also went other places together…we went
all over. We had good runs in Florida and
I’m sure you all went overseas with
each other, too?
Yes we did. We went to Australia, New
Zealand and Indochina. We went all over the
Anybody who watched Jim Crockett
Promotions in the 1960s remembers the
long-running feud with you and Swede against
George Becker and Johnny Weaver. Tell us
about Becker and Weaver.
Becker was there when I arrived, and he
was already well established…
Yeah, I guess he had been going for many
years before you came to Charlotte.
George Becker had teamed with his
Bobby, but Bobby died. So George had different partners
after that, and was always looking for a
was in St. Louis one time, and Johnny Weaver
was there just hanging around. I asked
Weaver, ‘Would you be interested in coming
to the Carolinas?’ He said, ‘Yeah…I
don’t really have any place to go to right
now.’ So…I took him to the Carolinas,
and he made a great name for himself.
So at that point in time, Weaver had not
worked for Crockett?
You were actually the one responsible
for bringing Johnny Weaver into Jim Crockett
Yeah…I sure was.
And he turned out to be your biggest
rival in the ring!
That’s right…certainly one of the
biggest. I guess I have no one but myself to
blame, since I’m the one that brought him
(laughing) And you all had flare-ups
through the 60s into the early 70s.
Crockett liked him, Becker liked
him…and he stayed on and on. In fact, I
think he’s still there!
(laughs) Well…I believe Weaver still
does live around Charlotte to this day! So I
guess you’re right about that!
stood out to you about Becker and Weaver?
They were top of the line. They worked
very, very well together.
I always thought you and Swede meshed
well in the ring with Becker and Weaver. It
made for a lot of great matches.
Yes, and we had a lot of big crowds for
you know, I also really enjoyed you and
Swede against Weaver and Art Nelson. Nelson
became a babyface for a period of time in
1972 and 1973, and those were some great
Art Nelson was a great guy…I enjoyed
wrestling him. He was as tough as they come.
Another team I always associate you and
Swede with were the Scott Brothers, George
and Sandy. Tell us about the Scott’s.
Yeah, they came in [with Crockett] also.
Even though they were brothers, they never
Even back in the 60s? I know they are
estranged now, and thought their problems
went back a ways, but didn’t realize it
went back that far!
Yeah…and I’ve also heard they
don’t talk to each other now.Even
back then, they wouldn’t ride in the same
car together. They were a strange couple of
saw them for the first time in St. Louis…I
think it was in 1959. They just used them
for a couple of nights there…that was it.
I don’t know what happened with them
there…I have no idea. I didn’t see them
again until they showed up in the Carolinas.
Despite everything going on with the
Scotts, you still managed to have some
classic matches with them!
Oh yes, we definitely did.
From that early 1960s to early 1970s
time frame, you and Swede really wrestled a
wide variety of other opponents.
as far as your babyface opponents in the
Crockett territory, it seemed like you and
Swede either wrestled the strictly
scientific guys who could wrestle…or the
massive or muscular ones who could hardly
wrestle a lick!
That’s probably about right!
I always thought the team of Paul Jones
and Nelson Royal that formed in the late 60s
was a smooth wrestling team.
Oh yes. Nelson Royal was a class guy, he
really was. Paul Jones was another one. They
made a fine, fine team.
A team that you and Swede wrestled
roughly at the same time as Jones and Royal,
was the team of ‘Mr. Wrestling’ Tim
Woods and Sam Steamboat. Talk about a couple
of guys who could wrestle!
Tim Woods…now there’s another class
act. A very nice guy.
Sam Steamboat was a heck of a
wrestler, and a super guy. Very quiet, but
he knew what he was doing in the ring. Very
professional in every way. And, yes, they
both could really wrestle.
Of all of your opponents, I guess
you’d be hard-pressed to top Abe Jacobs in
the scientific wrestling category?
I loved Abe, I really did. He knew his
wrestling better than anybody, and was
always in fantastic shape.
One of the quirkiest guys you wrestled
on the babyface side, was Argentina Apollo
in the early 70s. I don’t know if you’d
consider him a scientific wrestler…he
seemed more like a gymnast or something to
(laughs) He was all right. I mean, he
was more of an artist…a painter. But he
was a pretty fair wrestler.
Contrast Apollo to some of these huge
babyfaces you wrestled, like Haystack
Calhoun. Or the Kentuckians….Tiny Anderson
and Big Boy Brown.
Oh gee, the Kentuckians---they were a
couple of cases…
(laughing) I bet it was tough having a
decent match with those guys!
Let me tell you what, Tiny Anderson had a
headlock on me one night and wouldn’t let
it loose…so I butted him, and I butted
him, and I kept butting him, until he
finally let me out of that headlock. He
didn’t like that very much!
those really big guys was tough.
What about wrestling the strong and
powerful athletic guys, like Sailor Art
Thomas and Luther Lindsey?
He was very strong. A nice guy, but
he hardly knew his right from his left!
That’s pretty much the same thing Abe
Jacobs told me about him!
But Luther Lindsey…oh God, I was very
fond of Luther. I liked him a lot. He was a
great athlete. He was from up your way in
As great as you and Swede were, there
were also some other great heel tag teams
around the territory with you all in that
early 60s to early 70s time period.
loved it when you all would break out
briefly and feud with the other bad guys in
the ‘Battle of the Bullies’ programs!
Oh yeah, they were a lot of fun to do.
The first one of those I really remember
was you all against Aldo Bogni and Bronko
I got along well with Bogni. I kept up
with Lubich for a long time. Lubich refereed
down here in Texas for quite a while.
know, they were managed by George Harris for
a long while.
Two Ton Harris was a big favorite of
George (Harris) is quite a story. He was
a real nice guy, and I give him a lot of
credit for having a lot of courage. He was
an alcoholic, and he went to AA and changed
his life around---it took a lot of courage.
When would this have been?
This was back around 1962, I guess…it
was pretty bad. But then he straightened his
life out…Jim Crockett helped straighten
him out. I give George a heck of a lot of
Back in that same period, you crossed
paths with the Infernos and J.C. Dykes?
I got along with them,
, but I never knew them that well. I never
really got that well acquainted with
them…even though we were out there
together for a long time.
Both teams were on top, but I guess you
all stuck with your own individual programs?
That’s exactly right.
Another great duo that you and Swede
butted heads with once in a while was the
team of Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy…
(laughs) Oh God…Brute, he was a nut
I had a lot of fun with that guy…I
really did---he was something else. He
wasn’t only crazy like that in the
ring…he was that way all the time!
was kind of quiet…unlike Brute! He was a
real nice guy, and easy to get along with.
A little later, you and Swede wrestled
the hated Anderson Brothers on occasion. I
guess that started in the late 60s when Lars
was in for a while…and went into the early
70s occasionally with Gene and Ole?
Yeah, we had some good ones with them. I
liked Gene. I liked Ole too, he just had his
own way of doing things.
wish he had stayed around North Carolina
longer. I liked him…he was very talented.
He went back up to Minnesota…I think he
was homesick. I saw him later in 1975, when
he joined up with the IWA.
Yeah, I think he went by his real name
As fans, of course, we remember all the
great matches you had in the ring. But as
time wore on, you also began assuming a role
in the (Crockett) office. I believe you even
booked the territory for a while. Tell us
about that side of your work in Jim Crockett
, that side came a little later after I had
been wrestling awhile. I tried to help with
bringing different guys in…guys that we
thought would do real well. Guys like Ole
Were you responsible for bringing Ole
Well…I had talked to Gene (Anderson)
about it. And Gene got a hold of him.
When did you really get into the
business end of things….actually booking
That was probably 1971-72.
During this early 60s to early 70s time
frame we’ve been talking about, the
Charlotte territory was really structured as
a tag team territory…
Yeah…very much so.
Two out of three falls…and the guys on
top were the tag team guys. Why was that,
and why did it stay that way for so long?
That was because of the Becker’s…
Bobby and George Becker. They came in as a tag
team, and they kept it as a tag team area.
Moto and Tosh Togo came in…and they worked
real well with Becker. Togo was in the
Now, (George) Becker pretty much in
effect ran the territory for quite a while,
He was a tag team guy, so I guess he
just kept it tag team?
Oh, [George Becker] stayed there
forever! But actually, when I first came
into Charlotte, I came in as a single for a
Yeah…I went in there as a single. I
drew money as a single.
What about the concept of the two out of
three falls tag team matches in the 60s with
Crockett…was it different working that
style of match? By later in the 70s, the two
out of three falls match was hardly ever
used, except occasionally as part of a
It was different to a degree, even back
instance, in St. Louis, they only did one
fall. Once in a while they would run a two
out of three falls, and it would be
something different for the people, you
know? But St. Louis mainly did one fall.
fact, Johnny Ringley and I were the ones
that started the one fall (matches) in the
Interesting. So, that would have been in
the early 70s when you were also working in
the Crockett office? Ringley was the
son-in-law of Crockett, Sr., right?
Right on both. John Ringley and I were
the ones that started that.
the same time, Johnny Ringo and I got
together and designed the patch for the NWA.
This was Johnny Ringo…not [Crockett’s]
(pauses) You know…the insignia for the
Oh, oh…the logo! So, this was Ringo,
not Ringley, that helped you design the NWA
I love that NWA logo…always have!
It took quite a while to get that thing
to looking just right.
I can imagine!
I’ve heard from a lot of the wrestlers
that the Crockett territory was a tough one
to work. At least as far as the travel and
the number of dates you had to work. Do you
remember it that way?
You have to remember, that back in the
old days we didn’t have a lot of the
freeways that were there later.
Yeah, that’s true. I hadn’t even
thought about that.
You know, we had to go to Asheville on
all those terrible mountain roads. It took
you hours to get there!
You must have hated those trips into the
Places in Virginia were bad too…
I bet Roanoke and that area was.
And getting to Richmond…it was just two lanes the whole way
in there. It was a lot different traveling
on the roads back then. Believe me, when
they started doing some of those new
interstate (highways), everybody thought it
was pretty neat!
if you wanted to fly, it was tough too. Back
then, the airlines didn’t fly all the time
every place like they do today.
I enjoyed it…I didn’t mind the travel at
I’m sure you viewed that as just part
of your job, but I’m sure it was a real
I was tough on your body…
But none of the guys I’ve spoken to
really complained about the travel.
They’ve just said it was a part of their
No, the old-timers aren’t
complainers…like you say. It was their
job, and they had to get to the towns. We
would go in the snow and sleet…no matter
how bad the roads were.
The show must go on!
tell you, I remember one time I was supposed
to wrestle Argentina Rocca in Charlotte. I
can’t remember the year, but it was around
the holidays. I’d gone home for the
holidays, and when I was on my way back I
got fogged in at Atlanta. I called the
office and told them that I’d be a little
was a sellout crowd, and the people were
waiting. It got to be about 9:30-10:00 that
night before they cleared the airport…I
called the office again and told them there
wasn’t going to be enough time to make the
show flying that flight. They said they’d
stall it in Charlotte, and they’d pick me
up and get me to the arena when I got into
town. That was SOME ride to the building!
(laughs) I bet!
When we got [to the arena], believe it
or not, the people were still there! And it
wasn’t a short match I had, either.
That had to be a LONG day!
Was it ever!
Despite the fact that you and Swede were
bad guys, the villains, you all had your
fair share of fans. Do you remember that you
all even had a Fan Club in your honor during
Oh yeah…I sure do. I remember Rock
Riddle ran the thing. He had shirts made up
That’s amazing! I mean, back then, how
many heel tag teams had their own Fan Club!
(laughs) I don’t think any!
But, you were different Rip. Even though
you were a bad guy, I always remember you
being very accommodating to the fans.
I always thought that was very
important. Some guys would grab the piece of
paper given to them for an autograph, and
tear it up---that was terrible.
were there for the people. They paid to see
us, and if they came up and asked for my
autograph, I always took the time to sign
it. I never turned anybody down.
That attitude came through, and to me
put you on a higher level than most of the
other bad guys. Even when you were on TV,
you seemed to have a good rapport with the
Of course…TV was very important. If
you didn’t get over on TV, you might as
well forget it. I got along well with the
announcers….Charlie Harville, Bob
Caudle, Bill Ward. They were all very good at what
remember I shocked Charlie one time.
How was that?
One night, Swede and I came to the TV
station late….we ran in and changed and
came out to the interview area.
had this kind of disgusted look on his face
and said, ‘Well boys, you’re late
tonight.’ I said, ‘Charlie, give us a
break, we just flew in from Toyko, Japan a
few minutes ago.’ He said, ‘
’t give me that stuff.’ I said, ‘We
just did…for real.’ Charlie thought for
a second…smiled and said, ‘Well, then,
why in the world are you here!’
(laughing) Good question, Rip!
(laughs) I still believe Charlie thought
I was making that up as a cover for being
late...but it was a fact!
One thing I’ve always been curious
about, is that you sometimes had managers
when you were in Jim Crockett
Promotions….be it Homer O’Dell or Gary
Hart. You spoke so well for yourself…why
the need for a manager?
and Hanson with manager Gary Hart
I’ll say this…it really wasn’t my
idea. I got together with Hart during a tour
over in Australia…he didn’t know where
to go, and all that. He had no experience in
the industry. When I got back to Charlotte,
I talked to Crockett about bringing him in.
I told [Crockett] if they didn’t have
anything for him, I thought that maybe he
could be our manager. Crockett said, ‘That
sounds pretty good.’ And it was a good
idea. Crockett always tried to help a guy
out if he could.
I remember well when you all had both
Hart and O’Dell (as managers) in the early
Hart left towards the end of 1972. At
that time, O’Dell was managing the
Missouri Mauler and Brute Bernard. So about
that time, they put us with O’Dell.
was probably best known for managing Bogni
and Lubich during the 60s…but they were
long gone by then.
, Swede and I really didn’t need [the
That was my impression. But you
certainly worked well with the managers.
Yeah…we got along fine with the
managers. We sure did. They were pretty good
of Homer O’Dell…I have a good story to
tell you about Homer. And it came out of
Swede, Homer and I were driving up to
Richmond in Homer’s Cadillac. I was in the
back seat, and Swede and Homer thought I was
asleep because I made it a point not to say
anything for about a half hour. Right as we
Richmond, we were encountering a lot more
got out my handkerchief and tied it around
my mouth like a gag, and put my hands behind
my back and bobbed my head up and down like
I was trying to get away. People in the cars
that were passing us had these horrified
looks on their faces as they saw me through
(laughing) Homer and Swede never saw
what you were doing?
No, they never did.
about 15-20 minutes later we get to our
hotel and are in the process of checking
into our rooms. A Richmond cop approached Homer in the lobby and
says he’s investigating the kidnapping of
Rip Hawk, and he’d like to ask him a few
(laughing hard) So, somebody out there
on the road who saw you ‘gagged’ in the
back seat called Richmond's finest???
doesn’t see me. He’s got his mouth wide
open…then he keeps telling the cop over
and over that there must be some mistake,
there must be some mistake, there must be
keeps turning his head looking around for
me. When I finally come over to where Homer
is at…the cop asks me if Homer was the one
who had abducted me.
turn to the cop and said, ‘YES---THAT’S
Homer about lost his mind at that point!
But I had pity on him then, and ‘fessed
(still laughing) Whew, Rip, that is a
Richmonders were always looking out for you!
Well, back now to wrestling!
held Titles during a good part of your run
with Crockett. I guess the Atlantic Coast
Tag Team Titles were the titles you help
I ask this on most interviews, and get
sort of a split response from the guys. Was
holding a Championship belt significant to
Oh yeah…they meant you were Main
They were significant to you, then?
That was the name of the game. I don’t
want to sound greedy about money…
No, it stands to reason that title belts
were a draw.
Swede and I held the World Tag Titles
for a time…we were very happy about that.
I can imagine! Certainly, title matches
were almost always at the top of the
cards…and that’s where the money was.
My point exactly!