Our special thanks to Peggy Lathan and Wayne Castevens for hooking us up with Rip Hawk for this very special interview with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.




Jim Crockett Promotions had many a great wrestler pass through its doors during its 50 plus years of promoting professional wrestling. But one of the most enduring figures of all of those performers was Rip “The Profile” Hawk.


In the 1960s, before it was called Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, there was no more familiar face associated with Crockett’s “All-Star Wrestling” than Rip’s. Teaming with big Swede Hanson, the duo of Hawk and Hanson wrecked havoc in the territory’s tag team division into the early 1970s.


As the years rolled on, Rip also became involved in the business side of Jim Crockett Promotions, and saw first hand the changeover from the All-Star Wrestling of the 60s to the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wresting of the 70s. In fact, in a way, he became a casualty of the Company’s transition.


On the wrestling side of that transition, Rip formed a championship team with a newcomer named Ric Flair in 1974. Clearly, there was never a more visible convergence of the old and the new of the promotion than with that tandem. But, like with everything else he ever did, Rip Hawk made it work…and then some.


Despite always being a wrestling “bad guy,” Rip stood apart from that stereotype…and rose above it in many ways. Cagey and crafty in the ring, Rip was able to produce great matches despite possessing limited size and strength. During his interviews, Rip had the uncanny ability to make you furious and chuckle in the same promo…no small feat! Always dressing immaculately, Hawk exuded the look of a professional. Rip not only looked professional, but he acted that way too. Despite his wrestling persona, Rip Hawk always had time for his wrestling fans, and treated them respectfully. Perhaps that’s why a Fan Club sprung up for Rip and Swede in the 1960s…an amazing thing in those days when wrestling fans were, supposedly, required to outright hate the bad guys.


The Mid-Atlantic Gateway sends special thanks out to Wayne Castevens and Peggy Lathan for their assistance in lining up this interview with Rip. Without their efforts, you would not be reading this right now.


And my deep appreciation goes out to Rip Hawk, who took time out of his busy schedule to accommodate the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. And when I say busy schedule, I’m not kidding. At age 74, Rip is a personal trainer, and we scheduled this interview between workouts! Rip…you are as classy and professional now as when I remember you from the Crockett days. Thank you for everything, and I hope we can do this again soon.


 - David Chappell


David Chappell : Rip, many thanks for taking the time to talk with the Mid-Atlantic Gateway this evening.


Rip Hawk: I’m glad to be here with you.


Chappell: Amazingly, your in-ring career spanned five different decades. Tell us about your start in wrestling.


Hawk: Yeah, I started way back in about 1949. And I went to about the1980-81 area.


Chappell: How did you break in?


Hawk: As an amateur…


Chappell: I didn’t realize you had an amateur background.


Hawk: Yeah, in those days, we had Club wrestling. That’s how I started. A lot of the YMCA’s had it, especially in the Midwest. It was really big in places like Oklahoma and Iowa.


Chappell: Now, where are you from originally?


Hawk: Ohio….around Toledo, Ohio.


Chappell: Did you begin your wrestling endeavors in Ohio?


Hawk: Yes, I sure did.


Chappell: How did participating in the local Club wrestling scenes and the like lead you into professional wrestling?


Hawk: Well, it helped me get noticed by Jack Dempsey!


Chappell: You mean the heavyweight boxing champion, Jack Dempsey?


Hawk: Yes…he really edged me into [wrestling].


Chappell: Really? How did that all come about?


Hawk: I was wrestling at a PAL…Police Athletic League, at the time. He came up there, and saw me working out. He encouraged me a lot…when he said something you listened!


Chappell: I bet!


Hawk: He really lit a fire under me. A lot of people remember Jack Dempsey only for his boxing, but he was involved in wrestling as well.


Chappell: Wasn’t he a special referee in some pretty significant professional wrestling bouts?


Hawk: He sure was.


Chappell: Now, right when your wrestling career was just getting started, it got put on hold when ‘Uncle Sam’ came calling?


Hawk: (laughs) Yeah, he sure did call me!


Chappell: We’re talking about the years in and around the Korean War, correct?


Hawk: That’s right.


But, David , I did wrestle when I was serving in the Marine Corps.


Chappell: You did? How was that experience?


Hawk: It was really a very good experience. I wrestled some pretty good guys there, believe me. Big guys, too…you couldn’t help but improve by going against that bunch.


Chappell: After you ended your military service, I guess your wrestling career really took off from there?


Hawk: Well, yes…eventually. When I first got out, I was sort of trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life…


Chappell: Like a lot of young men just getting out of the service, I’m sure you weren’t alone in that respect. I guess we’re talking about the mid 1950s now?


Hawk: Yeah…that was the time. I started to move around at that point.


Chappell: What are some of the professional wrestling territories you appeared in soon after your military service ended, that you remember the most?


Hawk: (pauses) I was down in Tennessee for a while…that wasn’t a good stay.


Chappell: You’re not the first wrestler that’s told me that about Tennessee!


Hawk: Let’s see…I was down in Atlanta, Georgia. I got over pretty good there. I really got my first real break as a pro there.


Chappell: Tell us about that.


Hawk: I was in Atlanta as a preliminary guy, and I had a match with Fred Blassie on TV….


Chappell: Gee…Blassie was a huge star then! And I guess wrestling on television was just really starting to get going then?


Hawk: You’re right. That TV match I had with Blassie got over big, and the next week I had a Main Event against him at the City Auditorium in Atlanta…


Chappell: Unbelievable!


Hawk: Yeah, I was only about 25 (years old) at the time…and here I was main-eventing with Fred Blassie!


Chappell: That had to be your biggest match to that point.


Hawk: Oh yes…we had a big crowd, too. Biggest payday I had ever made!


Chappell: I’m sure!


Hawk: [Blassie] was big-time box office!


(laughs) I think then ringside seats were a dollar, and it was 50 cents for kids!


Chappell: (laughing) But, Rip, that was the going rate back then!


Hawk: Yeah! But that is what really got me going.


Chappell: Tell us a little bit about the late great Freddie Blassie.


Hawk: (pauses) Remember, he had been wresting a good while before the time we’re talking about now. But he was definitely a great performer when our paths crossed. I thought he was a great guy…we got along well.


Chappell: Where did you head after this breakout stint in Georgia?


Hawk: St. Joe, Missouri. I stayed there for quite awhile. I had a good long run there.


Chappell: Who were your main programs with there?


Hawk: Sonny Myers was in there. Larry Hamilton was a big one…


Chappell: Larry Hamilton---The Missouri Mauler!


Hawk: Yes.


Chappell: That’s right, I remember the Mauler being billed from St. Joe, Missouri.


Hawk: Oh yes, that’s where he was from. It was tough wrestling him there…the people really hated me in that town. They wanted to string me up!


Bob by Bruns was in there too…and he was the one that got me some shots in St. Louis.


Chappell: That was big, because no doubt St. Louis was the Mecca of the NWA…certainly at that time.


Hawk: That’s right.


Chappell: What were some highlights of this time in St. Louis?


Hawk: They had me with Gorgeous George there, and it got over really well. That was the first time I ever made a thousand dollars!


Chappell: What time period are we talking here, Rip?


Hawk: This would have been 1958.


Chappell: So, you were wrestling in the famous Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis?


Hawk: Yes, and Sam (Muchnick) told me after being in there with Gorgeous George, that I wouldn’t have to worry about anything ever again.


Chappell: In a wrestling sense!


Hawk: (laughs) Right!