In an exclusive Q & A with Betway, legendary former Hacksaw wrestler Jim Duggan explains what wrestling was like in the 80s and 90s and where his nickname came from.
Where did you get your nickname, Hacksaw?
“I started my career in Dallas, Texas with Fritz Von Erich, and he brought me here. At the time, it was a closed business.
“If you weren’t someone’s son or grandson, you wouldn’t have come, but Fritz gave me the great gift of professional wrestling.” I started as Big Jim Duggan, with red and black pants and short hair. When I returned home to visit family in New York, the WWF was having a show in my hometown, and they thought they would use me and like what they saw.
“I was called into the office by Vince McMahon Sr., “Everybody was smoking cigars, there was a real mafia-type atmosphere. I was a young kid, and I didn’t know any better since I had just started wrestling.
So I showed up in the office with this long gold bathrobe on to try and make myself look better. So, when I showed up in Vince Sr.’s office, he told me, ‘Kid, you might have a future in the business, but if you want to stay here, lose the bathrobe and come up with something better than Big Jim!’
“I traveled to Hawaii, Georgia and Pensacola, and I changed my gimmick each time until a breakthrough in San Antonio, working with Bruiser Brody.
“I used to cut through the wedge in my football days, and Brody suggested, ‘How about Hacksaw?’
“Yeah, let’s try it, and that’s where I developed the character.
Did you know it would become as big as it is today?
Wrestling is a sport that has grown in popularity over the decades. “Nobody realized the WWE would become this huge worldwide powerhouse that it is today, let alone the Royal Rumble.”
In my 40 years of wrestling, I’ve wrestled in every state, every province in Canada and right up by the Arctic Circle and in 31 different countries.
Where does winning the Royal Rumble rank lie in your career achievement?
“Probably number two, the Royal Rumble was, you know, obviously the biggest feather, but as a kid, I grew up in upstate New York in a small town. You can only imagine the thrill of bringing my dad down to New York City and seeing Hacksaw Jim Duggan versus Andre, the Giant on the marquee.”
What changes do you think are now added in wrestling compared to wrestling back in the ’80s?
“The whole business has changed,” “Back then, you had only a few channels to choose from. You almost had to watch wrestling. There was wrestling, game shows and news, or nothing on TV. I think kids today are more professional than we were. Nobody is sleeping on the floor backstage, and nobody is getting wasted at night with free booze for the wrestlers.”