Well, you were certainly on a steady
climb up the ladder then, but I suspect the
situation with Gorgeous George really put
you over the top!
Oh, it definitely did.
When we spoke previously, you told me
that you first came to Jim Crockett
Promotions from St. Louis.
Yes, the Carolinas were my next stop
after I left Missouri. And
I tell you what,
, when I went in there…it was dead.
You mean Crockett’s territory was dead
when you went in there for the first time?
Yes…nobody was drawing money in the
Describe your move from Missouri to the
I remember that [Jim Crockett, Sr.] had
called the office out there. Bruns asked me
if I wanted to go to North Carolina. I said,
‘Yes…might as well.’
What time period did you first enter Jim
That would have been 1960…1961.
Who all was in the Crockett territory
when you first came in?
Let’s see…there was a guy in there
by the name of Gypsy Joe. A couple of fellas
called the Medics. Swede (Hanson) was in
there, but he was just a preliminary guy.
Interesting, Swede was in the territory
before you were!
He sure was. Let’s see…George Becker
was in there.
I’m trying to think of who else was in
there then. There weren’t a whole lot of
people in there. Nobody wanted to go there,
because there was no money.
With that being the case, did you have
second thoughts about coming into the
(laughs) After about a couple of weeks
there, I called Bruns and said, ‘I might
have to come back to St. Louis…it’s kind
of dry here.’
But all of a sudden, I was getting over
pretty good…and we were drawing money.
What got you over?
(pauses) Well, not being conceited or
anything…I just had a personality that got
over to the people down there.
Right…and you were somebody different.
Yeah. So, I just stayed on and on in the
(laughs) Well, we’re glad you did!
mentioned earlier that Swede was already in
with Crockett when you first arrived. I know
everyone would like to hear how you and
Swede hooked up as a team.
He was in there, and I’d met him when
I started in Charlotte. Then I had to fly
back out to St. Louis for a couple of dates
in Kiel. I stayed out there for a while,
before I came back to the Carolinas to stay.
I went back to Carolina, I saw Swede sitting
in the locker room in Charlotte. I unpacked
my bags and was going around telling
everybody hello, and then I went over to
Swede and I said, ‘You still
here…don’t you have anywhere else to
So…Swede just looks at me. I went and
talked to Crockett, and he said, ‘Yeah…I
think I’ll team you guys up.’ I said,
And the rest, as they say, is history!
, it worked out from the first time we
So, teaming up with Swede was your
idea…you approached Mr. Crockett about it?
Yeah…we were in the locker room in
Charlotte, and I had the idea. And then they
teamed us up.
What did you see in Swede at the
beginning that made you think the team would
(pauses) I don’t really know…but
there was something there. It’s hard to
Hard to put your finger on it…
Yeah…but there was definitely a
chemistry there. We teamed up, and got over
so good, that I told Crockett, ‘Why
don’t you make us a permanent team
here?’ He said okay, and we ended up the
hottest team around.
That’s for sure!
mentioned Jim Crockett, Sr. several times in
passing. Tell us about Mr. Crockett, Sr.
Jim was a wonderful person. I mean, to
me, he was one of the greatest promoters
around. And as a person, he was just a very
nice man. If you ever had any problems, you
go always go in and talk to him.
I’ve always heard very good things
about Mr. Crockett, Sr.
He had a sign on his door---All
Wrestlers Welcome. He never closed the door
on a wrestler.
A lot of people in business today could
learn a thing or two from Mr. Crockett, Sr.!
He looked after the wrestling fans, too.
And now we know we can thank Mr.
Crockett, Sr. for getting the Hawk-Hanson
team off the ground!
broad question…but tell us your thoughts
on your long-time partner, big Swede Hanson.
(pauses) Well, Swede was kind of
awkward…and a little shy. But there was
just something about him…I don’t know
what it was. But we just started clicking.
Of course, he was a lot bigger than me…
That part always worried me,
particularly when you would call him a
‘dummy’ all the time…he was a LOT
bigger than you, Rip!
would wear these tee shirts and blue jeans
all the time. I told him that if he wanted
to travel with me, he’d have to wear a
suit or a sports coat.
How did that go over with big Swede?
He told me he didn’t have a sports
coat. I told him that he had to buy one,
then! I told him that he had to start
dressing real nice. Good things just started
happening with Swede and I…it’s hard to
I definitely remember how you all
dressed…and it made an impression on me.
Even though you and Swede were the bad guys,
you came off looking classy and
professional. You all just looked a cut
above a lot of the other wrestlers.
Well, I believed that if you were a
professional athlete, you should look
lot of guys didn’t care how they
looked…they just dressed how they felt
like. But that was never the way I went
was brought up…always take care of
From the early 1960s through the early
1970s, you were primarily in the Carolinas
and Virginia. But you still moved around
some, even in that time period of relative
Oh yeah, definitely. For instance, one
time I called up St. Louis and asked
by (Bruns) if I could bring Swede in there.
Now, St. Louis didn’t go in for tag teams
that much. So, they put him on the card out
there as a single against Big Bill
. Swede had always idolized Big Bill
I introduced Swede to Bill
and a few of the other guys in St. Louis, he
got so excited he broke into a sweat! And he
needed to change his clothes. Somehow, when
he was changing he tore his trousers. He
asked me if I had a needle and thread, and I
told him I didn’t. But Bill
had one! Swede came up and said to me,
‘Can you believe Bill
just gave me a needle and thread!’
(laughing) Swede’s idol kept a sewing
St. Louis was good…they’d have a guy
there that would give you a rubdown after
your match. You could really relax. I
didn’t think I could get Swede out of
(laughing) It’s a wonder you got Swede