Chappell: 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!


Hawk: Oh, it definitely did.


Chappell: When we spoke previously, you told me that you first came to Jim Crockett Promotions from St. Louis.


Hawk: Yes, the Carolinas were my next stop after I left Missouri. And I tell you what, David , when I went in there…it was dead.


Chappell: You mean Crockett’s territory was dead when you went in there for the first time?


Hawk: Yes…nobody was drawing money in the Carolinas.


Chappell: Describe your move from Missouri to the Carolinas.


Hawk: 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.’


Chappell: What time period did you first enter Jim Crockett Promotions?


Hawk: That would have been 1960…1961.


Chappell: Who all was in the Crockett territory when you first came in?


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: Interesting, Swede was in the territory before you were!


Hawk: He sure was. Let’s see…George Becker was in there.


(pauses) 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.


Chappell: With that being the case, did you have second thoughts about coming into the Carolinas?


Hawk: (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.’


Chappell: (laughing)


Hawk: But all of a sudden, I was getting over pretty good…and we were drawing money.


Chappell: What got you over?


Hawk: (pauses) Well, not being conceited or anything…I just had a personality that got over to the people down there.


Chappell: Right…and you were somebody different.


Hawk: Yeah. So, I just stayed on and on in the Carolinas…like forever!


Chappell: (laughs) Well, we’re glad you did!


You 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.



Hawk: 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. 


When 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 go?’


Chappell: (laughs)


Hawk: 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, ‘Okay.’


Chappell: And the rest, as they say, is history!


Hawk: And, David , it worked out from the first time we teamed together.


Chappell: So, teaming up with Swede was your idea…you approached Mr. Crockett about it?


Hawk: Yeah…we were in the locker room in Charlotte, and I had the idea. And then they teamed us up.


Chappell: What did you see in Swede at the beginning that made you think the team would work?


Hawk: (pauses) I don’t really know…but there was something there. It’s hard to explain.


Chappell: Hard to put your finger on it…


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: That’s for sure!


You’ve mentioned Jim Crockett, Sr. several times in passing. Tell us about Mr. Crockett, Sr.


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: I’ve always heard very good things about Mr. Crockett, Sr.


Hawk: He had a sign on his door---All Wrestlers Welcome. He never closed the door on a wrestler.


Chappell: A lot of people in business today could learn a thing or two from Mr. Crockett, Sr.!


Hawk: He looked after the wrestling fans, too.


Chappell: And now we know we can thank Mr. Crockett, Sr. for getting the Hawk-Hanson team off the ground!


Very broad question…but tell us your thoughts on your long-time partner, big Swede Hanson.


Hawk: (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…


Chappell: That part always worried me, particularly when you would call him a ‘dummy’ all the time…he was a LOT bigger than you, Rip!


Hawk: (laughing)


He 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.


Chappell: How did that go over with big Swede?


Hawk: 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 explain.


Chappell: 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.


Hawk: Well, I believed that if you were a professional athlete, you should look professional.


A lot of guys didn’t care how they looked…they just dressed how they felt like. But that was never the way I went about it.


I was brought up…always take care of yourself.


Chappell: 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 stability.


Hawk: Oh yeah, definitely. For instance, one time I called up St. Louis and asked Bob 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 Miller . Swede had always idolized Big Bill Miller !


When I introduced Swede to Bill Miller 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 Miller had one! Swede came up and said to me, ‘Can you believe Bill Miller just gave me a needle and thread!’


Chappell: (laughing) Swede’s idol kept a sewing kit handy!


Hawk: 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 there!


Chappell: (laughing) It’s a wonder you got Swede back to Charlotte after that!