Hawk: We also went other places together…we went all over. We had good runs in Florida and California…


Chappell: I’m sure you all went overseas with each other, too?


Hawk: Yes we did. We went to Australia, New Zealand and Indochina. We went all over the world.


Chappell: 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.


Hawk: Becker was there when I arrived, and he was already well established…


Chappell: Yeah, I guess he had been going for many years before you came to Charlotte.


Hawk: George Becker had teamed with his brother Bobby, but Bobby died. So George had different partners after that, and was always looking for a full-time partner.


I 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.


Chappell: So at that point in time, Weaver had not worked for Crockett?


Hawk: No…


Chappell: You were actually the one responsible for bringing Johnny Weaver into Jim Crockett Promotions?


Hawk: Yeah…I sure was.


Chappell: And he turned out to be your biggest rival in the ring!


Hawk: 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 in! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing) And you all had flare-ups through the 60s into the early 70s.


Hawk: Crockett liked him, Becker liked him…and he stayed on and on. In fact, I think he’s still there!


Chappell: (laughs) Well…I believe Weaver still does live around Charlotte to this day! So I guess you’re right about that!


What stood out to you about Becker and Weaver?


Hawk: They were top of the line. They worked very, very well together.


Chappell: I always thought you and Swede meshed well in the ring with Becker and Weaver. It made for a lot of great matches.


Hawk: Yes, and we had a lot of big crowds for those matches.


Chappell: Absolutely.


And 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 matchups.


Hawk: Art Nelson was a great guy…I enjoyed wrestling him. He was as tough as they come.


Chappell: Another team I always associate you and Swede with were the Scott Brothers, George and Sandy. Tell us about the Scott’s.


Hawk: Yeah, they came in [with Crockett] also. Even though they were brothers, they never got along…


Chappell: 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!


Hawk: 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 guys.


I 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.


Chappell: Despite everything going on with the Scotts, you still managed to have some classic matches with them!


Hawk: Oh yes, we definitely did.


Chappell: From that early 1960s to early 1970s time frame, you and Swede really wrestled a wide variety of other opponents.


And 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!


Hawk: That’s probably about right!


Chappell: I always thought the team of Paul Jones and Nelson Royal that formed in the late 60s was a smooth wrestling team.


Hawk: Oh yes. Nelson Royal was a class guy, he really was. Paul Jones was another one. They made a fine, fine team.


Chappell: 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!


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: Of all of your opponents, I guess you’d be hard-pressed to top Abe Jacobs in the scientific wrestling category?


Hawk: I loved Abe, I really did. He knew his wrestling better than anybody, and was always in fantastic shape.


Chappell: 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 me!


Hawk: (laughs) He was all right. I mean, he was more of an artist…a painter. But he was a pretty fair wrestler.


Chappell: Contrast Apollo to some of these huge babyfaces you wrestled, like Haystack Calhoun. Or the Kentuckians….Tiny Anderson and Big Boy Brown.


Hawk: Oh gee, the Kentuckians---they were a couple of cases…


Chappell: (laughing) I bet it was tough having a decent match with those guys!


Hawk: 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!


Wrestling those really big guys was tough.


Chappell: What about wrestling the strong and powerful athletic guys, like Sailor Art Thomas and Luther Lindsey?


Hawk: Sailor?  He was very strong. A nice guy, but he hardly knew his right from his left!


Chappell: That’s pretty much the same thing Abe Jacobs told me about him!


Hawk: 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 Virginia.


Chappell: 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.


 I loved it when you all would break out briefly and feud with the other bad guys in the ‘Battle of the Bullies’ programs!


Hawk: Oh yeah, they were a lot of fun to do.


Chappell: The first one of those I really remember was you all against Aldo Bogni and Bronko Lubich.


Hawk: 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.


You know, they were managed by George Harris for a long while.


Chappell: Two Ton Harris was a big favorite of mine!


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: When would this have been?


Hawk: 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 credit.


Chappell: Back in that same period, you crossed paths with the Infernos and J.C. Dykes?


Hawk: I got along with them, David , 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.


Chappell: Both teams were on top, but I guess you all stuck with your own individual programs?


Hawk: That’s exactly right.


Chappell: Another great duo that you and Swede butted heads with once in a while was the team of Brute Bernard and Skull Murphy…



Hawk: (laughs) Oh God…Brute, he was a nut case!


Chappell: (laughing)


Hawk: 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!


Skull was kind of quiet…unlike Brute! He was a real nice guy, and easy to get along with.


Chappell: 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?


Hawk: Yeah, we had some good ones with them. I liked Gene. I liked Ole too, he just had his own way of doing things.


Lars…I 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.


Chappell: Yeah, I think he went by his real name there… Larry Heinemi.


Hawk: That’s right.


Chappell: 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 Promotions.


Hawk: Well, David , 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 Anderson…


Chappell: Were you responsible for bringing Ole in?


Hawk: Well…I had talked to Gene (Anderson) about it. And Gene got a hold of him.


Chappell: When did you really get into the business end of things….actually booking the territory?


Hawk: That was probably 1971-72.


Chappell: 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…


Hawk: Yeah…very much so.


Chappell: 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?


Hawk: 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.


Charlie Moto and Tosh Togo came in…and they worked real well with Becker. Togo was in the ‘Goldfinger’ movie.


Chappell: Now, (George) Becker pretty much in effect ran the territory for quite a while, didn’t he?


Hawk: Right…


Chappell: He was a tag team guy, so I guess he just kept it tag team?


Hawk: Oh, [George Becker] stayed there forever! But actually, when I first came into Charlotte, I came in as a single for a little while.


Chappell: Really?


Hawk: Yeah…I went in there as a single. I drew money as a single.


Chappell: 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 special stipulation.


Hawk: It was different to a degree, even back then.


For 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.


In fact, Johnny Ringley and I were the ones that started the one fall (matches) in the Carolinas.


Chappell: 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?


Hawk: Right on both. John Ringley and I were the ones that started that.


Around the same time, Johnny Ringo and I got together and designed the patch for the NWA. This was Johnny Ringo…not [Crockett’s] son-in-law.


Chappell: Patch?


Hawk: (pauses) You know…the insignia for the NWA.


Chappell: Oh, oh…the logo! So, this was Ringo, not Ringley, that helped you design the NWA logo?


Hawk: That’s right.


Chappell: I love that NWA logo…always have!


Hawk: It took quite a while to get that thing to looking just right.


Chappell: I can imagine!


Rip, 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?


Hawk: You have to remember, that back in the old days we didn’t have a lot of the freeways that were there later.


Chappell: Yeah, that’s true. I hadn’t even thought about that.


Hawk: You know, we had to go to Asheville on all those terrible mountain roads. It took you hours to get there!


Chappell: You must have hated those trips into the mountains.


Hawk: Places in Virginia were bad too…


Chappell: I bet Roanoke and that area was.


Hawk: 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!


And 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.


But I enjoyed it…I didn’t mind the travel at all.


Chappell: I’m sure you viewed that as just part of your job, but I’m sure it was a real grind.


Hawk: I was tough on your body…


Chappell: But none of the guys I’ve spoken to really complained about the travel. They’ve just said it was a part of their job.


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: The show must go on!


Hawk: That’s right!


I 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 bit late.


There 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!


Chappell: (laughs) I bet!


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: That had to be a LONG day!


Hawk: Was it ever!


Chappell: 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 the 1960s?


Hawk: Oh yeah…I sure do. I remember Rock Riddle ran the thing. He had shirts made up and everything!


Chappell: That’s amazing! I mean, back then, how many heel tag teams had their own Fan Club!


Hawk: (laughs) I don’t think any!


Chappell: But, you were different Rip. Even though you were a bad guy, I always remember you being very accommodating to the fans.


Hawk: 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.


We 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.


Chappell: 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 announcers.


Hawk: 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 they did.


I remember I shocked Charlie one time.


Chappell: How was that?


Hawk: One night, Swede and I came to the TV station late….we ran in and changed and came out to the interview area.


Charlie 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, ‘ Don ’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!’


Chappell: (laughing) Good question, Rip!


Hawk: (laughs) I still believe Charlie thought I was making that up as a cover for being late...but it was a fact!


Chappell: 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?


Hawk and Hanson with manager Gary Hart


Hawk: 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.


Chappell: I remember well when you all had both Hart and O’Dell (as managers) in the early 70s.


Hawk: 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.


Homer was probably best known for managing Bogni and Lubich during the 60s…but they were long gone by then.


In my opinion, David , Swede and I really didn’t need [the managers].


Chappell: That was my impression. But you certainly worked well with the managers.


Hawk: Yeah…we got along fine with the managers. We sure did. They were pretty good guys.


Speaking of Homer O’Dell…I have a good story to tell you about Homer. And it came out of your hometown!


Chappell: Please…fire away!


Hawk: 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 were approaching Richmond, we were encountering a lot more traffic.


I 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 the window!


Chappell: (laughing) Homer and Swede never saw what you were doing?


Hawk: No, they never did.


So, 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 questions!


Chappell: (laughing hard) So, somebody out there on the road who saw you ‘gagged’ in the back seat called Richmond's finest???


Hawk: (laughing) Yep!


Homer 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 some mistake!


He 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.


I turn to the cop and said, ‘YES---THAT’S THE MAN!!’


Chappell: (laughing harder)


Hawk: Homer about lost his mind at that point! But I had pity on him then, and ‘fessed up!!


Chappell: (still laughing) Whew, Rip, that is a riot!!


You see, us Richmonders were always looking out for you!


Hawk: (laughs)


Chappell: Well, back now to wrestling!


You held Titles during a good part of your run with Crockett. I guess the Atlantic Coast Tag Team Titles were the titles you help most frequently.


Hawk: Yes.


Chappell: I ask this on most interviews, and get sort of a split response from the guys. Was holding a Championship belt significant to you?


Hawk: Oh yeah…they meant you were Main Event.


Chappell: They were significant to you, then?


Hawk: Money!


Chappell: (laughs) Understood!


Hawk: That was the name of the game. I don’t want to sound greedy about money…


Chappell: No, it stands to reason that title belts were a draw.


Hawk: Swede and I held the World Tag Titles for a time…we were very happy about that.


Chappell: I can imagine! Certainly, title matches were almost always at the top of the cards…and that’s where the money was.


Hawk: My point exactly!