do nothing.

JS: Well, yeah. I don't know how you would really do a takedown because he's already on the ground anyway, so maybe that's part of the reason why.

KG: Except when he's on the ground, you know how to wrestle. I had a guy one time. Those guys with that Brazilian shit. And they told me. They said, "Oh, yeah." And I look. I said, "Yeah, the guy got guts. He'd come out and nobody knows him." All they do is just strangle him and punch and kick. I said, "What the hell?" You know, where I come from, they call it the whorehouse hold when a guy lays on the floor like that. So, maybe I told this story before.

JS: You told me the whorehouse hold.

KG: So they said, "Well, but what are you going to do?" I said, "Well, when he falls down, the same thing. You step back a step and [you] get up." They said, "Well, but you know, it's over." I said, "Well, come here. I'll show you." He lays on his back. He said, "Are you ready?" I said, "Here I am." I've got both his feet pushing me. I pulled him up, spun him around and a wristlock on him. He spun around like a top. I said, "You dumb asshole."

The point in wrestling is to get a guy down because both get killed on the floor not standing up. I said, "If you're laying down for me, you're doing half the work." There you are. And then he said, "Well, but let's just say you scissor." I said, "All right. You've got your legs around me." I dig my elbows in his thighs. He opened up and I toehold him from three different sides. He was singing like a canary. I said, "Here, and I'll show you a couple of more." I said, "There you are." I said, "You're not laying down."

In the olden days, you had guys. They used to wrestle on the side and they were dangerous. But they used to go down -- like work, wrestle with you. Moment you go down and get hit from the side and when you're sticking something in -- he's there. But on your back, how the hell are you doing to fight? Like I told you, that's only good in a whorehouse.

JS: When these guys would be on their side, they would what? Probably do some sort of leg scissor thing?

KG: Well, that depends how you come in. You can't even say "you do this, you do that." You never can say what you're going to do.

JS: True.

KG: Because, you know, it depends whether the guy comes into you and what position he takes.

JS: Very true. Have you heard of that book called Blue Blood on the Mat?

KG: No, I've seen a lot of red blood on the mat, but I've never seen any blue blood.

JS: It's this guy named Oakeley -- Sir Athol.

KG: Oh, Jesus Christ, alight. That's the guy -- the promoter. What do you think? He's an Australian. He's couldn't goddamn wrestle. He's a businessman. I met him years and years ago because when I was still a young guy, I went to England. Sir Athol. They gave him the thing Sir Athol Oakeley. There's another guy that -- he was a businessman. He was after the pound, because they didn't have the dollars then. That's where I tell you that with all those books and everything, you've got a lot of shit flying around.

JS: My actual best ones are the Farmer Burns … The Life Work of "Farmer" Burns. That's a nice one. I have, I think, it's probably a first edition. It's really nice. Yeah. You definitely have to take some of them with a grain of salt. I have the Ed Lewis books. Those are great.

KG: Yeah, but Ed Lewis -- I've seen that one. I gave them away, because they were like five books together, like a different thing. And him and Toots Mondt did it. But that's more commercial.

JS: Yeah.

KG: Now, Ed could wrestle. So could Toots Mondt. But what you see there is not that much. The fundamental shit, you know.

JS: Yeah. It would have been very difficult for them to capture everything. It would have been a huge book, right?

KG: No. But how are you going to explain that? They told me to write a book. I said, "How in God's name do you want me to do that?" You cannot do that -- the same like you coach. Like I told you before. You don't go one, two, three. That's impossible. And everybody's different.

JS: Right. Exactly.

KG: It takes a little bit of psychology because the guy is building. Then you look according to how he moves. What ability he's got. And you Hot Charlie this. The strength that he got. That's how you teach. If you just teach like saying, "Yeah, you go one, two, three," like they'll go for a leg lock. You go down. That don't work. I've been there a long time. That's why I know. But people now, they don't want to do that. I went once. A guy asked from the high school. I told you, maybe.

JS: Oh, I think so.

KG: They wanted to learn holds. I said, "Well, what do you want to learn holds for?" You're going to have to condition first. They didn't want to do that. That one guy said, "I'm not coming here to do squats." I said, "Fuck off. That's the way you talk, that's the way I answer you. Get lost."

JS: Oh, that's funny.

KG: You look at every pro boxer. What is he doing? No matter how good he is, he does a lot of conditioning.

JS: Yeah. Skipping rope.

KG: Yeah. Everything. He does his physical culture. All different things. He does his road work. Then he comes in and no matter how good he is, he works the big bag, the light bag, the punching [bag]. He doesn't just go in the ring and box. And that's easy compared to wrestling. It's painful.

Of course, you're always hit where it hurts, but you've got only one position standing up. In wrestling, you've got three. You stand up, you've got him underneath, and then while you've got him down, and then when you're underneath. So, there's three different ways that you have to learn to fight and defend yourself.


JS: Yeah. Hello?

KG: I thought you were gone.

JS: I was just thinking about boxing, too. Some of the old guys, too. I guess there was a guy named Owen Swift. Have you ever heard that name?

KG: No.

JS: That's from like the 1800s. I guess bare knuckle boxing, or pugilism back then … It was like you had boxing and then they had things like a cross-buttock throw and you could do some grappling.

KG: Oh, that's bare knuckle. Like I said, it went out with high button shoes because later on, they did that thing in which we started and they got gloves on. Then they cut out the wrestling that was in and the kick and used the kick to the legs, too.

JS: Have you watched any of this mixed martial arts stuff?

KG: A little bit and I throw up. That's ridiculous, what they're doing there. There's two guys going in there. Like they're like two poor bastards that don't know nothing and just try to fight. Where I come from, we say "they fit like a prick in a piss cup."

JS: That's funny.

KG: When you look at it to me, it's stupid the way it is. They should start them in the ground up, again. Everybody's already in there and then they sell them things and they think they know. You don't know nothing. If it's built on nothing it always will be nothing. The first thing you show me when you start is conditioning…

The Japs, when I was there in Japan, coached me. Did 500 and 250 push-ups; and the bridge' and then they did three rounds of three. Three and three with three.

JS: A couple of years ago, I was a lot bigger, and this was before I was more serious about legitimate wrestling and hook wrestling. I did pro wrestling for a little while. I went and worked out with these guys who work in Japan. They started out in California and they got booked in Japan. They started a dojo out here called the Tetsu Academy, which I think means iron or something in Japanese. They work for NOAH. Have you ever heard of that?

KG: No.

JS: NOAH? The promotion?

KG: No.

JS: A couple of guys from New Japan left and started it. A guy named Misawa, I think. I don't remember. Anyway, we had to do 500 squats for our class. I think that's because [of] your influence -- I think that all the pro Japanese wrestling -- I think it's the basis.

KG: When I went there, they knew nothing. Then they asked me to stay there. I studied there for several years. That's how I made my money because not only I was coaching, but I never asked a guy who had to have training, or anything, because what the hell. The guy that wrestles you is usually a guy like me that got nothing either. Well, if I worked for a company, well, they paid me for a promotion. You can't make money with it.

JS: I'm going to call FedEx again, and see, because they said it should be an hour when their computer is fixed. That's so silly. You should have had this… I mailed it and it said it arrived in Florida on the 24th of December.

KG: Jesus. That's nine days ago.

JS: Yeah. And it's FedEx. I paid extra so it would get there before Christmas. But I'll call them again and get it all figured out.

KG: This guy was on the phone. I don't know if he was in the office or if he was driving around, but he was talking real fast. A mile a minute. Then he was asking for directions. I said, "What the hell do you want directions for? And anyway, I don't know that because I'm from Europe. If you start talking to me, 'Oh, you go north. And then you turn west.'" I'm lost.

JS: You're the expert. You're the delivery guy. You should know how to get from one address to another.

KG: That's what I told him. I said, "If I go in your taxi and I rent a car and I give you the address, I don't have to tell you how to go." Actually a taxi driver knows his road, right? The same, the guy that delivers. I told him and I think it didn't go over too well, because I said, "Jesus Christ." I didn't know if it was him that wasn't delivering or the guy in the office. He said, I'm asking that. I said, "I gave you all the goddamn information you want to." You get a guy that's got to deliver. What does he do? Drive a truck? He should drive a jackass then. He's got company with a blunder.

JS: That's funny. And you know what? No matter how far a jackass travels, he'll never come back a horse.

KG: No. There's one we used to say. "The difference between a horse and zebra is that the zebra says you got a lot of stripes. But underneath is still a jackass." A lot of people out there -- they don't like it if you say that.

JS: That's funny. You always have all these clever… That is really funny.

KG: Well, I grew up on the waterfront. That's how we are back where I come from. You've got to be quick with your fist and quick with your mind, too. Otherwise you ain't going to make it.

JS: Do you have a pit bull now?

KG: No. I gave my pit bull away -- the one that I had. He died about a year ago because he was old. He was sixteen. He was all crippled up. I had him until he was fourteen and the guy that was a friend of mine had to take him because with that implant that I had, it was too. Otherwise, I would have a dog.

I always had a dog -- since I was six years old. And always a terrier. When I was a young boy, I had a fox terrier. What they call rat terriers here. We always had a terrier. They'd follow me. Don't you want a police dog or something? I'd say no. I like a terrier, and especially a bull terrier. I was crazy about them.

And they're nice dogs. People, they condemn them, like they're bad and they bite and this and that. No. They're full of shit. They're dangerous for kids. They're not dangerous for kids. On the contrary. My daughter -- when she did something wrong in the old country, when I had my first pit -- she used to hide behind him and go in the doghouse behind him. Only me, and even then he'd come out and he'd really like it because they like kids.

JS: I told you that my roommate has a female. She's like two. A great dog.

KG: Well, they're the greatest.

JS: She's so nice. But he sent her to get that (sp?) training. Do you know what I'm talking about? The German dog school?

KG: Oh, there's no such thing as a German thing. That's just police training.

JS: Right.

KG: They don't do that in schools. We have a thing. That's where I used to go when I was a boy, and that's where I picked up a lot of things, because a friend of mine, he had a tavern. It was on the outskirts of the town. They had a place that they'd fence off. And you've got all your things in there. You've got the trainer there. You walk the dog around for obedience training. You walk the dog around with the leash, without the leash. They throw pieces of meat to him. He don't take it or nothing.

Then he even do it with dancing moves. And then he got a hole. He jumps over the hole, so you've got a fence. Then he jumps the hole in the fence. Then you've got like a big roll, what you call a power sack and they put boards in all the time. And you just put them about a meter or a meter and a half away from you. You go behind it and he clears the thing.

Then at the end, there's a guy that we call an Apache. That's a nickname for the hoodlums in France. You've got that cap on and he's got a whole leather suit with a burlap sack over it. You walk with him. You do different things. He walks with you. You put a hand on his shoulder. Then he grabs you and that dog sics. Then he gets a dog and he lets him attack. But they work on an arm. That's wrong. You've to work all over. Because if you get a dog just to work on an arm, you feed it the arm. You've got to struggle to raise him.

It's not that easy and I told him that one time. I said, "You train those animals wrong. You've got to get all over. Or you've got to watch them because those bastards, when they come, they come." And sometimes he'd get black and blue from the marks that he got. They'd bite him. He'd take away the leather and the burlap sack, but still if they get through, they get some and he has to watch that the jacket don't open up because they rip your goddamned stomach out. They attack from all angles.

JS: So, you still don't think that you want to have a dog now, huh?

KG: I can't. It's injustice. It's all right if you're good here, but a dog needs at least three miles a day to walk.

JS: Yeah. I see. And your hips just aren't going to do it, huh?

KG: I can't do that, because I can't walk by myself. I can't even travel nowhere. Like when I have to show up or something, that would be very hard, because I can't do the job properly. That's why I hate it, because if you can't do something right…

JS: Don't do it at all.

KG: No. You have to walk 5 kilometers. It's about three miles.

JS: And that has to be frustrating, I guess, since you've always been such a physical person, right?

KG: Oh, yes. It burns me up sometimes. Can't do nothing about that, you know? Say if I had done that operation about two or three months later, it would have been a lot easier because instead of cutting, they go from your ass all the down to your thigh. It's about twelve inches of cut. Twelve to fifteen inches. Then they saw that thing off, that part of the bone that you've got there and then they saw that off and they dislock that bone that's in your upper thigh bone…

JS: Oh!

KG: They did both at once. So, when I got out, I had no support at all.

JS: Oh!

KG: You know, for getting up out of the bed, it was oogh! I thought I was in Dante's Inferno. The same one halfway down here. Then when I was up, I walked the day after. And I tried. I don't give up anyway. Next morning I tried again. I'm on the table. Holding on I did about ten squats because I did nothing but the thing. The Maxick.

JS: Yes, the Maxick exercise.

KG: You can do everything with. But now I did. I waited for a while. Nothing. So, I did squats ten, push-ups ten, and then I push against the wall. Against the thing I got. It's like a pillow kind of thing. I don't know what you call it. Tempo? Unless your arms and legs are working together.

JS: Well, it sounds like you're improvising, at least.

KG: Well, I always do. You cannot do what you want, but at least you do what you can. If you don't do nothing, well, then you're like a Frenchman. You know what the Frenchmen do?

JS: No, what?

KG: The Frenchmen are "les excuses sont fait pour s' en servir." That means excuses are made to use. They're the only excuses that you have.

JS: Excuses are made to use. That's horrible

KG: Yes. That's not in my book.

JS: That's funny. Okay, well, I won't keep you. I just wanted to touch base again and check to see if that doggone package came and I guess it didn't.

KG: Now I'm going to cook my meal, the second one, and then get my second cigar.

JS: Oh, that's sounds good.

KG: That's better than a kick in the ass with a frozen boot.

JS: Sounds like you're living the good life.

KG: Well, as much as I can. Much of the life is fine for me.

JS: Is it sunny out there right now?

KG: Oh, it's beautiful. The sun is shining. It's about 68 degrees. No, about 70 now. It's going to go up to 71.

JS: We have flood warnings here, so I think you're definitely living the good life. Nice cigar. Nice meal. Sun.

KG: Well, you do what you make out of it. I never complain. I always thought about a time when I was a kid. I grew up. I was born in the Depression -- just before the Depression -- so the Depression. Then afterwards the War. I'd always had a hard time. I always appreciate what I get.

JS: I guess that's kind of good. Like everything is going to be better than that.

KG: People always bitch. It's kind of like the old saying goes, "The guy was bitching because he had no shoes until he saw the guy that had no legs."

JS: Yes.

KG: Right?

JS: Right. Yeah, I shouldn't complain about not finding a good coach, huh?

KG: Well, there's only one thing. You know you ain't going to find him. And everybody sells you a lot of shit.

JS: I know. It sucks.

KG: You know what you've got to do? Is you have to figure out for yourself and think. Think. First. Then you've got to finish your conditioning. When you've got the conditioning, then you think how the stance is. That is the first thing that you learn. Forget about all… And now you move around. Then you look at these stances and you see you've got your balance right.

When I saw Lou Thesz the first time, when he stood and he looked up, I almost died laughing. He said, "What's the matter?" I said, "Look." He standing [with] his legs that far apart. I said, "If he's the world champion, I'm Napoleon." He stands there like a cock taking a piss. Strangler Lewis he heard about it, and he laughed.

JS: Yeah. What the hell are you doing up there? That's the problem. You're right. You have to keep people interested to have them coming back to watch the shows, but at a certain point, I don't know. Then you end up with a guy that can't wrestle who's the champ.

KG: But now they say… When I came over here, nobody could wrestle. They didn't want no wrestlers. They said they had the toughest guys here in the olden days. And they used to go there. Maybe I told you about it. They'd look at the guy. You used to go out in the thing in the summer. In the wintertime when the people were here. And they'd travel from town to town with a group.

They said for a guy that could figure things out and who could get what he wanted -- to rent the arena, to take the people they got, the advertisement, the bills that they posted on the street and everything else that wasn't in the newspapers and all that -- and they gave them 30 percent from the take of the house for all that. And they took 70 percent for them and they did the matches between them. And the best man won always. They came for gaming. They looked it at the time. It was that time. They [still had] people coming in with tuxedos. Women like in the evening. Like I'm boxing. Now all you've got is rubbish.

Then the promoters, they saw that. Then later they got hold of it and they got rid of the tough guys and they only kept the guys that they could control. They could still wrestle, but they were not great. They were just average. See, they told them to lose. Well, they still had that pride because they could still wrestle a bit, so they got rid of all of them and they made guys that acted. They knew how to act, but they couldn't wrestle their way out of a paper bag.

JS: Bodybuilders.

KG: They were not bodybuilders. Just actors. So, when Thesz came in, there was nobody here. When I came here to America and I thought about the olden days I came here, all I saw were actors. Nobody knew the difference between a wrist lock and wristwatch. That's why he had them all buffaloed. They thought he was tough, because you got nothing but a pile of shit. But he was in good shape. He looked the part and he played that hand.