Welcome to the Harley Race Chat
Join SLAM! Wrestling on Tuesday, March 13 at 3 pm ET to chat LIVE with wrestling legend Harley Race. Ask the eight-time world champion about his storied career in pro wrestling, and his current involvement with the World League Wrestling promotion and his web site, www.HarleyRace.com.
Moderator: Former 8-time NWA World Champ Harley Race is live and ready to take your questions. Let’s go to the first question.
Alan Omelia: What originally got you interested in pro wrestling.
Harley Race: It came up live on TV in St. Louis, Missouri in 1957. I saw it with my parents and said that was I was going to do — they chuckled and a year later that was what I was doing. At first I met Gus Karresson, and I was trained by Hobby Graham and Ray Gordon.
John Pollock: Which stars in your World League Wrestling promotion have the most potential?
Harley Race: All That Matt Murphy and Superstar Steve.
Peter Traverse, Newfoundland: When you think back on your storied career is there any one moment of moments that stand out?
Harley Race: Oh, it definitely would be 1973, Kansas City when I beat Dory Funk Jr for the world title.
Heath Hoffman: Hey Harley Race, I wanted to know who was your toughest opponent ever. Also who you do you think is the greatest NWA champion of all time? thanks
Harley Race: The toughest opponent ever was, wrestling-wise Dory Funk Jr., brawling-wise, Bruiser Brody or Dick The Bruiser. If I can’t pick myself, the guy that I replaced, Lou Thesz.
Terry Harris: What are your memories of Toronto or even of the late Frank Tunney.
Harley Race: Frank Tunney was a very, nice honest guy. Got to have fond memories of Toronto because that’s number 2. Only two brothers ever held the title and I beat both brothers, the last was Terry Funk in Maple Leaf Gardens.
Brad McLaughlin: What was it like to wrestle against Hulk Hogan in the prime of his career?
Harley Race: At the prime of his career, was virtually the prime of mine and I had no problem wrestling him at all. Hogan started in the early 70s in Tampa and I was there in 1974.
Lex_Reda: How did you like the “King” Harley Race gimmick in the WWF? I believe that was the only time in your career you ever had a gimmick.
Harley Race: Yep, and I hated it. I was always my own man, and I didn’t care for the glitz, I was just Harley Race. Of course, I was the King though.
Dick Hertz: Is it true that you had vision problems stemming from the auto accident you were in?
Harley Race: Never had vision problems, and it’s still fairly decent today. My hip and my right were broken.
JM: What are your memories of the Starrcade ’83 match against Ric Flair?
Harley Race: Gene Kiniski’s clumsiness.
Devin (ProWrestlingDaily.com): Any plans of coming out of retirement like Dusty Rhodes?
Harley Race: I was asked not long ago and I seriously considered it and I haven’t made up my mind yet.
Kevin: What was it like to compete in a WrestleMania? Especially WrestleMania III in front of 93,000 fans?
Harley Race: I suppose you would have to say there was an andrenalin rush, but I’ve been in front of big, huge crowds before. You had the Alice Coopers, a lot of celebrities back there, not a wrestling atmosphere. You had 20-foot plus pythons there too.
Mark Pev : Aside from business aspect of Wrestling I always relished the ‘INTER-FEDERATIONAL’ TITLE VS. TITLE matches such as RACE VS. GRAHAM, RACE VS. BACKLUND. Your thoughts on these ‘EPIC’ confrontations as well wrestling in MADISON SQUARE GARDEN…..
Harley Race: Wrestling in MSG up through that era, it was the only chance to get to be at the Gardens was to wrestle Backlund or Graham. Both those matches I thought were excellent. My first time in MSG to a sellout wasn’t bad either. Later I wrestled Hogan in the Gardens and that was sold out also.
Corey Erdman: Which wrestlers in the industry today, do you think best resemble you?
Harley Race: Minus the vulgarity, a Stone Cold or somebody that still wrestles.
Dan: What do you think of Vince McMahon? If you could use one word to describe him what would it be?
Harley Race: Help.
Terry Wall: What was it like to travel and work with Big Van Vader while you were managing him in WCW & what is your opinion on him?
Harley Race: Vader, personally is a nice guy. Travelling with him wass absolutely horrible. Vader basically is a big baby.
Lex_Reda: Why did you participate in the Secret’s of Pro Wrestling show on NBC?
Harley Race: I was brought out there with the understanding that we were doing something to help wrestling not to hurt it. After getting there, of course I wanted to get my money that I was guaranteed to get out there. Even if you take a look at what I actually did in the show, I did very little as far as hurting wrestling is concerned. I think today what Vince, The Rock and some of them say about wrestling has done a lot to expose wrestling more than anything in my life. I’m not proud of my participation in it.
JM: What are your memories of working in the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis for promoter SAM MUCHNICK?
Harley Race: The Kiel wound up being and was for many years before me, and to say I was a part of the Kiel in era means a lot to me. Sam was a guy who again, kind of like Vince, if he gives you his word he will keep it. Problem with that is getting the word.
Jeff Docherty: Mr. Race, it is indeed an honor and a pleasure to be allowed to ask such a legend a question. I just wanted to know what your thoughts are on the time you spent in Emile Dupree’s Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling in the Maritimes after your long and successful career in the major feds? How was your working relationship with Emile Dupree?
Harley Race: Truthfully, the week I enjoyed up there was very enjoyable. I meat a lot of great people and ate a lot of lobster. If I had the opportunity to go back, I’d go back.
Drago Schmidt: Who do you the think are the most under-rated and most over rated wrestlers ever?
Harley Race: If we’re talking wrestling, overrated Hogan, underrated that would be hard to pick. There are several that are underrated.
MGTHUNDER: Your thoughts on unions in professional wrestling?
Harley Race: That’s been tried over the years several times. The people that will make sure that it will never happen is the wrestlers themselves. The average wrestler on top is too greedy and that’s where he wants to stay.
Devin (ProWrestlingDaily.com): Harley, what are your best memories of wrestling in Canada?
Harley Race: I loved Canada. I’ve never had a bad experience in Canada, whether it be from Emile in the East and his family there in New Brunswick or Tunney in Toronto or the Harts and Kiniski on the west coast. All over Canada I had a great time. Except when you go to Prince Albert in the dead of winter.
Abe: What do you think the future holds for WCW? Do you see them getting their act together with new owners? Or simply folding? What are your opinions of their current product?
Harley Race: Well the product had started to improve a little bit, and they were getting away from the vulgarity and stuff like that a little bit. I guess it just depends now on who bought it, in fact if it’s even been sold. You hear so many things on it, you wonder which one to believe.
Geoff : Do todays wrestlers have an easier time of it in the ring or do they work just as hard and take as many bumps and bruises as in your day ?
Harley Race: Some of the lighter, younger kids are really abusing their bodies with the high flying that they are doing, but basically the way it is right now, the way I was in my prime, I’d still be there into my 70s. Longest match now is 7, 8 minutes. That’s not the guys fault, but if you don’t have to do it, why do it.
Markus Templer, Pickering: Do you think that the tastefulness or lack thereof has hurt your sport?
Harley Race: I think it will eventually, yes.
Herb: I always heard the Original Sheik was legitimately crazy. Can you share any stories about him?
Harley Race: The Original Sheik, let me tell a quick story about him. I started my career driving Happy Humphrey who weighed 785 pounds. I met the Sheik in Cleveland, Ohio with Humphrey. I got married in Cleveland, Ohio. I wrestled the Sheik on TV in Cleveland. My wife thought it was the worst thing that she ever witnessed. Left Cleveland and came home. My wife was killed in a automobile accident. I was 17 at the time. The Sheik who hadn’t known me until that date found out about this and for a year thereafter, once a month, I had a cheque from the Sheik. After I made it back into wrestling and back to work, the man would never take one nickel of it back. So in my opinion, the Original Sheik was as nice as a person as I ever met.
Four Horseman Cujo: Harley – with the “new breed” of wrestlers writing books, as well as some of the older stars- such as Motorcycle Rickey, Masked Ruble, and Grab Cheese Monkey, are you planning on putting a book together?
Harley Race: I have had that in mind for a number of years. I had a guy set to write it, and he was diagnosed with cancer and has since died. I just need the right person to write it.
Rich Ricketts: What was your worst in ring injury?
Harley Race: Oh, it would either be breaking my ankle or tearing my pinky finger off my left hand, tearing it virtually off.
Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org): In your WWF Tenure did you ever have the chance to face Bret Hart in a singles match (who won??) If not how was wrestling a young Bret hart back in the NWA? I heard those were some good matches!
Harley Race: A young Bret Hart was as good as they got. In the WWF, I never wrestled Bret because in the time I was there, he was in a tag team with Neidhart, exclusively a tag team and no singles. To me Bret was a wrestler’s wrestler. He came by that naturally because of his father. I have nothing but admiration for the whole Hart family.
JM: In 1983, it’s well known that Fritz Von Erich was trying to convince the NWA board to have you drop the title to David Von Erich instead of Flair. In your view, why was Mid-Atlantic promoter Jim Crockett Jr. successful in convincing the NWA to have you drop the belt to Ric instead and make him the perennial NWA World Champ?
Harley Race: I guess the Vince scene, he’d just come in the scene nationwide, Crockett at that time was starting to align himself with Ted Turner and WTBS.
John L.: What is your favorite Bulldog Bob Brown memory?
Harley Race: I don’t know if there is a favourite. Bulldog was just Bulldog. Half time you loved him, half the time you hated him.
“hitman” Mike: If you have the option of facing anyone on the current WWF roster, who would it be and why?
Harley Race: Well if I was physically able to do, I would love to wrestle The Rock, Stone Cold, either one of them.
Vaughn_Havelock: Hello Harley, I loved the Mid Atlantic area (I grew up watching it). What are some of your favorite stories about that era and all the great talent (i.e. Piper, Koloff, Valiant, Steamboat, etc)?
Harley Race: Probably some of my favourite stories there, I’d come out of there quite a bit. The only place more than that was FLorida. I arrived there once and there was a big long limousine there to pick me up, it was Ric Flair’s. When I walked out, the driver told me to get in. The driver got in the back and I droved him to the arena. I never was a limo man like Flair or Dusty. You turn on the TV now, and all you see is limos.
Christopher: Are you a big ribber? And if you are, what was your best rib?
Harley Race: I was never a big ribber, but I was real big on retaliating to ribs. In Minneapolis in the middle ’60s, John Valentine, The Alaskan was there. Alaskan used to use an atomiser all the time in the ring. He grabbed it to spray his throat and Valentine had filled it with lighter fluid as he had several years before. Now all this was a joke. Alaskan went down on the floor, moaning and groaning. He went back to the dressing room and came back with a pistol in his hand. Exactly what had happened years ago, but Valentine had actually do it. This time, he shot him with blanks and Valentine ended up in the shower dying. Everyone in the room though he shot him because they’d all heard the stories before. At that point I didn’t know if it was real or not. But I did have a real gun in my bag with real bullets, and I pulled it out. The Alaskan said that he couldn’t afford to have any witnesses and turned around to shoot everybody. He pointed the gun towards me, and I pointed mine with live ammo — and he knew it. So the joke got reversed on him and told Valentine to get up and stop playing dead because he was about to get shot. That’s basically how it ended, or I wouldn’t be here talking to you guys.
Conner: Have you ever needed to “shoot” on some wrestler trying to “take advantage of you”?
Harley Race: I’ve had to stop 2 or 3 different things. Probably one of the funnier ones was in Mexico. There was the Star Wars movie and they had that C3PO, and a guy in Mexico wrestling like him. We were supposed to go an hour at 10,000 foot altitude. He tried a couple of things and I told the referee to get his act together and get on with this. And he did, and the guy said that he would pretty well do what he wanted to do. So they ended up carrying out the yellow robot on a gurney.
Jim Castle: Do you agree wrestling has never been the same since the loss of the NWA?
Harley Race: Well, yes.
WuaSup: What do you thinks about the current Canadian wrestlers out there wrestling? Who do like the most?
Harley Race: Benoit. He is a wrestler. That’s not to say that the other kids are not any good, that’s for sure. It’s my opinion that he’s the best of them
Timmy 2000: Was WrestleMania III a highlight when you won that throne match with JYD?
Harley Race: Again, when you’re in front of that many people and that many people back stage, you can’t say that’s not a highlight. I wrestled JYD back when he was Sylvester Ritter.
Moderator: What was it like wrestling in Japan? What are your memories of facing guys like Baba and Tsuruta?
Harley Race: Both of them are dead now. Baba in my opinion had a fantastic organization. When he came to Texas to ask me to come to his All Japan organization in 1969, I made a commitment to him that I honoured until his death.
Captain: Did you know Sweet Daddy Siki or Killer Kowalski? Any stories?
Harley Race: Kowalski, when he came to Minneapolis in the mid-60s, he was up there as a heel, and he was wrestling Verne and Crusher, just like me and Henning were. Siki, I wrestled him two or three different times. One had to have been Toronto.
Moderator: What do you think was a worse gimmick – the Castle of Fear or being “The King”?
Harley Race: Flip of the coin.
4nSpecialist: What advice can you give to a young guy trying to get in on the wrestling scene?
Harley Race: First off, learn the basics. Create yourself a good foundation. Then from there, try to position yourself to where you can be the luckiest I guess. The foundation can start right here at the Harley Race Academy.
Andrew Vaccaro: What was it like wrestling in Australia in the 60s and 70s? Do you have any fond memories of wrestling in my hometown of Melbourne? And lastly, what did you think of many of Australia’s wrestlers, and who did you think was the best of them?
Harley Race: I think that the best of them in the length of time that I was there was Ron Miller. The Kangaroos that came out of the in the 50s were excellent wrestlers. I liked Australia a lot. To tell you the truth, there aren’t many places that I’ve been that I haven’t enjoyed. At the point in the time I was in and out of there a lot, it was just a little slower than the United States. I really liked being there. You probably hear the same things about Canada. It’s just America 30 years back. I really enjoyed it.
Mike P: Mr. Race – You have been in some unforgettable bouts in your day. What matches in particular stands out for you? Thanks in advance for your response and for the memories.
Harley Race: I’d have to be lying to myself if I didn’t say March 1973 in Kansas City against Dory Funk Jr.
BongerDaddy: What do you think of the current insurgence of wrestlers with exceptional amateur credentials?
Harley Race: I think it’s good. I think back during our era, we tried to recruit as many as we could recruit. I guess now they’re a lot smarter going there because they’re getting paid more.
Scott Hudson: What do you think of hardcore matches?
Harley Race: A joke.
Laurie Galbraith: Harley, please tell us about the famous Barbeques at your house and any good barbeque stories.
Harley Race: I enjoyed having the guys. Still today when I bring guys here, we’ve got a big, huge BBQ. I’ve had Meng, Barbarian, Harris twins, Dustin Rhodes, I’ve had a lot of them down here. I still cook.
4nSpecialist: What’s your take on young kids and this “Backyard” wrestling phenomenon? Is it healthy for the sport?
Harley Race: I absolutely hate it. Take a look at Florida and the trial that just ended. Was that kid doing that to that girl, or another little kid with a damn trampoline, or diving off houses. It’s just absolute stupidity.
Percival A Friend: Just a quick note to say hello and keep in touch….seen Orton Sr. and Billy Howard in Vegas at the CAC
Harley Race: Hello Percival and to everyone that I’ve ever met in wrestling, and special thanks to all the fans, because without them, none of us would be doing this.
Moderator: We’ll take two more questions.
Tiiu_in_Angus: Hello Harley. You must have worked with Ric Flair a thousand times. Did you ever get tired of working with Flair?
Harley Race: You never get tired of excellence. He and I had some classic, classic matches.
Abe: If you could do it all over again, would you? What would you do different?
Harley Race: I’d probably save a little more money, take a few less bumps. But other than that, not one iota I would change.
Moderator: That’s it. We want to thank Mr. Race for taking the time to participate in this chat. The last word goes to him.
Harley Race: A heartfelt thanks to anyone reading this. What I say comes from the heart. I think of myself as one of the luckiest persons on Earth for getting to do what they love to do for the entire length of their lifetime.