Hacksaw Jim Duggan Goes Full Circle With Wrestling Career
And after more than thirty years in the business, 'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan is still going out and putting on a show.
No one would have blamed him for hanging up his boots either. He had a very good career and is beloved by fans. He even overcame a major health scare in 1998 when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer which he beat and returned to the ring.
But a man knows what he loves to do and for Hacksaw, that's getting in the wrestling ring. At now at the age of 57, he's back working on the independent scene around the country working smaller shows again.
"It's like going full circle," says Duggan. "And now I'm in the twilight of my career and I'm back here in the high school gyms and National Guard armories. But I still love being in the ring and I really enjoy being around the young guys that are trying to break into the business now. They all have other jobs but they come to the shows, they work hard hard in the ring and try to perfect their trade so they can move up in the ranks. It's nice to see the young guys coming up."
A lot has changed over the years from when he first broke into the business. Back then, you learned by going on the road and working in different territories. Now, he admits, the WWE is pretty much wrestling but you can't argue with success.
"The actual wrestling in the ring and the interviews and all that, it's much different than it used to be. If almost like if 'Law and Order' is a TV show about policemen, WWE is a TV show about wrestling. It's totally different when you have people scripting your verbiage, scripting every step you take. It's not what I'm used to but like I said, hard to argue with success."
Duggan has seen a lot of success of his own over the years with his patriotic character and always supporting the good ol' USA. He has headlined shows at Madison Square Garden and been in the ring at WrestleMania on several occasions. One thing he doesn't particularly like is the stereotype that just because you are a wrestler means that you can make it in life.
"A lot of folks see the movie 'The Wrestler' and they see Mickie Rourke and all those guys," says Duggan.. There's a lot of people that are successful in this business: Tito Santana, Bob Backlund, myself. I've been with my wife, I'm raising my two kids who are a senior and freshman in high school and getting ready to go to college. I own my home. There are a lot of success stories in wrestling. We're not all degenerate, destitute people."
Throughout his career, Duggan has mainly been a fan favorite and still gets huge cheers when he walks through the curtain sporting the American flag, his 2x4 and giving a thumbs up while yelling his trademark 'hoooooo!' Still, Hacksaw claims that he doesn't know the secret for being such a big hit for so many years
"I just think that the fans see that I enjoy being out there in front of them, I enjoy performing for them and when I have an opportunity to meet them one-on-one or at an autograph session, I think they see what kind of person I am and it's just great to have that fan support because it's so hard... You always hear about what a legend Bill Goldberg is or Ultimate Warrior. They're kind of a flash in the pan. They're in the business -- boom, boom -- and they're gone out of the business. It takes an awful lot to stay popular year in and year out because people's tastes change."
"Nothing fancy about Hacksaw Jim Duggan -- just a 2x4 and a flag of the United States of America. That worked well in the 1980's and it works well in 2011."
One of the biggest moments in Duggan's career was back in 1988 when was the winner for the first-ever Royal Rumble. At the time, there were only 20 participants but he thought it was a radical idea.
"Usually a battle royal was a battle royal; everybody's in the ring and they ring the bell and you go at it. But sending people down every two minutes was a totally unique idea. I don't think anybody realized how big it would become, not only the Royal Rumble but the WWF which evolved into the WWE. That's something I still hang my hat on today, winner of the first Royal Rumble. It's great to be remembered."
Just two years ago, Duggan was once again in the Royal Rumble and entered the match at #29. He remembers rolling into the ring and the first person he ran into was The Undertaker.
"I gave him a punch, I gave him a punch and he said 'give me a big one Hacker.' I gave him the big one and he took a huge bump for me and it seemed like all the other guys got in a line and everybody took a bump for me which was a great sign of respect. Even Vince McMahon mentioned it when I came to the back and I said 'yes sir, I realize that was a sign of respect and something I've very proud of'."
This coming Sunday will be the WWE Royal Rumble pay-per-view and while he says he hasn't been asked to be in the match, Duggan is ready and willing if he gets the call.
"You never know. I will be in Boston -- the show is in Boston -- I'll be up there doing some other events not associated with the WWE so I might stop in but I always bring my gear. You know, an old-timer you always bring your boots and trunks. You never know when they might throw you in."