Jimmy, it’s great to have you in the
Mid-Atlantic Gateway tonight.
: All right man…I’m with
you. We can talk about anything you
want to talk about. You guys at the
Gateway have a really great
that. You have a great website.
and I really appreciate that.
Where do you want to start?
Well, some folks might be
surprised that you actually broke into
wrestling during the 1960s, and that
you were a manager for a long time
during your earlier career.
Yeah, November 1st,
1969. This was out in Arizona, and I
managed Terry (Garvin) for Ernie
had no idea what I was doing…I was
green as could be. I was trying to get
experience. Back then, one of the best
ways to get experience was to do
Getting your foot in the door, so
Right. Another way was to referee.
You know…to do something around the
business other than get in the ring
my size was a problem then. I was only
17 years old, and I really wasn’t
that big. I never was really that big
anyway in my career, but I was really
little then. I was just a kid then,
You actually started as a manager,
but what got you interested in
wrestling in the first place?
Well…that’s a very good
. And, of course, I have a very good
(laughing) I would expect nothing
less from you!
(laughing) I started when I was
nine years old…
You mean your interest in
What happened was, my family…my
Dad, had a small little apartment
house in Tampa, Florida. And Joe
Who many people may know better as
Chief Jay Strongbow…
Yeah, before he was Chief Jay
Strongbow he was Joe Scarpa. This was
back in around 1961. In Tampa then,
you had a lot of great guys…Scarpa,
Curtis, Hiro Matsuda, the Great
Great Malenko, Joe Scarpa and them
stayed at my parent’s apartment
house. Of course I was there, and one
day Joe Scarpa saw me hangin’ around
and said, ‘Hey, why don’t you come
down and try out?’
Who would you have been trying out
Eddie Graham had kind of a little
wrestling school…like a Club for
young kids. Joe told me to try out and
see how I’d do.
So, you took the plunge?
I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do
that!’ So I went down there, and
tried out and did pretty good. I knew
nothing about wrestling, until Joe
Scarpa took me down there and put me
in the ring.
Solie was down there…Gordon Solie
did my first interview---when I was
nine years old!
Are you serious?
(laughs) Yeah! Eddie Graham had a
segment on his show at the time, that
paid attention to the Club that he had
formed. And of course
Graham was there…he was just a kid.
Dick Slater, I think, finally came
Orton, Jr., through the years, came
through there as a kid.
Jimmy, I’d love to see a tape of your
first interview at the ripe ol’ age
(laughs) I’m sure Mike
(Graham) still has it! Yeah, Gordon
interviewed me several times when I
was a kid.
It sounds like wrestling got in
your blood at a VERY early age?
I got really into it. Joe Scarpa
trained me all the time. I was brought
up in west Tampa, which was kinda a
rough part of town. I mean, it
wasn’t that bad, but it was sorta a
rough part of town.
used to spread U-Haul mats out in a
grassy field that was next to this
apartment complex. And what would
happen, every Saturday, is my Dad
would pay the neighborhood kids 25
cents each to come and work out with
me on these U-Haul mats. This
went on for a couple of years, to the
point that he built a little shed with
a ring in there. By little shed, I
mean they could seat 40-50 people with
the ring in there.
Were the kids still coming in?
Yes, on Saturday mornings they
would come in and line up around this
field and they would come in and work
out with me for 25 cents. If they beat
me, my Dad would pay them 50 cents!
My Dad only had to pay out 50
cents one time! That was pretty
incredible, with all the kids that
came in there…it just happened that
Yes, that is incredible…over
that amount of time!
So, amateur wrestling…I have a
real strong background in it.
And I don’t think a lot of fans
really thought the flamboyant
‘Gorgeous' Jimmy Garvin
had such a background.
Yeah, it’s really extensive. I
went for the Florida state
title…where I suffered a compound
fracture of my left elbow, and broke
that real bad. I would have won the
Florida state title if it wasn’t for
Some real tough luck there.
Eddie Graham drove me to that
Tournament. It was in Jacksonville,
and I compound fractured it at the Air
Force base up there. The bone was
driven right through the elbow and the
And because my parents weren’t
there, they couldn’t do anything for
me. They just had to wrap me up, and
Eddie Graham drove me back to Tampa…
Man, that’s gruesome
Jimmy. Something like that toughened you
up pretty quickly I’m sure.
Oh man! They put a pin in it, and
that was in there for a while.
How did you develop after that
Later on, my Dad, who was a
policeman with the Tampa Police
Department, passed away when I was 12.
I kinda cut out on my own from there.
was the oldest of four children…the
oldest boy. You know, I just kinda did
my own thing.
Didn’t you meet your wife Patti
at a very young age? A lot of
wrestling fans know Patti as
I met her when I was 16, and she
…we were just kids.
Yeah…and you all are still
together today, 35 years later!
We are! She, of course, was from
needless to say, my Mom ended up
marrying Ronnie (Garvin) about two or
three years after my Dad died.
Jimmy, I think a lot of people would be
interested in hearing about your
relationship, your real relationship,
Yeah…and I’ll tell it to you
fact is, that I was devastated from my
Dad’s death when I was 12…and then
I had Ronnie come into the picture two
or three years later.
know, wrestling was in my blood from
the time I was nine. So, it just so
happened that my Mom gets up with
Ronnie. We ended up going up to Canada
in the summertime to go fishing…like
in 1968 or something. Then she gets
married to Ronnie, and all that.
So, with this time line you’re
giving us, it doesn’t sound like
Ronnie was the one that got you into
Terry and Ronnie were tag team
partners down in Tampa. That’s when
I met Terry. Ronnie had nothing to do
with me breaking in the business.
I think a lot of people probably
think Ronnie played a role in your
No, he had absolutely nothing to
do with that.
To be honest with you, we never really
got along that well. You know, we
did…but we didn’t.
I’ve heard from people in the
business that even though you both now
live in Charlotte, you all don’t
have any interaction with each other.
Is that true?
We don’t talk. No…we do not
talk. And I’m not sure…but I think
maybe a psychologist or a psychiatrist
might be able to work it out! (laughs)
is such a strong-headed
individual…and he’s French
anyway---but I won’t hold that
against him! (laughs)
Ronnie’s a character. When he
met my Mom, hell, he was only 22 years
old or something, you know? Let’s
put it this way…he’s eight years
older than I am. I don’t know, [the
age] probably didn’t have a lot to
do with it…but, I mean, I just never
got along with him.
That’s pretty much been the case
Ever since we’ve met, yeah.
Not outright warfare between you
two…you just don’t have anything
to do with each other?
Yeah…we have nothing in common.
He doesn’t call me, and I don’t
call him. He will probably never call
me, and I’ll probably never call
him. When we happen to see each other,
we do talk…but it’s very brief.
…there’s just nothing there. I
don’t even know how to explain it. I
never really thought of him as a
That’s becoming pretty clear!
I left home when I was, hell…16
years old. From 12-14 my Mom hadn’t
met him yet. So I met him when I was
about 15. So, it only took me about
two years to figure out that this
ain’t gonna work. You know…I just
couldn’t be around---I had to go.
was a kid then, and so was he…you
That slight age difference between
you all probably didn’t help
There’s no open hostility
between us…we just have nothing in
I thought Ronnie was a
pilot…like you are.
I think he’s quit now, because
his company went out of business. I
think he’s quit flying all together
fact, I was the one that got him
started flying. Of course, he’d
never admit to that…
I was the first one to start
flying, and then he started flying
after me and I kind of prompted him
were always competitive. He always
thought that he was the better pilot.
And me, I was never that competitive
of a guy anyway, really…I could care
less about that stuff.
Ronnie always came off looking
that way to me…very competitive.
He’s a little more aggressive
than I am. Actually, he’s probably a
lot more aggressive than I am!
needless to say, he and I never really
hit it off. Nothing disrespectful to
him, but I preferred to go live on my
own and leave home…than to live