“The truth about me is much more than what you think you know.”
The Microsoft Word document cursor blinks incessantly—a black line on a blank white page. A reminder of seconds passing, of nothingness. How to begin interviewing a man whose plush wrestling buddy I slept with as a young boy because I thought it would protect me when my own father wasn’t part of my life? How to interview a man so misunderstood, so diverse, a man whose persona inspired me as a youth and whose continued physical and intellectual intensity continues to inspire me now as an adult?
The Ultimate Warrior is a professional wrestling legend. His victory over Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI on April 1, 1990 is regarded by many as the single greatest moment in the history of professional wrestling. It was the event everyone watched or heard about, and was the first WrestleMania to be held outside of the United States. But the Ultimate Warrior (whose legal name is now “Warrior”) is also a motivational speaker, a political commentator, a devoted husband and father, a philosopher, a personal trainer, and a visual artist with oil paints being his preferred medium.
While browsing the many features on his website (Mind, Body, Soul, Art, and Life Empowerment, among others) you’ll find quotes and in-depth contemporarily-applied interpretations of work by everyone from Aristophanes to Nietzsche, Plutarch to Shakespeare. Included on his list of thirteen must-read books: Homer’s Iliad and the greatest writing handbook of all-time, Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
Earlier this year, Mattel released a 2011 version of the The Ultimate Warrior figurine. And although the Warrior continues to be relevant within the wrestling circle, his personal expansion outside of wrestling is perhaps more interesting. The Oklahoma Sooners football team is using the Warrior’s intensity for motivation; the Warrior has even become a mentor to OU linebacker Tom Wort. Earlier this month, Warrior released this YouTube video in which he quotes the Greek historian Thucydides and goes on to say: “You know, Tom, man is the only animal who can choose to refuse to be what he truly is. Today, on that football field, unleash what you truly are!”
The external—the Warrior’s body—is obvious. The skinny eight-grader has come far since that first day moving weight on the 13-station Universal circuit-training machine. And even though I’m an NSCA-certified trainer and a former MMA fighter, it’s the psychological and emotional developments within Warrior that I want to explore. Those developments are perhaps even more important and certainly just as interesting. Most know the Warrior’s persona, but few know the depth of its origin. Most know the Warrior’s physique, but few know the poet housed within.
Warrior, thank you for taking time out for us here at the GMP. Many of our readers will know of you from the wrestling days but not know about the man you are. Sadly, many people still think you’re dead. Can you fill us in on what you’ve been up to in the past ten years or so?
No, thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed in this serious, legitimate way. Most solicitations for interviews I get include an agenda to stay stuck in the past. I don’t mind engaging discussion of my sports entertainment career. It was certainly a wonderful life experience and taught me a lot of powerful life lessons. But the here-and-now of my life is what is of most importance to me, and I think it is an even more interesting story than the one of my days in the business.
Yes, being dead is one of the many urban legends, falsehoods, mischaracterizations, what have you, about me. Nothing much I can do if people want to remain ignorant. I’ve had an Internet presence since ‘96-’97 so it has been easy for a long time to find out the truth. Of course my former employers have worked hard and spent a great deal of time and money over the years to fabricate and spread lies, all of which have helped to keep rumors and other nonsense alive.
The quick answer to what I have been doing is that I have been doing a lot of living … GREAT living. I’m alive which seems to be an achievement all its own when you consider most of the guys I worked with are now dead, prematurely of course.
On a practical level, I’ve stayed creative and productive as an artist. When I look back on my career creating and performing The Ultimate Warrior, in what was indeed sports entertainment, I see what I did as performance art. There are many things I loved about my time in the business and all its challenges but the engagement of creativity was certainly a vital aspect to my success, so I have continued to aspire through other forms of creativity. For me, this was natural, not something others should be surprised by.
I’ve built a career as a fine art artist, and it has been very good to me and my family. I own the Intellectual Property rights, the trademarks, to The Ultimate Warrior, and I manage the licensing of that, which, different than so many laughed about years ago when I was fighting costly legal battles, has also been very good to me and my family. Ultimate Warrior in action figures and video games is still today a more popular selling attraction than even most of today’s superstars.
The best thing I have gone to do is settle down and get married to an incredible woman and start a family, have kids, raise kids. It’s the greatest thing I’ll ever do—raise my kids and be responsible for instilling in them a philosophy of life. It brings me greater enjoyment and satisfaction than anything else I have ever done.
Other than these things, I work at paying serious attention to my life and think quite a bit about what it all means to have this unique existence. I think it’s healthy and important to be somewhat philosophical about it all. You know that your life does mean something more important than doing the routine and mundane to just get by day by day. I’ve always been into learning new things, engaging my mind, setting new goals—so I’ve gone on and continued that. When I think about it, it is these very things that have kept me alive and enthusiastic. I’m not the young kid I was years ago, but I am still very young at heart and still love to push my body with intense exercise. Very much into health and fitness, clean eating.
The naiveté I held years ago has evolved into a great deal of wisdom and I am proud of that. I’m glad things turned out for me the way they did. I’m a better man for it. More capable of handing-down some important life lessons for my own children—or other young people that are still inspired by my intense, bold, and no-BS attitude. I guess the best thing I can say is I OWN my life, all of it. I know my choices and ideas matter and I don’t waste them on anything or anybody that do not deserve their worth. I don’t know any other person who can say that with the same confidence I do.
In a recent post under the “Soul” category of your website, you wrote about the problems of males having “emasculated cultural role models” and how this limits men’s ability to handle inner conflicts. Can you talk more about male emasculation? How do you believe it happened? What are some positives and negatives you see in regards to the changing nature of men?
Well, it’s really simple. Males today just don’t have the balls or guts they used to have in previous generations. I don’t need to be a psychologist to see this or know it. There’s too much whining and complaining going on by people today, especially males. Too little self-discipline and accountability. For Christsakes, today’s population would simply crumble if they had to contend with similar challenges as our ancestors faced. And I for one am not inspired by it.
I mean, what is it young guys say today, Man Up? Since when did we have tell a male to Man Up? It’s a joke. There was a time when men did not need cheerleading to just be what they were created to be. Guys were raised by others, male and female, to understand that thinking and acting like a man was a responsibility that came along with life. No one used to question or doubt if a male should be a man or demand he tone down his masculinity to get in touch with his feminine side.
I’m inspired by those traditional times and people, not today’s metrosexual crowd. And, sorry, but the popularity of MMA is in no real way an indicator that manliness is on the upswing. Most modern males are confused about how to think and act like a real man. And it’s not like they get any proper guidance from any of today’s popular role models or men’s magazines and that sort of thing. Today’s modern comforts and conveniences make for a lot of the weaknesses and shortcomings we suffer. We are basically prosperous in most ways. Legitimate poverty does not exist in this country as it was once thought of. The extreme alternative of either doing what you had to do to stay alive or cease to exist does not exist anymore. This was a huge motivator for a male to keep a big balls attitude toward life. It toughened him up. There was no time to waste being confused. Guys got to work and did whatever they had to, without feelings and emotions getting in the way. Today, you can refuse to do the work and someone—the producers and workers who pay the taxes—will keep your deadbeat ass alive. Most young people think last about work and first about entitlement.
I think serious emasculation started four to five generations ago when political correctness and moral relativity came into fashion and, now, have become the poisons of greatest danger spread through and through our culture. Somewhere about the same time, the truth became offensive to people and reality became something people tried to get around rather than dealing with it head-on. From that point, what was black and white became all shades of grey, including our natures as men and women, male and female. And now it is not acceptable to take too much pride in being male. However, a male cannot conduct his life and its challenges effectively being anything but what he is created to be. He cannot compromise what nature intended him to be. It doesn’t work. Fails every time. And the truth is most females want a man who will be a man and be strong in his defense that he is. It will be interesting to see how things play out here in the next couple of generations. I certainly don’t see anything positive about the changing nature of males as we are experiencing it today.