Bill DeMott’s trophy case is filling up, with 2012 Men’s Wrestling Award from the Cauliflower Alley Club, and, as of July 2023, the Lou Thesz Award from the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, which is a part of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Dan Gable Museum.

Yet there is little doubt he’d forgo all the accolades to go back in time and see his late daughter, Keri Anne DeMott, again.

His speech on Saturday, July 22, at the Five Sullivans Convention Center in Waterloo, Iowa, after accepting the Thesz Award, was in turn heartbreaking, humorous (he was, after all, Hugh Morrus and General Rection) and on point. Following his moment on stage, he returned to the welcoming arms of his family.

Bill DeMott at the Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, July 22, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo by Joyce Paustian

Bill DeMott returns to his family’s table. Photo by Joyce Paustian

Here is a transcript of his speech:

For the record this isn’t a scripted promo.

I’m humbled.

First I’d like to tell you how I got here. I was at a baseball game on a Sunday morning, my son there, playing a game he loves. The phone rings and if you ever get that number on your phone — some of you will know what I mean when you see that 203 and you see that certain name on your phone … I didn’t work for the company, so I don’t know why I was sweating. It Jerry Brisco. Sweating.

At the time Barry, Barry Windham, was just, fell ill for a second, so I thought when Jerry called me it was something to do with that, that I didn’t want to hear. Jerry talked about Barry and caught up with me. He said, “By the way, congratulations. You’re going into the hall of fame.”

Now, anybody who knows Mr. Brisco knows there’s a punch line in there somewhere or something else is going to happen. So I’m sitting in the truck with my wife, Lacey, going, I’m waiting and waiting. He goes, “Hello?”

“Yes, sir.”

He goes, “I said congratulations.”

I believe right then I said I didn’t know what to say Jerry. I still don’t know what to say here. I’m humbled to be here.

Museum Director Jim Miller and Bill DeMott with his Lou Thesz Award at the Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, July 22, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo by Joyce Paustian

Museum Director Jim Miller and Bill DeMott with his Lou Thesz Award. Photo by Joyce Paustian

I felt the only time Lou Thesz’s name would be next to mine is when Stone Cold got a wild hair and he went to Lou Thesz Press to beat me again in the middle of the ring.

But instead I stand here along with the names of Booker T, Brian Blair, Edge, JJ Dillon, Jim Ross, Larry “The Ax” Hennig, my friend JBL, Magnum TA, Rene Goulet, Thunderbolt Patterson, Trish Stratus. [applause] …

I say to you, I don’t think I belong in that group. And I’m humbled.

I’ve had great teachers and coaches. Gerald Brisco, Haku, Jack Lanza, J.R, Les Thatcher, Tony Garea, Steve Keirn, Dusty Rhodes, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, Ricky Steamboat, Dr. Tom Prichard, “Nightmare” Danny Davis, “The Masked Assassin” Jody Hamilton, Jimmy Hart, Arn Anderson, and the list could go on. All these men, for whatever reason, took me under their wing.

The man who got me started, Johnny Rodz, my trainer, “The Unpredictable” Johnny Rodz, highly underrated Johnny Rodz. “The Boston Bad Boy” Tony Rumble, Hercules Ayala, Chicky Starr, Paul Heyman, Kevin Sullivan, Eric Bischoff, Vince McMahon, “Triple H” Paul Levesque, all gave me an opportunity to work on my craft.

In 1998 — for everybody doesn’t know what year that is, you youngsters, Google it.

Quick story I have to do it. I said I wasn’t going to do it, I’m going to do it. We open the Performance Center. A bunch of suits, as I like to call them, investors, board members, came down to Orlando. I’m going to give them the tour.

The great Dusty Rhodes is standing next to me and the gentleman introduced himself and naturally you introduce yourself. He says to Dusty, “Who are you? I’m so and so.”

[Doing the voice] “I’m Dusty Rhodes, you asshole, Google me!”

Dusty went back to his office, shut the door, and two minutes later, Triple H was on the phone with me asking me why I let that happen.

Because he’s Dusty Rhodes. Google him.

In 1988, my dad brought me to a gym. I had a mediocre college experience with football and scholastics, and my dad wasn’t going to let me sit around the house. So he brought to a gym. We sat in the gym and watched a bunch of grown men throwing each other around, hitting ropes and doing all these things. And the man who ran the gym came up to me and said, “Hey, you’re more than welcome to watch. Come back any time. If this isn’t for you, but you’re more than welcome to watch.” Didn’t know who I was, didn’t know anything about me, told me it wasn’t for me.

For those who know me, I was a little upset with that.

On the way home, I told my father, “I’m going back to that son of a gun.”

I paid in full, $3,500 in cash. “I’m gonna prove him wrong.” My father was mad because he thought he was bringing me to a boxing gym. We wound up in a wrestling gym. The pink tights threw him off a little bit.

That man was Johnny Rodz and I learned right then, from Day One, what a coach will do to an athlete or player or a prospect they think has something to offer. They’re going to challenge you.

Johnny Rodz challenged me. I took that challenge.

Thirty-five years later, I’m standing amongst legends, pioneers, men and women that have inspired me my whole career — and then some.

I’ve carried every lesson, heartache, injury, obstacle and opportunity with me and used them as a tool.

I’m just a kid from New Jersey. Someone gave me a shot, I took advantage of it. You young cats out there, someone’s gonna give you a shot. Take advantage of it, whether it brings you to the wrestling fame or brings you success in life, take the shot.

I never dreamed of being famous. I didn’t know you can make money in wrestling, because it took me five years to make back the $3,500 I made in the first place.


Somebody pay me! A six-pack and a Snickers ain’t cutting it. Probably more six-packs than Snickers at the time.

Bill DeMott at the Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, July 22, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo by Joyce Paustian

Bill DeMott speaks. Photo by Joyce Paustian

I’ve made lifelong friendships.

I’ve done things that I never thought I’d be able to do. I have people that I can lean on with one pick of the phone. We don’t have to see each other every day. We don’t have to break bread. We don’t have to write letters. Sometimes it’s an emoji, sometimes it’s a text message.

[Jerry Brisco reminds him of a story]

Or even even in the middle of Main Street Orlando and Wes Brisco and I are yelling at each other in traffic and people are going, “Oh no, there’s gonna be fight.”

I looked to the men and women that came before me and helped me and I say thank you.

All the lessons I learned in this business have helped me survive life.

In 2015, my youngest daughter was taken from me by a drunk driver

I sat home. How to navigate that? tried to help my daughter navigate it, son, my wife.

You start to remember that Wresting Rules apply.

There’s going to be something that stops you, there’s going to be an obstacle, something that slows you down.

And boy, how pissed off would the men be that I rode up and down the road, pumping those lessons, if I just let it overtake my family.

All the lessons of being fortunate enough to work in front of 20,000 people every night, to travel up and down the road with experience and compassion. People leading you.

Wrestling Rules apply.

So now I’ve spoken to over 100,000 students. We work with law enforcement nationwide. And we know if we save one life at a time, and then my daughter makes a difference because Wrestling Rules apply.

You keep going. You get to the show. You make the shot. You put smiles on faces, you put asses in seats. And you get to do it again tomorrow.

I needed my daughter, my son, to understand that.

Everyone else needs to know what you learn in this business, you young cats, it goes beyond wrestling if you’re smart, if you take it in.

Take your lumps. Find those people that put the time into you, because it goes past wrestling. But not for me. Wrestling Rules apply.

Bill DeMott holds a photo of his daughter, Keri Anne, killed on October 10th, 2015, while at a speaking engagement. Photo courtesy The Keri Anne DeMott Foundation

Bill DeMott holds a photo of his daughter, Keri Anne, killed on October 10th, 2015, while at a speaking engagement. Photo courtesy The Keri Anne DeMott Foundation

Wrestling was there in some of the toughest times of my life, wrestling got me through a lot of things.

It made me an Internet darling — there’s the humor — when you put me on the ‘Gram today in time.

I wouldn’t change anything, Les [Thatcher]. In 35 years, I wouldn’t change a thing. You get to say hello to a JBL and Jerry Brisco. First thing I did when I got here, and I saw Thunderbolt Patterson, I said, “My God, what the hell am I still doing this business that I get to walk up the Thunderbolt Patterson and say thank you.” And not talk wrestling, talk life.

When my friend walks through the door, when I get to sit with Joe Malenko and laugh over the silly stuff.

And Bruce [Prichard] comes out of the truck, out of nowhere and I haven’t seen him in long time, and all I’ve got to say is, “Aw, hell.”

I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve been blessed to move forward in a business, past the physicality, just in the ring. I’ve had opportunities given to me and I’ve tried to do my best with them. Whether it benefited me or not, I tried to benefit this business. I’ll continue to do that. I’m forever grateful to stand here and be in a hall of fame.

I just wanted to wrestle. I just want to prove somebody wrong that I could do it. Thirty-five years later, I’m standing here, going, “What the hell?”

My son never saw me wrestle, but he got an idea this weekend of who we are. And he’s never going to give it back to Jerry Brisco again, by the way. I’ve got my nephew sitting here trying to figure out why people come up to Uncle Bill and shake his hand. …

There’s four people I need to thank more than anybody else here here. It’s my wife, my daughter Casey, my daughter Keri, and my son, Billy. They’re the ones who had to tough out my career. They’re the ones who had to live with my decisions. And thank God they stayed with me. And if you ask any one of them, if you talk to them later, what’s the rules of my house? Wrestling Rules apply.

There some great men and women in this room, and some that aren’t … in this room. That’s a good pause, right?

They should have let me talk a lot more when I was on the road. They missed the boat.

I just want to say thank you to the hall. Thank you, Jerry. Thank you for everyone, thank you to the fans. Thank you for sharing with me this weekend, what we did together

I hope when I come back next year that we share more stories. God bless you, be safe. Thank you so much.

TOP PHOTO: Jerry Brisco and Bill DeMott at the Tragos/Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, July 22, 2023, in Waterloo, Iowa. Photo by Joyce Paustian