Chappell: Rip, one of the Gateway’s first interviews, a number of years ago, was with the Super Destroyer, Don Jardine. Frankly, he had several derogatory things to say about you in that interview. I’d like to read Jardine’s comments to you, and get your response.


Hawk: Sure, that’s fine.


Chappell: Jardine said about you:


‘Rip Hawk always tried to sabotage things. He would steal the promotional tapes and hide them so they wouldn’t get to the towns on time. He was jealous and envious of people coming in to take his position. Eventually, he was fired.’


Hawk: (laughing hard) David …all of that is a lie!


Chappell: The Super Destroyer certainly wasn’t very complimentary of you. I wanted to give you a chance to respond to him.


Hawk: (still laughing) My response is that it’s all a lie! Number one, I NEVER stole any TV tapes. I never did anything like that! Never took any tapes; never destroyed anything.


I have no idea why he would say something like that…I’ve never said a bad thing about him. Don must have been off in another world.


Hell, I was always for all the guys. I don’t why he would say stuff like that…unless he was just flipping out.


Chappell: Jardine’s comments on you have been out there for quite awhile, so I’m glad we’ve finally been able to get your rebuttal!


Hawk: Me too!


Chappell: Early in 1974, Ric Flair entered the Mid-Atlantic area…and was teamed up with you right away. I believe Flair was touted by the promotion as being your nephew?


Hawk: Yeah, he was.


Chappell: Tell us how you came to be Ric’s first partner. You all held the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles for much of 1974. It was a fascinating team…the pairing of the youngster and the veteran.


Mid-Atlantic Tag Champions, 1974 

(Photo: Bill Janosik)


Hawk: When they brought him in, he was kind of green. They decided to team him up with me, and as time went on, we became a pretty good team. We did real well together.


By this time, Swede and I weren’t partners anymore. Swede had suffered a heart attack earlier, but bounced back strong from it. In fact, as I recall, Swede was into it with Jardine when Flair first came in…


Chappell: Swede was actually a ‘good guy’ at this point…


Hawk: That’s right. So Flair comes in, and they teamed us up together. Flair was really my first full-time tag team partner after Swede.


Chappell: Of course, Ric Flair has gone on to become one of the greatest names in professional wrestling history…and is still active in the business today. Back in 1974, did you see Ric possibly scaling to these heights?


Rip Hawk and his "nephew" Ric Flair, being interviewed

by Bill Ward on television.


Hawk: Oh yeah…I knew he’d be big. He was very flamboyant…people noticed him from the start.


Chappell: This stretch in 1974 was also when you and Swede started wrestling against each other…


Hawk: Yeah, that was George Scott’s idea.


Chappell: How would you describe wrestling against Swede, after all those years of being partners?


Hawk: In a word…weird.


Chappell: (laughs) I would imagine so!


Hawk: It was weird. It went okay, I guess, but it never really felt right. I mean, we were together as a team for 16 years…that’s a long time!


Chappell: You left Jim Crockett Promotions for good at the end of 1974. What were your reasons for leaving the territory?


Hawk: They told me that I had been around for too long. That I needed to go, but I could come back later. I told them that if I was going, I wasn’t coming back.


Chappell: I believe you ended up with Eddie Einhorn’s IWA outfit during 1975?


Hawk: Yes I did. After I left Charlotte, I wasn’t doing anything. I was just sitting around the house, and then I got a call from Eddie Einhorn. He wanted to know if I’d wrestle for him, and he offered me a contract. It was a good contract…so that’s all there was to that.


Chappell: And as it turned out, with the IWA during 1975, you were wrestling in a lot of the Mid-Atlantic towns.


Hawk: Yeah, but we were also getting around to a lot of other places pretty good…like Cleveland and Buffalo.


Chappell: There was a lot of talent in the IWA.


Hawk: There really was. Ernie Ladd was there. Ivan Koloff went with it. Bob Ellis…they had some big talent.


Chappell: After the IWA stint, I believe you headed to Texas…and teamed up with Swede again if I’m not mistaken?


Hawk: Yeah, that was in the Amarillo territory.


Chappell: I guess your in-ring career was pretty much winding down at that point?


Hawk: It was…I wrestled some in San Antonio and Houston, but I was pretty much wrapping it up at that point. I finished up for good around 1980-81.


Chappell: And you’ve continued to live in Texas after your retirement from the squared circle?


Hawk: Yes, I live in Hereford, Texas, which is about 50 miles west of Amarillo.


Chappell: Even though you’ve been out of the ring for a long while, you’ve led and interesting and active life since your professional wrestling career ended. Tell us about the post-wrestling Rip Hawk.


Hawk: Well, I did well with several business things I got into. Did you ever hear of the popcorn on the cob?


Chappell: I sure have…I thought that was the coolest thing! I’ve given that as gifts before.


Hawk: We started the popcorn on the cob…where you pop it right on the cob in the microwave. We put that on the market. I got with some farmers, and they grew it. And we got other people to do the cutting, cleaning and packaging of it. I went to a lot of different places promoting it, and setting it up to sell. We sent some to Japan. It did well…if was kind of a ‘fad’ type of thing.


Chappell: I loved it…but had no idea you were involved in it, or I would have bought more of it!


Hawk: (laughs) We ended up selling it to the people at Disney World in Orlando…and the Holiday Inn Hotels there would give it out to the people staying there.


Chappell: You’ve also taught school at the junior high level, and coached wrestling since you’ve been retired from professional wrestling.


Hawk: Right on both counts! I coached wrestling for many years…this year was the last year I did it.


I have one kid that I’ve had since he was 10 years old...his name is Jeremiah Beltran. He got a scholarship to Ohio University…he’s going to the Olympic trials next week. He got a four year ride. He sent me something not too long ago from USA Wrestling…and I was referred to as his ‘distinguished coach.’


Chappell: That’s terrific, Rip! Now, when you coached wrestling I believe it was through the YMCA?


Hawk: Yes.


Chappell: So, you were training young guys to go into amateur/collegiate wrestling…it wasn’t a professional wrestling school.


Hawk: That’s right…I have some that went on to Oklahoma University, which is quite a wrestling school.


Chappell: And currently, at 74 years young, you are a personal trainer at the YMCA in Hereford. In fact, we’re doing this interview between clients that you are scheduled to train this evening!


Hawk: That’s right, David . I really enjoy what I do…I find I can really help people. I’m a fitness director at the [YMCA]. I gotta keep my feet going…never lay down. I don’t want to go home, sit down, and just watch the birds fly by!


Chappell: (laughs) Sounds like you’re still going very strong!


Hawk: I work sometimes nine hours a day.


Chappell: I can vouch to our readers that Rip is working hard this evening. We had to delay our interview tonight 20 minutes, so you could finish working out a client!


Hawk: (laughs) That’s right!


You know, David , I’m so proud of what I’m doing now. I have people come in here with various sicknesses and diseases, and I’m really able to help them.


Chappell: Give us an example if you would.


Hawk: I’ve been working with someone who has MS, and she could barely walk when she came in here. I’ve been exercising her, and she’s walking real well now. I’ve had her in here for nine weeks…next week will make it ten weeks.


Chappell: That must be really gratifying…to see those kinds of results.


Hawk: It’s fantastic. I’ve had people here with bone cancer…all kinds of illnesses. But they do it all…I just tell them how to do it.


Chappell: Well, they have to physically do the exercises, but without your guidance and encouragement they aren’t going to get very far!


Hawk: I also work with people that have issues with their weight, and have gotten some great results there as well.


Chappell: Do people in Hereford know or remember you as being a great professional wrestler?


Hawk: Oh yeah…they know I was a wrestler. I was invited over to a Kiwanis Club function one time, and really all I did was tell wrestling stories. I told them after awhile, ‘Doesn’t everybody need to be getting back to work?’ And they said, ‘No…we want to hear more stories!’


Chappell: (laughing) That sounds like something I would have said!


Hawk: I enjoyed myself there!


Chappell: You obviously enjoy talking about wrestling, and have certainly stayed active in amateur wrestling in later years. Do you ever watch professional wrestling today?


Hawk: I really don’t have too much use for today’s wrestling. But you know, the guys today work hard…don’t get me wrong.


Chappell: True…for sure.


Hawk: But they’re being pushed and pushed and pushed to do things that are very dangerous. They don’t want them to use any moves and holds anymore. You know, guys can get hurt pretty bad doing some of that stuff.


Chappell: That’s happened…there have been a slew of bad neck injuries over the last few years with a lot of today’s top guys. Just a cumulative effect from the constant high spots.


Hawk: If it’s done well…people like wrestling.


Chappell: Interestingly, Vince McMahon (and the WWE) has started to go back towards a more ‘old school’ style of wrestling. I suspect all of the injuries have driven him to do that, but whatever the reason, it’s nice to see a little shift in today’s product.


Hawk: We had an old saying…(Johnny) Valentine said it and did it best. Take that move or hold, and if you work it long enough…you’re gonna get ‘em. Make those people sit there, because they’re going to want your opponent to get out. But you don’t let him get out…you stay with that move. And finally, the people are gonna get into it. They’ll hit that stage of panic.


Chappell: Valentine was a master of that…he certainly practiced what he preached in that regard!


Hawk: Yeah, he did. And that’s the way it should be done. And it will work today!


Chappell: Absolutely.


Hawk: There are guys around today with a lot of talent. They have Kurt Angle…and a bunch more.


Chappell: Do you keep up with any of your colleagues from when you were wrestling?


Hawk: Some local guys from around here…that’s about it. A guy named Ricky Romero…


Chappell: Yes, the father of Mark and Jay Youngblood…who were with Crockett a number of years after you left the territory.


Hawk: That’s right.


Chappell: In November, there will be the second Mid-Atlantic Legends Reunion and Fanfest held in Charlotte. I know I speak for a lot of fans in that we would love to see you there!


Hawk: I hope it will work out for me to be there with everybody.


Chappell: When you were in the Crockett area wrestling, what were some of your favorite towns and places to go?


Hawk: I used to love going to Richmond and Norfolk. I think they were my favorites.


Chappell: We loved you in Richmond…I tell you that! You made many a Friday night enjoyable for us in Richmond.  And I know Thursdays down in Norfolk as well.


Hawk: Yeah…they were my favorite towns of all of them. And Charlotte…I enjoyed Charlotte, too.


Chappell: Did you live in Charlotte while you were campaigning in the territory?


Hawk: Yep…I did.


Chappell: Most of the boys lived in Charlotte, didn’t they?


Hawk: Yes, they sure did.


David , I wanted to mention something else if I could…


Chappell: Of course.


Hawk: I have a daughter, Jessica, who is quite an athlete.


Chappell: Please tell us about her.


Hawk: She was a great volleyball player. She played in high school, and made varsity as a sophomore. Then she got a ride to Waylon Baptist University, in Plainview, Texas, and she did great there playing volleyball. Now she’s the Director of the High Plains Volleyball Association in Amarillo…she also coaches volleyball there. She’s got a pretty good job.


Chappell: That’s great…following in her father’s athletic footsteps!


Hawk: In a way, I guess!


Chappell: Well, finishing up Rip, is there anything you’d like to say to all the fans out there?


Hawk: Are you still taping this? (laughs)


Chappell: (laughing) Yes! And please keep in mind, members of the Rip Hawk Fan Club are still lurking out there and listening to you now!


Hawk: (laughing) I’ll definitely remember that as I choose my words!


Well, seriously, it’s just great to know after all these years that you have people out there that still remember you. Once in awhile, I’ll hear from wrestling fans. The other day, I got a picture sent to me from a fan in Pennsylvania that he wanted me to autograph. And of course I signed it, and sent it back to him.


It’s really nice to know that people haven’t forgotten you.


Chappell: Believe me, you haven’t been forgotten…far from it. We’ve had as much or more interest in this interview with you, than any one we’ve ever done.


Hawk: That’s really nice to hear.


Chappell: It’s been a true pleasure to speak with you tonight, Rip. I greatly appreciate all the time you’ve given the Mid-Atlantic Gateway on a busy evening for you. I hope we can do this again soon.


Hawk: Sure…anytime you want to, David . Maybe a number of times…I might want to live another 20 years! (laughs)


Chappell: (laughs) You have enough memories and stories to keep our site going at least that long!


Hawk: Well, I really appreciate everything. I’m really happy you called.