Our thanks to Neil Lawi, Mary Ringwood, Keith Elliott Greenberg, and Dennis Brent with the WWE, as well as Erica Feldon with Simon & Schuster for their help in setting up this interview. Special thanks also to Mike Mooneyham and Chris Perry. 






As much as “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and all of his many accomplishments belong to the professional wrestling world at large, the fans of Jim Crockett Promotions and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling to this day still like to claim him as one of our own. And our claim is not without merit. Ric came onto the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling scene in 1974, and was a fixture in the territory until the area became extinct, merging into a larger Jim Crockett Promotions amalgamation of wrestling promotions in the mid-1980s.

As the years have passed, Ric’s legend had grown. But his love for the old Crockett territory, and his fans for him, has remained strong. While not visiting the Mid-Atlantic towns nearly as frequently as he did in the Crockett days, even the relatively rare Ric Flair appearances of the last 20 years or so in the Mid-Atlantic towns turn the respective arenas into Ric Flair love fests. Two of the most emotion filled evenings in Ric’s wrestling life in recent years occurred in Greenville, South Carolina, a true hotbed of wrestling during the Crockett years….on September 14, 1998 when he returned to WCW after a bitter absence, and at the WWE RAW tribute to him on May 19, 2003.


To the delight of his legions of fans from the old Mid-Atlantic area, Ric has written and just recently released his autobiography, Ric Flair: To Be The Man. True to his roots embedded in the Carolinas and Virginia, Ric has devoted considerable time in the book to his wrestling days in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling territory. Ric’s book is a must read for any Mid-Atlantic fan who remembers when Saturday afternoons with Ric Flair on TV and seeing him in person the next week in your local arena was a routine that couldn’t be broken…and a part of your life that could never be forgotten.


The Mid-Atlantic Gateway would like to express our gratitude to Ric’s co-author, Keith Elliott Greenberg, for his assistance with setting up this interview, along with World Wrestling Entertainment’s Vice President of Publicity, Neil Lawi, and his Assistant Mary Ringwood. Without the help of the folks at World Wrestling Entertainment, this Gateway get together with the former 16-time World Champion would not have occurred.


And special thanks are reserved to the man himself, Ric Flair, for including the Mid-Atlantic Gateway as part of his publicity appearances for his new book. In our 25 minute interview, Ric not only talks about his book, but also reminisces about the Mid-Atlantic days and all the great persons and events that made that time so special. Ric…your book and this conversation shows your continuing love for the Mid-Atlantic area and your fans here, and know that we feel the same way about you. To us, you’ve been ‘The Man’ since 1974…and always will be.


 - David Chappell

June 2004

Photos used in the title graphics are courtesy of the collection of Peggy Lathan. Graphics by Dick Bourne.


David Chappell: Good afternoon Ric. Thank you so much for giving [the Mid-Atlantic Gateway] a little bit of time to talk about your new book, Ric Flair: To Be The Man, and to do a little reminiscing about Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.


Ric Flair: Hi David …thank you very much.


Chappell: I think I speak for your many Mid-Atlantic fans, in that we’re all thrilled at long last you’ve written a book!


Flair: Thank you again. Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling is where I started…that’s where I got my beginning. And that’s something that will always be part of my life. It’s something that I’ll always remember.


Chappell: By my count, there are ten chapters in your book that are devoted strictly to the Mid-Atlantic area and Jim Crockett Promotions. And there are many references to those early days in other parts of the book as well. Tell us about your start in the Crockett territory.


Flair: You know, I was fortunate enough to come there at the right time. I was fortunate enough to be under the tutelage of both Wahoo McDaniel and George Scott.


And I was fortunate enough to stay for a long time, which was another unusual situation…to stay in one place for a long time and enjoy that level and quality of life.


Chappell: Back in those days, that was extremely unusual.


Flair: A lot of guys at that time, almost everybody, was moving around from territory to territory. I was able to stay in one city, one area, my entire career.


So, I was pretty fortunate. And when I look back on it…it was pretty unusual.


Chappell: When you look back at the Mid-Atlantic years, what jumps out at you? You were certainly maturing as a wrestler; you had many a great match in the ring; you had a lot of good times; you went to a lot of great places and towns; you made many great friends. What stands out?


Flair: (pauses) I think the friendships I developed there. And the fact that the territory was growing, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the branch that it grew on.


I became kind of a fixture because, as I said before, I was in the right place at the right time.


Chappell: When I looked at the Acknowledgements section in the book, Ric, I couldn’t help but notice how many Mid-Atlantic figures were mentioned there by name. To me, that says a lot about your feelings about the Mid-Atlantic area.


George Scott; Wahoo McDaniel, Ricky Steamboat; Bob Caudle, Arn Anderson…are all mentioned by name in the Acknowledgements. I’d like you to talk about each one of those persons, if you would.


Flair: Of course…I’d be happy to.


Chappell: The first is George Scott, who you’ve already mentioned briefly. George was booking the Crockett territory when you first started.


In the Acknowledgments section, you said George Scott, ‘took a kid who was rough around the edges and molded him into a champion.’


Flair: Yeah…he really did. I mean, I came in there a green kid. And even though I was fortunate enough to be around Wahoo, who helped me develop as a wrestler, George helped me develop my personality and my persona. George helped me with those things a lot.


Chappell: I also heard George could be very tough on the wrestlers. Blackjack Mulligan called him affectionately to me…a ‘taskmaster.’


There’s a section in the book where you describe George making you take your back brace off soon after you returned after the 1975 Wilmington, North Carolina plane crash…


Flair: Yeah…that’s right.


Chappell: Then you mention later in the book, that in 1979 you asked George if you could miss a TV taping at the WRAL studios when your son David was born in Minneapolis. George basically told you that you could go up there, but when you came back you wouldn’t have a job.


Flair: Well, on that, nobody had time off. We didn’t take time off. I just began to realize, that George actually made me tough to the business. He helped make me tough…which I had to be.


You had to be a pretty tough guy, and pretty insensitive, to survive back then.


Chappell: I can only imagine…


Flair: It was a very insensitive, very hard, business. And if you didn’t work…you didn’t get paid.


Chappell: Bottom line business.


Flair: If you missed a date…you lost your spot. That’s just the way it was.


(laughs) You just couldn’t call in and take two or three days off.