For our younger readers can you introduce yourself and historically update us?
My name is Duane Bailey aka Don Anderson. I wrestled professionally in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), American Wrestling Alliance (AWA) and the worldwide Wrestling Alliance (WWWA) from 1971 until my retirement in 1977. I wrestled throughout the United States and Canada, and had the pleasure of working with some of the greatest wrestlers in the business.
After my retirement from Professional wrestling, I started a career in large aircraft maintenance working for major airlines in the United States. I currently am working as a ” Lead Technician ” supervising maintenance on aircraft for Continental Airlines based in Houston, Texas in the United States.
Why the two names?
I first started wrestling in Phoenix, Arizona. The promotion there was looking for a young, good-looking wrestler to appeal to the young crowd and I was just what they wanted. The promotion like everything about me except my name, it did not sound like a young super stars name so they asked me to use the name of “Donnie Anderson”. I agreed to use the name, the fans liked it and me so my new identity was born.
Later in my career, I started to wrestle in the areas I grew up and went to school in, so I used my real name there. So my career was lived as two names for the same person, like so many movie stars and professional people do.
Why did you change from baseball to wrestling?
I loved baseball and was very good at it. Baseball is a team sport and not an individual sport for personal recognition. I loved wrestling as much as baseball and it is more of an individual sport for personal recognition and more of a challenge for you, not your team. You are out there in the ring by yourself (unless your are working a tag team match) and may the best man or woman win. Now that’s what I wanted, the challenge!
How do you look back on your NWA days? Can you tell us a little more about that? And the same for the AWA/ And also the WWWA?
When I think back on the days I was in the AWA, NWA, WWWA, I have only wonderful memories. I think of the tremendous bond that develops between the men and women in the business and the endless friendships that last through out your career and life. I also think of all the grudges that develop, the never ending task of getting even, mending torn muscles, broken bones and the scars that will never go away. They will remind you of your mat days every time you look in the mirror.
Where did you enjoy wrestling the most?
I enjoyed wrestling everywhere that I was booked to wrestle. The fans were so nice to me and I met so many wonderful people. If I had to select a favorite place to wrestle, it would have to be in the Pacific Northwest area known as Oregon. The reason would be, of course, because I was born there. That is my home, where I went to school and grew up.
How do you look back on your career? Any regrets?
When I look back on my career, I have no regrets. I had a wonderful career, meet a lot of interesting people, saw a lot of different towns and made a lot of money. I would have liked to have had a longer career in wrestling but I wanted a career that would allow me to be with my family more and not spend so much time on the road traveling.
Please respond to the following names: Andre the Giant, Dory Funk, Terry Funk, Jimmy Snuka, Bobo Brazil, Lou Thezs, & Jerry Lawler.
Andre the Giant: 7ft. 4 in. 500 lbs. He truly was a giant but what a nice man. He was very good at selling out the arenas we wrestled in and always put on a good show.
Dory Funk: what a performer. Dory knew all the wrestling moves and how to get into and out of all the wrestling holds a hundred different ways.
Terry Funk: did not use a lot of wrestling moves. He liked to kick, punch, bite, more or less a bar room fighter but he won most of his matches and drew a lot of money.
Jimmy Snuka: the “Super Fly” was poetry in motion. He would fly off the top rope and turnbuckles like an Olympic high diver in a swimming pool. He was a bodybuilder before he became a wrestler and he looked terrific.
Bobo Brazil: Very good wrestler and a big money drawer. I only meet him once but I was very impressed with his style and wrestling abilities.
Lou Thezs: World Champion several times over, many years in the business. A very tough wrestler that knew how to wrestle and how to draw big money. Someone that any wrestler could look up to.
Jerry Lawler: A good wrestler that is still active in the WWE today. Jerry has excited the wrestling audiences for a number of years and is a credit to the wrestling business.
Who has been your toughest opponent ever and why?
It is very hard to narrow down a career of wrestling 5, 6, or even 7 days a week for years to the toughest opponent I have ever wrestled. Everyone is the “toughest” in there own special way. To answer this question, I would have to separate it into two parts:
The first is the toughest opponent I had ever wrestled in a clean, scientific match and I will have to say that it was Ken Mantell. Ken was the “Junior Heavy champion” of the world. He had a very good amateur background, which complimented his outstanding professional wrestling skills. He was a clean, scientific wrestler but he could get very rough if he had to.
In one of the matches we had, I remember I wrestled him in the semi- main event in Shreveport, Louisiana. We wrestled for about 25 minutes of good clean wrestling, trading holds, reversals, take downs, non-stop action and neither one of us seemed to be able to really get the advantage over the other. Ken suddenly lost his temper and hit me up side of the head with a fore arm, “not a fist” but a fore arm, a legal move. The crowd jumped to their feet and booed him, they booed the champion…what a great match!
At the end of our match, the crowd gave us both a standing ovation. The main event had a very hard time trying to follow our match. Ken held many titles and was a very hard man to defeat.
Second, the toughest opponent I ever had in a wrestling match / fight was a 6-ft.6 in. 350 lbs. Apache Indian named Bull Ramos. He was extremely strong and took very good bumps for a big man. I would do my wrestling stuff and he was so strong he could just do what he wanted to with my little 5 ft. 9 in. 235 lbs. Body. He was a very good wrestler and drew a lot of money at the box office.
How do you look back on the territory days? Please compare them to the current state of wrestling. Do you still follow wrestling? What do you think of it now?
Back in the “territory” days, if you were burned out in an area (stayed too long in an area and the fans get tired of seeing you) you could call another promoter and go to that territory and wrestle for a while. Most of the wrestlers did just that, go where the money was for them.
I have been retired for many years now but I think most of the wrestling in the United States is promoted by only one promotion. Oh sure, there are some small wild cat promotion running but the big money makers and big box offices are run by only one promotion.
I still follow wrestling because after all the years I have been around the wrestling business I still love it and I still am a “wrestling fan”. Not a mark but a fan. I think wrestling today is a lot different then when I was in the business. They use a lot more gimmicks and ladies with very little clothing on but they give the fans what the want to see. The wrestling of today gives the fans 2 to 3 hours of non-stop, exciting action and they are selling out every arena that the wrestlers perform in. They are doing a fantastic job.
Do you have a big video/DVD collection wrestling wise? What do you like to watch? Also non-wrestling stuff.
No I don’t have a big video / DVD collection of wrestling. I enjoy watching all the pay-per-view but once I have seen them I don’t care to watch them again. I love to watch wrestling, boxing, car racing and drag racing, almost any sporting events. I enjoy regular movies also, action, westerns, dramas, and love stories.
What was Portland Wrestling like? How is the Portland scene now, if you know?
Portland, Oregon wrestling was fantastic. The promotion was run by Don and Elton Owens, two brothers that knew the business and how to make money at it. Both Don and Elton took good care of the wrestlers and paid well. Most of the trips were short and there was not so much traveling as in some of the larger states that I have wrestled in.
What do you know about The Netherlands and about our Dutch wrestling scene?
I don’t know much about the Netherlands except that it is very beautiful there and the Dutch people seem to be extremely friendly and loving. I reviewed your website and your Dutch wrestlers appear to be very talented wrestlers and performers. They look like they can draw some big money at the box office for some promotions.
What does it mean to be a C.A.C. member? Are you in touch with other members?
The C. A. C. (Cauliflower Alley Club) is a group of people who share a common feeling and that feeling is the love for wrestling. All the members are wrestlers, have been wrestlers, referees, managers, promoters, or just people who love wrestling and want to keep the “ring of friendship” alive forever.
It is wonderful to keep in contact with the business, the wrestlers and know how everyone is feeling and doing. We also know about the friends that we have lost. I only found out about the C. A. C. this year but I am a very proud member and will be forever. The C. A. C. also helps me keep up on the location of friends, and how to get in contact with them.
A lot of ex-wrestlers do personal appearances. Do you as well? Why or why not?
I do not do any personal appearances because I just do not have the time. I work a full time job with a major airline and when I am not on the job I want to be doing something with my family and friends. Being in the airline industry, my family and I do a lot of traveling and that keeps us busy.
How did you end up in aircraft maintenance?
I have always loved mechanical and electrical devices. When I retired from the ring, I wanted a career that had longevity and good income. Aircraft have always fascinated me so I enrolled in a school to learn aircraft maintenance. Here I am, 28 years later working for a major airline supervising aircraft maintenance. I love it!
What is it like to live in Texas, compared to Oregon or Portland?
I live in Houston, Texas. It is a very large state and Houston is the 4th largest city in the United States. Everywhere you choose to go is very busy and crowded. Houston is also very hot in the summers but it cools off in the winters making it nice and mild. We have our “hurricane” season and we always have to be on the lookout for a possible disaster.
Oregon on the other hand, has booth mild summers and winters, a real 4-seasons place (spring, summer, fall,and winter). It has many large mountains and mountain ranges, lots of trees, and beautiful lakes and the Pacific Ocean coast. Oregon is where I will live when I finish my aircraft maintenance career and retire.
Where will wrestling be in about 5 or 10 years?
Where wrestling will be in 5 or 10 years is very difficult to guess. Let us just hope and pray that it is still around for all the fans to enjoy. Let us also hope and pray that the feature generations of wrestling superstars are as exciting and entertaining as the past and that there will forever be professional wrestling for the world to enjoy.
Who was/is the biggest wrestler ever, Hulk Hogan, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or maybe someone else?
Of the two wrestlers you have chosen (Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin), I feel that Hulk Hogan is better known. However, give Steve Austin the same amount of time in the business and he may become equally as well know as Hulk Hogan.
Famous last words…
In closing, I’d like to thank you for doing this interview with me. I am very honored. Thank you also for letting me become a member of your “Wall of Fame” and sharing that honor with other wrestling greats. Most of all, I’d like to thank the wrestling fans for always being there. Because without the fans, the wrestlers would have no one to perform for and no reason to perform. The wrestling fans are the real heroes.