“The gargantuan wrestler [600 pounds] was one of the foremost drawing cards during the industry’s “Golden Age” of the 1950s and 1960s while sporting his trademark white T-shirt, blue overalls, and horseshoe necklace. He is recognized as being among the chief pioneers for the sport’s super-heavyweight attractions.”
Not one haystack, mind you. That would be too small, too meager. A 600-pound-man is plural. More than one. He’s a myriad, a cornucopia, and a plethora.
Perhaps as a boy…perhaps then he was a singular Haystack. But those days are over. He overcame anorexia, defeated the demons of bulimia. Now he’s a king, high atop the Mountains of Girth.
Other wrestlers had interesting names: King Kong Bundy, The Iron Sheik, etc. And those were nice…they took us to different world. But at the end of the day, they were runners-up at the Nomenclature Awards. For the greatest wrestling moniker belonged to one man, and one man alone.
The Ultimate Warrior passed away several years ago. However, his word and ideas live on. He was Jim Helwig…a wrestling hero to children, but an inspiration to adults. He taught us the importance of ruthless aggression. He encouraged us to kick ass, live our dreams, and to demand more from life.
If you grew up in the 1980s, you’ll remember his character on Saturday morning wrestling: the hairy back, the green tongue, the bald head. And who could forget his fondness for eating turnbuckles? He was a one-of-a kind “character,” in the truest sense of the word.
I had a chance to speak with Mr. Steele several times when I was working for a Pro Wrestling magazine. He was the opposite of his character. In real life, he had a Master’s Degree, was a devout Christian, and was a loving husband and father. He was far from the marauding beast he played on television.
George (whose real name was Jim Myers) started in Professional Wrestling back in the early 70s. It was a way to supplement his meager income as a high school teacher. He quickly moved up the ranks, eventually becoming a fixture of the business. He wrestled all the top stars: Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, etc. He rose in popularity to the point where, eventually, Hollywood came knocking. George had a significant part in the movie Ed Wood, where he played an actor in one of Wood’s films.
George created his character on the road, adapting it to the cheers and boos of the crowd. In that way, his character was different than today’s wrestling performers – many of whom have gimmicks created for them by the WWE production department. George’s gimmick was unique, and it was the byproduct of his brilliant mind for effective performance art. He was equivalent to a great circus performer from a forgotten era.
George Steele was a fantastic entertainer. But more importantly, he was a virtuous and honorable man.