How did these real estate ventures become such a
problem for you?
(President) Reagan changed the real estate laws
on investment properties…they became so they
weren’t tax deductible. I got caught holding about
35 million dollars worth of property that you
couldn’t deduct anymore.
Reagan did that tax change and…OH BOY---HERE
WE GO! Me and these four idiots I was in with, who I
won’t mention…golly man, we can do this with no
problem! Yeah…WRONG! Wrong decision! (laughs)
So, I wound up in some trouble. You know…I wound
up in federal prison for two years. I’ll address
it just like it is…I’m very candid.
Wasn’t your son Kendall also involved in this?
I even took my son [to prison] with me…and
that was a shame. That was a total disgrace to a
great career of mine, it was a slap in the face to
my fans, and it was a slap in the face to my
parents…that I, with all the great things that
happened to me over the years, had to resort to what
As many of us who follow sports know, a number
of great athletes find it difficult to adjust to
retirement, and facing a much different life in the
‘real world.’ It sounds like you may have had
those same type issues coming out of wrestling?
When you try and make this transition from this
big business of wrestling…to citizen---there’s a
psychological barrier there that most guys don’t
It’s hard to explain…because one day you’re on
top, and the next day you’re in the trash can.
And, I’m going through it right now with a few
guys...I won’t mention their names. But I’m here
to help them…because I’ve experienced it---they
don’t have to fall to the depths that I did.
, I’d just like to straighten up something right
Now…you’re an attorney, and you know how
things go down. I get rapped a lot, saying how I did
this and that, and how I rolled over on this guy.
You’re referring to your federal case?
Right. Now, first of all, there were sixteen
people involved in this indictment. I got two years
(in prison). Kendall got 27 months. Everybody else
got six months. The guy that rats doesn’t get more
time than everybody else…
True…that person typically gets a lesser
sentence for his ‘cooperation.’
Exactly…that’s backwards. There was nothing
said about anybody else, and it’s a knock on me.
But, it’s really the only shot you can throw at
me…and that’s fine. It’s part of me…I
can’t deny it.
all the great things I did, there was a little part
of my life where I did some really stupid things.
About ’83 I get into real estate in Florida, and
the wild and crazy things come out of that.
rib about it now…I tell people now, ‘I came down
on vacation and ended up on probation! I wanted to
come down and become a tycoon, and became a typhoon!
That’s me!’ (laughs)
(laughing) Well, I think it speaks volumes about
you as a person that you look at a difficult time
like that with some humor now.
was your time like in prison?
I was never really in a prison like most people
probably think of. I was in a camp…but that’s
not to say that being in there was easy at all. But,
it was a good mental thing for me.
came out of there, and I slowly got my stuff
together. And at first I’m doing shows…I’m
relegated to kind of like the old Indian selling
cigars for about a year. Out on the street, there,
beating the tom-toms. It used to embarrass me so
With your attitude, you’ve obviously risen
above that stage in your life now.
Oh…very much so. Nobody would let me forget
what happened…they tortured me after that. But,
maybe I deserved it. After a little while, I went to
Bischoff was there. They wanted me so bad…I did
one night on TV. There was so much jealousy. The
only way they could ever take me out,
, was to say, ‘I don’t think he’s the type of
guy we want on TV talking to our children.’
A not so subtle reference to your just completed
Of course. So…that’s the way they finally
finished me up. But that’s okay…that’s cool,
because I’d made the transition from wrestling to
stayed (at WCW) a few years. They put me down in
their training center over there, but that wasn’t
You were a TV guy.
My forte was TV….so that was really my last stop
in the wrestling business.
When you were really out of the wrestling
business for good, did you still keep up with any of
To some degree, yes. And I’ll tell you, one of
the most difficult things for me was with Wahoo
McDaniel at the end of his life.
I know he was very sick with, I believe,
Well, in the later years, it made me so sad that
Wahoo would sit at those flea markets. You
know…beating that tom-tom. I just couldn’t
handle that, you know?
respected him so much…as a great football player
and as the great athlete he was…
So you remained close to him through the years?
I was in touch with him up to the last days of
Yeah. (pauses) I, I couldn’t help him…I
couldn’t reach him. I couldn’t reach out to help
him…because he had that diabetes and that kidney
failure---and he just wouldn’t do what I said.
tried to get him to come down here. I tried to save
him. It was a horrible experience for me. I lost
touch with him for about three weeks…and he died
His daughter called me from Odessa. Wahoo had
wanted his ashes spread over the Brazos River, and
they couldn’t do it. I was pretty sick at the
time, I was having some health problems then, so I
couldn’t go down---and I wound up not doing the
That must have been a tough, tough time for you.
Yes…it was very, very difficult.
Wahoo was a true legend. And as you know, there
was recently a Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends
Convention and Fanfest in Charlotte…
I saw the pictures on your site…they looked
We as fans missed you there. I would be
interested in hearing your thoughts on these types
, I’ll explain some things about these legends
things. This may sound really, really weird. But
I’ve had such a blessed career, and I’m at such
a position in my life and a steady place
now…legends to me are Jesus and Mother Theresa.
anybody tries to give me praise and accolades
now…I just don’t handle it well. That’s
because I just don’t feel that I did anything
extra special for anybody. It may sound weird, but I
don’t. I guess my thought is…focus on people who
really made a difference in this world. There were a
lot of people that did…Martin Luther King…there
were a lot of people that did! (laughs)
I certainly respect your opinion Blackjack. But,
I think you and your colleagues from the
Mid-Atlantic days touched a lot of us more than any
you could ever imagine. And the size of that crowd
in Charlotte at the reunion…sometimes seeing is
The fans have been great to me. If sometimes I
seem almost untouchable…it’s not because I’m
not appreciative. Maybe ‘shy’ is the word I’m
looking for. Maybe I don’t realize what I did back
I’ve come to believe that many of the guys you
ran with back then share those very same feelings.
Please don’t ever think that it’s ego or
pride…or anything else like that with me. I guess
I’m a hard legend’s guy, you know…I don’t
believe that what I did was all that big to do,
guys! But I do appreciate others thinking that it
Well, I don’t think you would be talking to me
at this length if you weren’t appreciative of all
your fans out there! (laughs)
I look at your site, and I see that, and it’s
just phenomenal. And talking with you…I mean, this
could go on into multi hours!
years were such a party to me. I’m one of the few
guys that got to go through life and play
professional football, and also got to wrestle. I
loved it, and the fans were great!
Tell us how the fans entered into your mind as
you worked a match.
We were taught in the old school ways. Dory
Funk, Sr., Joe Blanchard and Verne Gagne…these
guys drilled it into your head that you had better
give a performance. They actually had that as part
of their schools, their training process.
fans paid $3.50-$4.00 to get those wrestling
tickets, and they brought their families. And that
was a lot of money back then. So we were taught that
you better entertain the people, or they won’t
stay with you. That was the tact that we took.
You, and almost everybody back in that time…
Ric Flair took that tact. We tried to entertain
people, whether it was making them happy or making
them sad…or whatever. But when that guy left the
building, he had bought his popcorn and watched some
great wrestling and said, ‘WOW, MAN, THAT WAS
That’s so true, because you all put on a great
show…it didn’t matter if you were in a big
Coliseum or in a little high school gym. The same
effort was put forth for both.
you watch any of the current wrestling product?
Hardly ever see it. Barry will come through
every now and then and flip it over to wrestling.
I’ll check it and watch a few things…but not
Do you see territorial wrestling ever coming
What has to happen, is that Vince McMahon has to
go away. But it’s really ready now, for regional
things to return. But Vince won’t let it. And
you’re not going to find anybody with a couple of
million dollars to come in…because they’ll lose
it at the beginning.
know, the minute you get a TV station…Vince comes
in and buys you out. He takes it right out from
underneath you. What’s a TV station manager going
to do….take the little show you’re trying to do,
or take Vince McMahon?
So, when Vince McMahon is no longer in the
picture, you see a return of the wrestling
You’ll probably live to see it,
, but I won’t. But it will happen again.
Eventually it will happen, because people are ready
for it. But with Vince’s Barbarian-Mongol
attitude…I mean, San Jose, California, he’d fly
a leer jet to California just to take over a TV
station. But that’s Vinny…he’s done it his
way---and he’s worth a lot of money!
If you had to sum up your years wrestling in the
old Mid-Atlantic territory, how would you describe
that time period in your life?
, what we did, we caught a magic moment in time.
There was never another one like it. I mean, after I
left Mid-Atlantic, I toured the world as I’ve
said. I went to work for the Sheik, and then I went
to Arabia and made top dollar. I went to Germany. I
wrestled the wildest man in wrestling…that stupid
Dutchman Jan Wilkens from South Africa---I made a
fortune over there with that guy.
I never again captured the magic that we had there
in Mid-Atlantic with George Scott. Everything just
fell into place…it was just a magical moment in
Could it…can it…ever be repeated?
It’s history. You’ll never get another type
mix of George Scott, Jack Mulligan, Mosca, John
Studd, Timmy Woods, Johnny Weaver…and all the rest
that were in Charlotte then.
Any particularly favorite places or towns in the
Mid-Atlantic area for you?
Wow, there were so many.
Richmond…one of my favorite all time towns.
Norfolk…I loved Norfolk. I loved Virginia.
Actually, I thought about buying property up there
around Culpeper one time…I loved that area. But
at the time, I didn’t really know what I was going
to do, or understand where I was going…so that
didn’t work out. But I loved that country up
loved the Carolinas. If I have any regrets at all in
my life…it would be the decision I made when Dusty
got the job up there in ’84. I had a ticket to
ride, on the kids, you know. I should have taken the
ticket to ride, and didn’t. Because Dusty and I
had all those goofy matches, and we could have had
the kids do all the hard work…and Dusty and I
would take all the glory! (laughs hard)
As fans, I think we all wish that would have
It was just a mistake, and it didn’t happen. I
could have had another five year run, and there’d
be another chapter of Blackjack Mulligan in Carolina
we’d be talking about now.
You’re making tears come to my eyes now,
Tell us what Blackjack Mulligan is up to these
Man, Blackjack Mulligan is fine. I wound up in
the car business. I’ve got this silly little car
business…I’m making as much money as I was when
I was wrestling. (laughs)
How did you end up in the car business? You sell
Yeah…I’m selling cars. After I had hit
bottom, people starting calling me giving me
$1,500-$2,000 to show up on their car lot, their car
dealership. You know, they wanted Blackjack Mulligan
there…and I just did promos, like my old wrestling
started making some money, and people started
showing up! Crowds…hordes of people. I mean, I’d
go to these little places and there would be
hundreds of people standing there. A guy that ran
one of them who was a wrestling fan said, ‘My God,
what do we have here? I knew you could sell cars!’
(laughing) You COULD always cut a great promo!
You just broadened the subject matter!
That same guy said, ‘You need to open a car
lot. Buddy, we’re doing $30,000 an hour while
you’re here.’ I said, ‘I’ll ask for a raise
then!’ (everybody laughs)
just kept on talking. We would do live radio from
the dealerships…and we’d cross over to the rock
stations from the country stations. It was great.
And you eventually took that guy’s advice, and
went into the car business for yourself?
Yes…I just have a small dealership that me and
my wife run. It’s phenomenal. It’s nothing
big…it’s a corner lot. We work at our own speed,
but we do real well.
actually have taken retirement already from the
government…my wife really runs the lot.
How is your health now? You mentioned having
some health issues around the time of Wahoo’s
I’m doing good. I have a few little health
issues, now. I was an avid diver. From the age of 50
to 55, I set the world record on dives…how many
dives a guy can do. (laughs)
was the oldest guy to pass the Dive Master test,
that’s PADI and NAUI…
That’s really something!
Yeah! But I had a little problem one day. Went
down in there, and had a little breath taken away.
Went to my Doctor and he said, ‘Uh oh…we got a
little problem here.’ So, he asked me not to dive
anymore, you know. So…I quit doing that goofy
How old are you now?
I’m 63 now. So the Doctor has kind of settled
me down a little bit. He said, ‘We’re going to
keep you here a long time.’
Well, I guess none of us have a problem with
He said, ‘Let’s don’t be doing anymore
cave diving, okay?’
Did you dive any when you were younger?
Yeah, yeah…I did it many years ago when I was
in the Marines. I was in Guam with the Marines, and
used to dive there. And then I got back into it
pretty recently. For four or five years there, I was
always two hundred feet underground…diving into
every cesspool in the world!
Where are you living now, Blackjack?
I’m right here in Central Florida…right in
between Tampa and Orlando. I did a little thing a
while back with ol’ Eddie Mansfield at Universal
Studios…Universal Studios thought they wanted to
be in wrestling…until they found out what it was
But I bought this property in Florida, and gosh,
I’ve been here about ten years. I’ll probably
never leave here. I’ve sold all my properties in
As we conclude Blackjack, any final thoughts on
your wrestling career…or your life in general?
Life has really been super to me,
. I’ve had such a blessed life. God blessed me…I
mean, I was a little kind from a west Texas
town…and got every dream that he ever wanted. I
mean…it’s amazing. Even my life today…there
are some super highs and some lows---but even to
this day, I’m very blessed.
Anybody that ever watched Mid-Atlantic
Championship Wrestling, was blessed to see you
perform and entertain. You brought so much joy to so
I want to tell all the fans, ‘Thank you.’
And man, you and
…you guys are doing just an awesome job down
there. I appreciate everything you all are doing for
wrestling. God bless you guys.
Words like that make our efforts on the site all
seem worthwhile! Thank you for those kind words, and
thank you for all the time you’ve spent with the
Anytime I can do something for you…call me.
Thank you, buddy.