Ahem. Sorry for the outburst, but today is the 62nd birthday of flag-waving, thumbs-upping, pro wrestling institution, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. Most people think of Duggan as a walking emblem of pro wrestling at its most cheerfully goofy, but Duggan has had a long, varied career and his share up highs and lows. Behind the cockeyed mugging and fanatic America lovin’ is a guy you might not expect.
So, tough guys and girls, here’s a few facts you might not know about the first-ever Royal Rumble winner…
Jim Duggan was a clean-cut member of the chess club in high school.
Jim Duggan played college ball at SMU. Duggan was signed by Atlanta but was released adue to knee injuries. pic.twitter.com/H1LqKcnGPl— Old Wrestling Pics (@OldWrestlingPic) September 5, 2014
James Duggan Jr. was born on January 14, 1954, in Glens Falls, a small town in upstate New York. His dad was the town’s Irish police chief, and his mom was a conservative churchgoer who ran a tight ship. While most wrestling fans know Duggan as a Captain Caveman-esque wildman fueled by pure, unfiltered patriotism, the young Duggan was a square-jawed, conventionally handsome straight-arrow who could have been an extra on Mad Men. Just look at the pictures above. Those glasses! According to Duggan, he was even a member of the chess club in high school, so apparently he isn’t just tough, he’s a smart guy, too.
He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons.
Never give up those gridiron dreams.
Duggan may have looked like a half-thawed side of beef throughout most of his wrestling career, but he was actually a star athlete early in life. Duggan earned varsity letters in football, wrestling, basketball and track in high school and played college football for Southern Methodist University. Eventually, he was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, but his career was quickly sidelined due to numerous knee injuries (Duggan’s busted knees were the reason for his, shall we say, deliberate wrestling style).