You talked about Patti earlier.
How did you meet up with
Ronnie and Terry used to go up to
North Bay (Canada) and wrestle for
had a territory up there. In fact, a
lot of people went up there. The Funks
went up there. When Terry Funk was a
kid, he went up there. He worked in
the Ice House…where they made ice.
It’s way up there…north of
I guess it didn’t draw a lot of
people in the winters!
But it was a great summer
territory. See, back in the 60s,
fishing was really great up there.
That’s what the guys did…they went
up there for the summer. They were
able to fish and have a good time, and
they made some pretty good money.
Cain was up there, who was later known
as the Great Mephisto. A lot of
talented guys went up there and worked
for the summer.
And you headed up there as well?
We headed up there in ’67…that
was the first year. Then we went up
there in ’68 for the summer. And in
’69 when we went up there, that’s
when I met Patti.
6th, 1969. We just
celebrated our 35th
Thank you…yeah, 35 years!
had moved out of my house in ’67 or
something like that. But I met Patti
up there in the summer of ’69.
that time, I think Ronnie was
wrestling here in the Carolinas…him
I think they were in with Crockett
around that time.
So, I came back and stayed a
couple of weeks with them. And then, I
left and went back up to Canada and
got a room at an old Hotel downtown
called the Empire Hotel. And I
actually stayed at that Hotel and went
to high school up there. But I only
stayed there a few months…by
November 1st I was in
Which is when and where you had
your pro debut.
Yeah…but I had to go up to
Canada a couple of months to see
Patti! I couldn’t stand being
without her or being away from her. I
felt like that about her right off the
like you said, I left and did the
Phoenix, Arizona thing. Didn’t know
sh*t! I was making $200.00 a week…I
remember that. That was good, and we
stayed there for a few months before
we went to Mobile, Alabama.
Describe how you did in the
Well, I met
Bobby Shane there. I was still managing
You still hadn’t begun to
wrestle at this point?
No, no. But in Mobile, that’s
where they first started to work me
into a few angles. So, I did get into
the ring. I was in the ring long
enough to know that I still needed
You still had a ways to go?
I needed to study, and figure out
how all of it worked. I still didn’t
have anywhere near what it took. But,
at least I got my feet wet.
being around people like Bobby Shane was great. He was a genius.
He was just a genius…that’s all
there was to it. He was kind of like
the Pat Patterson of wrestling to me.
It’s such a shame
Bobby Shane’s career was cut short.
Yeah, that was a real shame.
That’s for sure.
did the Mobile, Alabama thing, and I
was making $20.00 a night. That kind
of sucked! (laughs)
(laughing) Bet that was a short
It was, but it was beneficial…it
was a learning experience. It was
, that territory is where I got to
experience what heat was! And how you
need to control it!
Describe that to us.
That’s where I experienced my
first riot. Back then, you know, you
could have a riot pretty easily in
Meridian, Mississippi or Laurel,
Mississippi or some of those towns.
Or Richmond, Virginia…we had some infamous
ones during those same years!
Yeah, back in those days you could
really piss somebody off…and then
you were gonna have some trouble. And,
of course, I got to experience that!
first riot was in Meridian,
Mississippi…because I couldn’t
judge the heat. It was a learning
experience. As a manager, you know, I
was watching and paying
Bobby (Shane) and trying to learn as much
as I could.
Were you in there with Cowboy
Ellis? Everybody seems to say he was a
super nice guy.
Yes, and there was a Cowboy
Bob Kelly, too. But Cowboy
Ellis…he was just a great, great
Where did you head after Mobile,
I went into Oklahoma…
And Bill Watts was there?
Yeah, it was (Leroy) McGuirk’s
territory. Bill Watts was booking…
I bet that was interesting!
Oh HELL yeah!
Oh God…that was always a lot of
traveling---all the time. Travel was
very bad…very bad. We’d wrestle in
Shreveport on Friday, and have to be
in New Orleans on Saturday…or vice
versa. I mean, I’m talking 800 mile
stuff. It was terrible.
Was Watts as difficult to deal
with as you hear about?
(pauses) Yeah…but Watts was
That is probably the perfect
He was a hard-ass, you know? He
had his way, and that was his
way…and he wasn’t going to change.
He drove his boys into the ground; he
worked us to death.
again, all of this was a learning
experience for me.
Were you wrestling at this point
No, I was still managing, but I
was in those matches where if the
other guy won, he got five minutes
with the manager type of thing.
Yeah…so you were continuing to
graduate towards the ring!
Yeah…I was graduating to OFFICIALLY
gettin’ my ass kicked!
By the likes of
Danny Hodge, and sh*t like
that. [Hodge] looked like a great
white shark with his eyes rolled back
in his head, when he’d see me
coming, you know?
Because he’d get such a pop from
the crowd when he’d whip my ass, you
know, holy crap!
By now how old were you? Were you
getting any larger physically?
I was 19, but I still wasn’t
getting that much bigger.
Was that stint in Oklahoma more
trouble than it was worth?
No…when I look back on it now.
It’s kind of like when I was flying
freight…at the time I thought it was
the most terrible thing. But now,
I’m so glad I did it because I
learned so much. But would I want to
do it again…NO! But am I glad I did
was the Watts experience…it was just
one of those things. Again, Frankie
Cain was there. There was some great
talent there. And I watched, and
watched and watched.
Sounds like you were a student of
the business from the start?
, my interviewing skills were being
I would think so, because by that
time you’d been a manager quite a
Yes…but at first I wasn’t that
great, you know?
That’s hard for me to see
Gorgeous Jimmy Garvin
struggling on the mic!
(laughs) Yeah, I know. But you
didn’t think I just popped out of my
Momma’s womb doing this stuff?
(laughs) I don’t know…maybe!
You always exuded that great
personality in your interviews! You
know, ‘It’s not my fault’ and
all those other great lines!
But with Watts is where I learned
a lot of that…picked a lot of that
I think a lot of people,
particularly those that remember you
primarily from the TBS days, may be
surprised that you started so early
and really paid your dues big-time
through the old territories.
Yeah, and on that thought, I was
thinking the other day that I’ve
wrestled Lou Thesz…I’ve wrestled
Danny Hodge…and I’ve wrestled
Wow…that’s something! I
thought Rogers was great when he
briefly came into the Mid-Atlantic
area in 1979.
I wrestled Buddy in West Palm
Beach; I still remember that match.
don’t know if there’s anybody
living today that’s wrestled those
three guys I just mentioned!
(pauses) Geez…there couldn’t
be very many!
I’m sure there might be a few,
but you might find a few of the
old-timers that wrestled Thesz and
Hodge, but I don’t know if they’ve
wrestled Thesz, Hodge AND Rogers.
That is an interesting little
tidbit! I would be curious, for the
hell of it, to know who has wrestled
those three guys and is still living.
We have thrown a good trivia
question out there,
Jimmy! I hope we’ll hear back from some
folks out there on it.
I was in Oklahoma in like ’71 and
’72, and Tennessee was next.
Was Tennessee as bad as seemingly
Tennessee was in a class of its
own. Nick Gulas was the OLD-TIME
promoter, man! He was like the
vaudeville of promoters.
I’ve heard he was cheap to the
Oh yeah…yeah! And I got married
that year, too! Right before that, I
got married in ’72. I left Watts
long enough to go up to North Bay and
actually brought Patti back into the
Oklahoma territory when she first
Some honeymoon there,
God bless her!
I would do, and I’m just picking
some towns, but I would go like from
Tulsa to Little Rock…and I
couldn’t bring her to the matches. I
mean, hell, she had just turned 17
was from northern Ontario. I mean,
David, I couldn’t take her to Little Rock
or Pine Bluff, or wherever we were at!
(laughing) I lived out there for a
Jimmy! Good move on your part!
I’d rent a room, like at the
Holiday Inn and I’d put her there
and she’d stay in the room and I’d
go to the matches and work. Then I’d
come back and get her, and then we’d
leave and drive like a million miles
to the next town, and I’d have to
get another room…
And I did that…night after night
after night. But there’s no way
I’d want to subject her to the
arenas. So, she got that right off the
the atmosphere in the arenas was way
too strong, particularly way back
then. It wasn’t safe anywhere.
Not at all. That’s really some
way to get a marriage started!
Yeah…holy sh*t, huh?
But sticking through that, it’s
no wonder you all have stayed together
for 35 years!
(laughs) Oh, I know! And it
probably even got a little worse than
that later on down the road!
But we were in Tennessee in ’73
for Nick Gulas, and that was
Bass, God bless him, was there then.
Frank Hester…some real good guys.
my stories of the road on my website,
that’s where I wrestled the bear in
Bowling Green, Kentucky for Nick Gulas…
I gotta read that one!
But, again, it was a learning
experience. There, I was still
managing…Duke Meyers came in the
picture. I was managing Terry and Duke
Meyers. And you know,
my ‘Boogie Woogie Man’ Valiant
came in the picture then over there
for a little bit, and he and Terry
teamed up. So, I worked with them a
even there, I was really still just
When are we going to get you into
the ring and wrestle? (laughs)
1974 I went to Atlanta. That’s when
Ronnie and Terry teamed up…and I
think I was managing them both. We
were all living out there in Old
Virginia Condominiums…it was me,
Ronnie and Terry together for the
By this time, you had been
managing a good while…
About six years.
So I guess your interviewing
skills and knowing the psychology
about the business had grown
considerably by this time?
My psychology was really, really
good by this time. My interviews were
picking up. But my psychology was
pretty much right on the money.
Didn’t you go overseas about
After I left Atlanta, I went to
Australia…but just for a few months.
Bobby Shane was over there. He left
Australia, and then came back and got
He was over there, Frankie Cain
was over there and Bill Dundee was
over there. Bill hadn’t come to the
I didn’t stay in Australia long. And
when I came back, I took a year off.
What did you do during this time
away from wrestling?
I went up to North Bay, and bought
a friggin’ meat market!
Believe it or not, that’s what I
did. I sure did…
That sure came out of the blue,
Yeah. Patti being from up there
and her family being from up there…I
bought some land up there. I was
working with a real estate guy up
there and he said, ‘I’ve got a
meat market and it’s been around for
like 50 years. It’s right on Main
Street.’ I told him okay, and I
bought the thing.
didn’t know sh*t,
David. I knew the difference between a pork
chop and a steak…and that was about
I was young, real young…in my
Real young to be jumping into
something like that. Certainly, there
weren’t any similarities to that and
No…none at all. Absolutely none
at all. We ended up importing seafood
up in there, and becoming one of the
largest bonded seafood importers north
of Toronto. The business was great.