Having to walk away from wrestling was one the most difficult decisions Stan Hansen ever had to make.
A grizzled veteran who made his mark in the rings of All Japan Pro Wrestling, Hansen called it quits in 2000 after 27 years in the business and over 130 tours of Japan.
Years of grueling punishment took its toll on the Texan. He was forced to announce his retirement last November when a chronic case of lumbago, a painful affliction that affects the lower back, forced him out of the business he loved dearly.
Looking back, Hansen doesn’t regret his decision at all. Nor does he miss wrestling.
“You know what, I don’t miss wrestling,” Hansen recently admitted to SLAM! Wrestling. “I miss going to Japan. I wrestled 27 years and I’ve got some good memories.”
“I retired and I haven’t looked back. I wrestled so long it was time, physically for me to (retire)… I think I got out when God was telling me to get out. I feel blessed that I had a great career.”
“I miss Japan,” continued Hansen “but physically I was to the point where I couldn’t… I always said if I couldn’t compete on my standards then I would stop. It got to that point and I’ve never looked back.”
While Hansen admires wrestlers his age who are still wrestling, he says his days of competing in the ring are completely over.
“Terry Funk just loves to perform but to keep doing it, I have no urge to go back and wrestle. I want to remember the way I was, not as I’ve become.”
“I respect a lot of those guys that continue to go on. That’s not me, and I’d rather spend time with my family. I did my hard work.”
These days, Hansen is content to stick around the house and bond with his two sons. Since retiring he’s had both knees replaced and had back surgery. He also says that he vaguely keeps up with wrestling in the United States: “Now there’s just one group, ratings are down… competition is what keeps things going. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same.”
Considered a cultural icon in Japan, Hansen is revered like a god. A Japanese translation of his best-selling autobiography sold out quickly in Japan last year, forcing the publisher to schedule a second printing.
Even though he has an English translation of the autobiography laying around, Hansen says he never really thought about publishing an English version.
“I hadn’t thought about it. I guess I could. I’m not much for self-promotion. They edited down quite a bit so there’s a lot of stuff that wasn’t really published.”
“In the back of my mind I guess I thought there wasn’t much demand or interest in that so I haven’t really thought about it. I got a good little story to tell but there’s been a lot of wrestling books out now. People are interested in books but whether they’re interested in Stan Hansen who was basically a Japanese wrestler, not an American wrestler…. I don’t know.”
He hopes to return to Japan in October and “help out All Japan” and get “involved a bit in their business”.
Once in a while he receives correspondence from fans from all over the world who write to the former four-time Triple Crown Heavyweight champion to thank him for the memories and let him know how special they think he is.
Hansen takes all the praise in stride.
“I never really took myself too seriously. It’s nice to hear that people remember me.”