The wrestling business is packed with colorful, loud-mouthed weirdos, but Jesse “The Body” Ventura just may be the most colorful, loud-mouthed and wacky of them all. He’s at least a top contender to the title.
Ventura, who turned 64 this week, has reinvented himself as often as he changes bandannas. He’s been a soldier, body guard, singer, wrestler, commentator, actor, successful politician, conspiracy wingnut, and one hell of a snappy dresser. It would be impossible to cover all the unexpected things Jesse Ventura has done throughout his life and career, but we can at least try to scratch the surface. Here’s a few things you might not know about The Body, The Mind, The Mouth, Jesse Ventura…
1) Everybody in Jesse Ventura’s family were war veterans. Jesse Ventura was born James George Janos on July 15, 1951 in Minneapolis. Ventura has been a bit of a loose cannon most of his life, but his family was about as serious and pro-military as they come. During World War II, his father George spent four years battling overseas, and his mother Bernice served as a nurse in Europe and North Africa. Ventura’s older brother Jan was a Navy SEAL who served in Vietnam, and Jesse followed in his footsteps, also going through Navy SEAL training. Basically, you didn’t want to be the paperboy who accidentally threw this family’s paper in the bushes.
A man who knows how to kill you, and look fabulous doing it.
2) Ventura didn’t actually serve as Navy SEAL during the Vietnam war. Ventura would incorporate having served as a Navy SEAL during the Vietnam war into his wrestling character, and leaned on it even more heavily once he got into politics. He had a penchant for barking out absurdities like, “If you haven’t hunted man, you haven’t hunted,” seemingly without irony.
Anyways, Ventura didn’t actually serve as a SEAL in Vietnam. Despite training as a SEAL, Ventura served with an underwater demolition unit. The Underwater Demolition Teams would eventually be rolled into the SEALs in the ’80s, but they were separate and not really a front-line force during the Vietnam war. Not to take anything away from Ventura, serving overseas in any capacity is a brave thing to do, but, by all accounts, he spent more of partying than hunting men for sport while he was in Vietnam.
3) He was part of a biker gang, and narrowly avoided a war with the Hell’s Angels. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Ventura decided to really exercise those freedoms he just fought for by joining California biker gang, the Mongols. According to Ventura, he became a full patch member and even rose to third in command of his chapter.
In the mid-’70s, Ventura would return to his home state of Minnesota and leave the biker life behind, which was good timing because, shortly thereafter, the Mongols entered into open gang warfare with the Hell’s Angels, and dead Mongols started washing up on the shores of Southern California on an alarmingly regular basis.