'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan is coming to beat up people
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is on the bill for Friday's Big Time Wrestling show at The Maryland Theatre. Duggan said he likes the opportunity to meet fans and compete with up-and-coming wrestlers. When he wrestles, Duggan's favorite props are an American flag and a two-by-four. (Submitted photo / March 28, 2013)
The 59-year-old lives in Lugford, S.C., with his wife of 28 years, Debra. They have two teenage daughters.
“We have our home. I’m active in my community. I live pretty much a normal life,” Duggan said during a telephone interview from his home.
But that all changes when professional wrestler Duggan hits the ring as “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, waving an American flag and brandishing a two-by-four, shouting, “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”
Duggan will appear Friday, March 29, at The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., in downtown Hagerstown as part of Big Time Wrestling. The event begins with a meet and greet at 6 p.m., bell time is 8:30. Also on the bill for the evening are Ric Flair, Kevin Nash and others.
“I’m gonna do what ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan does best. Beat people up,” the mild-mannered family man bellowed with a laugh.
The former WWE star said he enjoys making appearances and competing around the country.
“These are family-friendly shows,” he said. “There’s no obscene gestures, no foul language.”
Not only does Duggan get to continue a career he began in 1979, after a knee injury forced his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons to end, he also gets the chance to support aspiring grapplers, as well.
“These (companies) are like farm teams that bring young guys ... the future stars, along with some old-timers, like me,” he said with a chuckle.
Duggan also enjoys meeting the fans and signing autographs before the shows, another contrast to performances in larger arenas, where security is extremely tight, he said.
In addition to beating formidable opponents on the mat, Duggan also beat cancer, following a diagnosis in 1998.
“I kicked kidney cancer. Early detection saved my life,” he said.
Since then he has participated in charity endeavors including golf tournaments to support the American Cancer Society and Variety, The Children’s Charity. Earlier this month, he participated in the organization’s Iowa telethon, which raised more than $3.6 million, he said.
Professional wrestling, Duggan said, remains wildly popular across the globe, between house shows and arena events.
“There are 1,500 NFL signed players this year, and only 123 signed wrestlers. It’s entertainment. It’s a TV show. It’s very competitive,” he said. “It’s amazing the appeal (wrestling) has around the world.”
One of his fondest memories of 30 years of professional wrestling, Duggan said, was when he faced the legendary Andre the Giant in Madison Square Garden.
“I grew up in (upstate) New York. When I was a kid, my dad would take me to New York City,” he said.
So, years later when he took on the legendary wrestler in the city’s centerpiece, it was an experience like no other.
“I was in my prime then. I was about 300 pounds. Andre was probably 500. He was very powerful. It was obviously a thrill. Sellin’ out the Garden is sellin’ out the Garden,” Duggan said.
Another standout moment, he said, was when he was inducted into the WWE hall of fame in 2011.
“Everyone wants to be in the hall of fame. Most of the guys who say they don’t care about it aren’t in the hall of fame,” he said.
In recent years, Duggan participated in “WWE Legends House,” a reality TV show similar to “Big Brother,” where several professional wrestlers were sequestered without TV, cell phones or computers.
The show has not aired yet, but Duggan said it was a good time. “It worked out or else we’d all kill each other,” he quipped.
Duggan keeps a steady presence on Facebook and Twitter, but getting up to speed on technology wasn’t easy for him.
“My daughter got me a smart phone for Christmas. I told her to get me the same one she has so she could teach me everything about it,” he said.
She must have done a good job. Duggan has more than 1,100 Facebook fans and 9,400 Twitter followers.
Although he never achieved the titles of world champion or tag-team champion during his days with the WWE, Duggan said he is proud of his legacy, which appealed to the average guy.
“I’d like to be remembered as the people’s champion,” he said.
In addition, he released a book in 2012, “Hacksaw: The Jim Duggan Story,” by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan with Scott E. Williams. Duggan said he is proud of the book, which came into fruition after he was approached by Triumph Books out of Chicago.
Duggan said he was not pleased with the way professional wrestlers were portrayed in the 2008 movie “The Wrestler,” which starred Mickey Rourke as a down-on-his-luck former wrestler hoping for a comeback.
“I thought the movie painted us in a bad light,” he said, which is another reason why he was excited about getting the chance to tell his story.
“It was a nice surprise (to be asked),” he said. “And it’s done relatively well for a wrestling book.”
As he continues to wrestle in the United States and beyond, Duggan offered aspiring wrestlers a bit of advice.
“Always chase your dreams,” he said. “Just make sure, like with anything else, you have something to fall back on.”
If you go ...
WHAT: Big Time Wrestling featuring Ric Flair, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Kevin Nash, The Patriot Robbie E and more
WHEN: Friday, March 29; meet and greet at 6 p.m., bell time is 8:30
WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown
COST: Tickets cost $25 to $70 plus fees; go to www.mdtheatre.org or call 301-790-3500
MORE: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is online at www.hacksawjimduggan.net, on Facebook at OfficialHacksawJimDuggan and on Twitter at @HacksawJDuggan