OX BAKER "Strong as an Ox"

Interview by Sir Lawrence Alegdrop

(Extra special thanks to "Chitown" Rich Tito, who helped set this interview up!)

One of the biggest,strongest and meanest looking wrestlers to ever grace a wrestling ring is big Ox Baker. He was a very large man at well over 6 feet, was bald on his head but had bushy fu-Manchu mustache with very bushy eyebrows. His signature look was certainly one of the most unique, even by professional wrestling standards, which was always was and is riddled with people harboring unique signature looks. Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of conducting a telephone interview with the big Ox, and he shared some interesting stories about his career in professional wrestling, acting, and how he is now an author of a cook book. His personality is as unique as his signature look. So sit back and enjoy the stories from the big Ox.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.Let me start by asking how you got your start in professional wrestling?

Ox Baker: Bob Luce gave me my start in Chicago.He was looking for a new mean-looking tough guy and there were ten guys who tried out for the part.When he heard me interview, he sent the other nine guys home. The toughest guys always went to Chicago.We always drew big money there against (Verne) Gagne and Bockwinkel.People in Chicago went to the wrestling matches to see people get their teeth kicked in. Now I wasn’t the greatest wrestler, but I was definitely the greatest talker.

WC: I’ve always loved your look and thought you were the meanest looking wrestler of all time. I have to ask, how did you come up with that signature look?

Ox: I was wrestling in Tulsa, OK and an Australian wrestler named Jonathan Boyd always had lots of ideas (Boyd once wrestled with The Sheepherders/Bushwackers alternating with Luke Williams and Butch Miller – ed.).He once said, ‘You have big eyebrows. You should brush them up and grow a fu-Manchu.” So I did and I had to use wax to get my eyebrows to point up like that at first.Eventually, they just grew like that naturally.So I did this and then in my interviews I used to say, ‘I like to hurt people!’

WC: The title of The Sheik’s movie.You worked for him for a time, didn’t you?

Ox: Yes, I worked for The real Sheik and he heard me say it hundreds of times.But he never acknowledged that I created that.I always loved doing the interviews. I had a loud voice anyway. If I’d yell, “Sit down and Shut Up!” people would do it.

WC: What do you think of today’s product?

Ox: In a way, I wish I was in it, but in a way I don’t because in my day people believed in me. They believed in what I did. I mean in a real fight if someone is hit with a punch five times, they’d fall. If you don’t, that’s not believable. When I train wrestlers, I tell them never hit someone 25 times because you can’t believe it.

WC: What about your heart punch?

Ox: Yeah, my finisher was the heart punch, and I always hit the person just once and that was it. One time I hit Ernie Ladd with the heart punch two times and it caused a riot and I had my head busted open.

WC: Did you ever wrestle Bruno Sammartino?

Ox: I wrestled him in New York in May one time and was proud.We wrestled right after Stan Hansen broke his neck and he (Bruno) said “Don’t touch my shoulder.”I led on that and we went out there and I never touched him in the whole match.I fought with the ref and everyone else, but I never touched Bruno one time in that match.

WC: How did it end?

Ox: Eventually, I was counted out, so I beat up the referee.

WC: You did a number of movies as well didn’t you? How did that come about?

Ox: I was in eleven movies all together.Escape from New York was the most famous.Me and Bruiser Brody both tried out for that part and they chose Brody.I was wrestling in St. Louis when (former wrestler Edouard) Carpentier called and told me he (Brody) was stabbed last night.So they called me and took me instead. Because of that, I never watched that movie.

WC: What about some of the others? Weren’t you in a movie with Jackie Chan?

Ox: Yes, I was in Big Brawl with Jackie Chan.(Recently released on DVD under the title "The Brawl in Battle Creek. It also featured wrestlers H.B. Haggerty and Tor Kamata-->
WC: Some time ago I interviewed Sir Oliver Humperdink for this very column and he actually told me a story about you.

Ox: Oh yeah, what did he say?

WC: He told me that when you were in Florida you’d paint your toenails to show your love for your wife.

Ox: Oh yeah, my first wife gave me toenail polish. It was quite a thing in the dressing room.I always liked Oliver.He managed The Hollywood Blondes, Jerry Brown and Buddy Roberts, you know, but whenever his team was doing great it was them not him, but when they weren’t doing great,they would say it was Oliver.He had open heart surgery a few years ago, you know.

WC: No, I didn’t realize that. He seemed to be doing pretty well when I talked to him. Who do you feel were some of the greatest managers of all time?

Ox: Paul Bearer was great. He was up to 450 pounds at one point and Vince wanted him back.So Bearer knocked off 250 pounds and Vince picked up the bill for him (Bearer had gastric bypass surgery to lose the weight – Sir Lawrence). The Grand Wizard was probably the greatest manager.His career lasted 30 years.

WC: Why do you feel he was the greatest?

Ox: What he did was he never let anyone touch him. It was a rule that no one could touch the Wiz. He wanted to be unique in that and he had flamboyance. Because of that people, believed in him. Everywhere he went, he was successful.

WC: You wanted to talk about the book you wrote.

Ox: Yes, I’m very excited about it. My wife of 15 years made me write it. I used to make about $30 a night, and so did the other wrestlers, you know. So we would charge 10 cents or 15 cents and we’d throw it in and make stew or chili or something like this. So in this way it’s a cook book with all sorts of recipes and things.But there are also stories in it. Like one night Andre the Giant wanted salmon patties and he bought three pounds of salmon to put in this thing. And my wife didn’t even like these guys. She’d make me better stuff than for the wrestlers. So anyway, she had me write down all these stories and when I got up to 50 she put them in a book. And it’s also a tribute because all of the guys in it are dead: Fritz Von Erich, Andre, Brody, and Gordon Solie, the greatest announcer than ever lived. I have a story about Bobo Brazil in there. He used to say, “If I liked you, I’d give you a shot of Crown Royal before the show.”

WC: So what are you doing these days?

Ox: I got together another 60 guys I could write about so now I’m writing my second book. At the Cauliflower Alley Club, Bob Orton, Sr. invited me to stay with him for a week, and he’d buy my meals. Well, last summer he had a heart attack and died, so I guess I can write about him now.I really wanted to say I lasted 40 years in this business.At 70 yearsold I won a battle royal. There I remembered some people who came to see us way back.You know, in all the years I never knocked over one fan or hit one fan.

And they used to throw things at me and yell at me and do everything else.The idea is, I made a very good living and got to see the whole world and my way was always paid.I wanted to give them (the fans) 150%. I wanted to be the one you would remember.Other wrestlers would run the fans down and say things like “You’ll shine my shoes!”I wouldn’t do that and I got them (the fans) madder than anyone else.

WC: Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Ox: Yes, you can’t kill wrestling. Like the Trump vs. Vince hair cut match. If you make sure there’s an issue,it will keep on drawing people.This is the only sport where you can yell and scream and not get thrown out and that’s why I love it.

WC: Thank you for your time.

Note from Dr. Mality: I had the great pleasure to meet Ox Baker in the flesh at Ethyl's Bar in Chicago in late March and I can confirm that he is one of the most colorful characters I've ever met. Still big and intimidating, Ox is a born showman and hustler. He was working his merchandise table like a pro from the get-go and word has it that he even had it going at O'hare Airport before he headed back east. During this little get-together, put together by Dr. Mality's good friend Chitown Rich Tito, Ox sang, danced, told some great stories, flirted with some pretty girls and ate. In fact, he ate like...what else...an ox.

Beneath the scary exterior lurks a genuine "people" person who loves to hang out and meet folks. I've heard it said that wrestling heels are some of the nicest guys you could meet. Well, Ox proves that to be true, at least in his case!