Paul Stratoti gets personal with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
It’s now been just over 2 years since this reporter last spoke to the true “Hacksaw” of professional wrestling, during which time I mistakenly referred to him as a WWE Hall of Famer, during interview questions which was much to the laughter of Greg Valentine who was also sitting at our table and who as a result was inadvertently eavesdropping. It would be another 7 months before “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame.
His enthusiasm for producing a well put together package hasn’t waned in recent years and he has adapted well to the ever-constant changes that have taken place during his amazing 38 years in wrestling and Sports Entertainment as well as those in his personal life.
Jim Duggan became the first wrestler from Glens Falls, New York to win the New York State High School wrestling championship – unlimited weight class division.
Persistent knee injuries may have kept him from active National Football League success after being signed by the Atlanta Falcons but even that seems muted now that recently Jim was inducted into the National Football League’s “School of Legends.”
Jim met Promoter Fritz Von Erich at Southern Methodist University who in 1979 began training him to be a heel at the Dallas, Texas Sportatorium. He wrestled Gino Hernandez during his first match and shortly thereafter Chief Peter Maivia began promoting him which captured the attention of Vince McMahon Sr.
After a brief WWF career, Duggan began his WCW career where in the United States he was known as “Big Jim” Duggan whereas in Hawaii he wore a mask and was called “The Convict”. He adopted his “Hacksaw” nickname in San Antonio, Texas shortly thereafter.
In 1982, Duggan debuted for Mid-South Wrestling and soon joined the Rat Pack of Mr. Olympia, Ted DiBiase and Matt Bourne. Shortly after that, he feuded with newcomer Butch Reed over the name “Hacksaw”. When that feud ended, the true “Hacksaw” became a fan favorite for the first time in his career after refusing to align himself with Skandor Akbar as DiBiase had done.
During his Mid-South career, Duggan got into a confrontation with a fan which resulted in his fracturing that fan’s orbital floor of the fan’s eye socket which resulted in a lawsuit that netted that fan $25,432.
Of his other notable career highlights are included:
- His January 1987 debut in WWE
- He made his first major WWE statement 3 months later for his largest in-person crowd ever where in front of 93,173 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome he quickly ran down the aisle waving an American flag that was attached to his trusty 2 X 4, and entered the ring interrupting Nikolai Volkoff’s singing of the Russian National Anthem and then attacking the former Beppo Mongol and his partner the Iron Sheik during their pre-match ritual. Those actions made him one of America’s most patriotic Superstars and his continued waving of the American flag and chants of “USA! USA!” during all of his matches have captivated millions of fans since.
- Being pulled over by New Jersey police after a WWF event and found to be under the influence of marijuana and alcohol and thus receiving a conditional and temporary release from WWE.
- Winning the inaugural WWF Royal Rumble battle royal in 1988 by defeating the One Man Gang.
- Defeating King Haku in 1989 to become the new “King of the Ring”.
- Defeating Sergeant Slaughter in 1991 by disqualification during a WWE match despite having Hulk Hogan in his corner.
- Becoming the first WWF wrestler to knock the near 600-pound Yokozuna off his feet on WWF Superstars in 1993.
- Jumping to WCW in 1994 and soon defeating Steve Austin in 35-seconds to win the WCW United States championship.
- Defeating kidney cancer in 1998 crediting early detection, God’s plan and a superior medical team for that victory.
- Beginning wrestling on the independent circuit upon the WWE’s March 2001 purchase of WCW.
- Returning to WWE in 2005.
- Setting a record for the most years between Royal Rumble appearances in 2009, he entered as #29 in the match but was eliminated by the Big Show.
- Reappearing since that time on WWE RAW house show “dark matches” (those not shown on TV).
- Induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
- Appearing on September 5, 2011 for Mega Championship Wrestling. During this time I managed to speak with him on behalf of Pro Wrestling Digest where I mistakenly called him a WWE Hall of Famer.
Hacksaw: “I’m not a WWE Hall of Famer, brother.”
[Greg Valentine laughs as he chows down on Chinese Rangoons.]
Strat: Oops! I thought you were.
Hacksaw: “No. Now I want to take this time to thank all of the men and women serving us in Afghanistan and Iraq!”
Strat: The last time that I spoke with you was 4 and a half years ago where you battled and defeated the Russian Nikita Alanov. I mentioned to you that I’d be seeing Killer Brooks and you told me about that hunting trip.
Hacksaw: “At Jumbo Jacks.”
Strat: Tonight you wrestled a man who hails from Pakistan nearly 9 years after 9/11.
Hacksaw: “Well, yes, that was a traumatic time for all of us but as for tonight I think the crowd is looking forward to cheering on for the good ol’ US of A. Obviously, this kid was fairly new to wrestling and he still knew how to work in the ring and we showed that the American vs Anti-American still works.”
Strat: What do you consider to be your top Sgt. Slaughter memory?
Hacksaw: “Without a doubt around 1979-1980 at the old WWWF event center in Allentown, PA. Vince Sr. was running the show and Vince Jr. was doing the announcing. I was wearing red and black trunks and running around as Big Jim Duggan. Clean shaven with short hair and a long gold bathrobe. I tried to get out of the “Cobra Clutch” by Sergeant Slaughter and this was the first major thing that I did in professional wrestling.”
Strat: Thank you sir, and God Bless America!
Hacksaw: “You’re not kidding!”
- Appearing on April 10, 2012 on SuperSmackdownLIVE: Blast from The Past where he lost to Hunico by disqualification.
- Appearing on July 3, 2012 on SuperSmackdownLIVE: The Great American Bash teaming with Santino Marella and Sgt. Slaughter to face Camacho, Hunico and Drew McIntyre.
Appearing at an outdoor event on August 4, 2012 at The Keg Stand in West Des Moines, Iowa for 3XW where he came to the ring with the American Bulldogs.
- Appearing August 10, 2012 for World Of Hurt Wrestling at South Glens Falls High School, the first time Hacksaw wrestled professionally at his alma mater since 1999 where he was a member of World Championship Wrestling.
-Now, Duggan shall also be appearing with other Legends on the WWE Network’s WWE Legend’s House, a TV show which is currently in production.
– Article & Photos by Paul Stratoti