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My Life in Wrestling and Politics
By Glenn Jacobs
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FOREWORD BY UNDERTAKER
It’s hard to imagine a performer for WWE who has been more integral to the popularity and evolution of Undertaker than Kane has been for over twenty years.
It’s also hard to imagine a better person in the pro wrestling business than Kane, aka Glenn Jacobs, who performed as my half brother for many years.
When Glenn entered the ring as Kane in 1997, many observers thought his career as a wrestler for WWE might be brief. The conventional wisdom was that I would work with him for a short period of time before moving on to other opponents. If you had asked Glenn back then, he likely would have told you the same thing.
That’s, obviously, not what happened. Kane became a force in his own right, headlining the biggest shows during the height of WWE’s popularity in the 1990s. Having Kane, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson), Mankind (aka Mick Foley), Triple H, and Undertaker all in the main-event mix during the Attitude Era. That was the time, from 1997 to 1999, when WWE’s Monday Night Raw went head-to-head with World Championship Wrestling’s Monday Nitro, and it is a time I will never forget. That was like the Mount Rushmore of wrestling, with all of the legends on top at once.
Nor will I ever forget all the great times Glenn and I had with the late, great Paul Bearer.
Kane accomplished so much separate from his work with Undertaker. From becoming World Champion multiple times to teaming with Daniel Bryan to form Team Hell No, and even going corporate to join The Authority, he has seen and done it all in WWE, constantly reinventing himself to repeated success.
Still, whenever Kane and I, Undertaker, teamed up as The Brothers of Destruction, no one could touch us. We were unstoppable.
During the many years I’ve known Glenn, he has always been one of the smartest guys in the locker room. So, I wasn’t surprised when, in 2018, he was elected mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. I know how much he and his family love their home there and how passionate he is about politics and helping his friends and neighbors.
Glenn might be the nicest person in WWE, which is an accomplishment for anyone who has been in our business since 1992, when he made his wrestling debut. I’m sure Glenn will find politics just as challenging, but I know it won’t change him. He is considerate and truly cares about others. The Glenn you see is the Glenn you get.
Every day, both of us appreciate the unique lives we’ve lived in WWE. The stories we’ve told in the ring will remain etched in the minds of many long after we’re gone. That’s quite a legacy.
For Kane and Undertaker, I wouldn’t change a thing that’s happened over the last two decades. Demon and Deadman’s inseparable journey has been an incredible one; you just never know where The Brothers of Destruction might pop up next.
FOREWORD BY SEN. RAND PAUL
My friend Glenn Jacobs has not only made a name for himself in the WWE world, but has been politically active and community oriented for years, doing everything he can to serve his neighbors at home in Tennessee. When he was elected mayor in 2018, I knew not only that the people of Knox County had chosen a quality leader who would work hard for them, but a genuinely decent person who is involved in politics for all the right reasons.
That’s hard to find in Washington or anywhere else.
I first met Glenn in New Hampshire in 2007. He was hard to miss. Standing head and shoulders above the crowd that had gathered to support my father’s presidential campaign, Glenn’s sheer size immediately captured one’s attention.
Like so many young people from disparate backgrounds, Glenn was a part of the “Ron Paul Revolution,” a movement focused on injecting libertarian and constitutionalist ideas back into a GOP where they had been missing or dormant for years.
When I returned home to Kentucky from New Hampshire, many friends wanted to know if I had met other GOP candidates, like former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney or Sen. John McCain of Arizona, but my kids were more interested to learn that I had met Kane. My middle son insisted on me getting him a Kane poster, and we went to see him wrestle in Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.
Over the years, I came to know Kane as Glenn and to appreciate his academic and intellectual talents, which go beyond his feats of brawn.
In 2010, when I ran for an open U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky, I appreciated Glenn’s support, and the feeling has always been mutual. Eight years later, in 2018, I had the privilege of supporting him in his run for mayor.
It was an easy endorsement to make. I don’t often get involved in state or city races because, frankly, few in my party understand that less government and more liberty are key if Americans are going to achieve their dreams. Many mouth the rhetoric because they think they’re supposed to, but few follow through and take it seriously. Glenn actually gets it. He’s thought about these ideas and about his own political philosophy in a deeper way than most.
Glenn and I also both ran as outsiders. I had never held public office before running for U.S. Senate. I was, and still am, an ophthalmologist by trade. Glenn had never held public office before becoming mayor of Knox County. He had traveled the world as an internationally known WWE star for decades, something some career politicians might have tried to use against him.
But the old rules don’t apply anymore. People are tired of the same old politics. They want more outsiders getting involved in politics. Americans across the board are tired of the status quo.
Just ask the current occupant of the White House. Glenn didn’t need to become mayor. He wanted to because of his passion and commitment to public service. The fact that he’s not a lifelong politician is an asset, not a liability. It’s a big part of what makes him such a good mayor. Glenn’s pro-liberty and small-government philosophy on virtually everything—education, the economy, regulation, taxes, property rights, free markets, individual freedoms, you name it—is exactly what we need more of in this country. We also need it at every level—federal, state, and local—maximizing freedom and minimizing government wherever possible.
Most Republicans at any level will agree, in theory, that we need a greater amount of fiscal responsibility and fewer politicians trying to run our lives. But nine times out of ten, Republicans are just as much a part of the problem as anyone else. Believe me, I’m surrounded by them in Washington every day.
Very few are serious about the ideas of liberty. Glenn Jacobs is one of those few.
When I was eight years old and living on our family’s small farm in northeastern Missouri, Baron von Raschke scared me so badly that I turned off the TV.
Once a month, my family would travel to my grandmother’s house outside St. Louis. The highlight of the trip was sitting cross-legged in front of Grandma’s TV on Saturday morning and watching Wrestling at the Chase, which was then one of the country’s premier professional wrestling shows.
Wrestling at the Chase featured some of the biggest stars in the sport, including Harley Race, Ric Flair, and the Von Erich family. But it was von Raschke, a villainous German whose bald head and snarling demeanor bore a passing resemblance to Freddy Krueger, who made an indelible imprint on my young psyche.
Little did I know then that professional wrestling, which would evolve into what we know today as “sports entertainment,” would play such an integral role in my life. And, like von Raschke, I would find most of my success as a vicious heel who scared people half to death!
Hailing from Madrid, Spain
April 26, 1967, was an uneventful day in the history of Torrejón Air Base in Madrid, Spain. But it was a momentous day for me as U.S. Air Force master sergeant George Jacobs and his wife, Joan, welcomed their bouncing baby boy, Glenn Thomas Jacobs, into the world.
My mom and dad had both grown up in West Alton, Missouri, a small town of a few hundred people right outside St. Louis. While I have some English and Dutch ancestors, I come from mostly German stock. In fact, my mother’s maiden name is Reichmann. Before moving to America, it was pronounced “Rike-mon,” about as German sounding as you can get. After coming to the United States, the family Americanized it to “Reek-mon.”
My mother’s family farmed in the Missouri Bottoms area of the Mississippi River floodplain, some of the most fertile soil in the country. My dad’s father was a carpenter and a veteran of World War I who was awarded a Purple Heart and a Silver Star fighting on the Western Front.
Mom and Dad got married shortly after high school. By this time, Dad had already enlisted in the Navy. He served in the Navy for ten years, seeing action during the Korean War on the aircraft carrier USS Antietam. He later switched services to the Air Force.
His eleven years in the USAF included a stint in Vietnam. As a loadmaster, Dad was in charge of weight and balance calculations on the big planes, like the Air Force’s gigantic Lockheed C-130 Hercules, which was designed to transport troops and cargo. He gave the approval for a flight to take off, one of the rare instances where an enlisted man could overrule a general.
Upon entering the world, I joined my sister, Becky, who was then ten, and my brother, Bryan, eight. I’ve often wondered why I came so long after my siblings, and if I was an unexpected accident or a pleasant surprise—or both.
My father is on record as saying that I was the only planned baby, but I think he says that just to make me feel better!
Becky, Bryan, and Me
Other than being tall and kind of looking alike, Becky, Bryan, and I are about as diverse as you can be. Becky definitely got the brains in the family. She worked for a while at NASA, then earned her PhD in history. Today, she is a professor at a community college in Oklahoma. Bryan is a gifted mechanic. For as long as I can remember, he has been taking apart, fixing, and putting back together anything that has moving parts.
I was the family athlete, although it took a while for my talents to manifest.
Unlike Becky and Bryan, I never experienced the military lifestyle—moving around every year or so—that many kids do. About a year after I was born, we came back to the United States; three years later, Dad retired from the Air Force.
We settled on a small farm about a twenty-minute drive from the town of Bowling Green, in northeastern Missouri. We lived about a mile from a little unincorporated hamlet called Estes.
You’ve probably heard about towns that have only one stoplight. Estes had just one stop sign. The main attraction in Estes—in fact, the only attraction—was the general store.
Occasionally, I would walk down the country highway with Becky or Bryan to get a Coke and listen and watch as the old-timers chewed the fat… and, of course, tobacco. The sodas cost a nickel each, and you opened them with the bottle opener screwed into the side of an ice-filled metal box, which acted as the cooler.
On a hot Missouri summer day, those ice-cold Coca-Colas were almost as good as the signature lemon meringue pies at the Presbyterian church’s ladies auxiliary club’s bake sales!
I clearly had my priorities straight as a kid.
In the middle of our little farm sat a boulder, which became the source of a family controversy. This rock—a large, reddish hunk about three feet around, nestled peacefully in a meadow—was completely out of place and inconsistent with the rest of the geology of the place.
Mom claimed that it was a meteorite and wanted to send a sample to the University of Missouri so that geologists there could examine it. Looking back now, it’s obvious that a meteorite that size would have created a massive crater. But, at the time, the idea of an extraterrestrial object in our backyard was exciting to me, which may explain my later, fleeting fascination with UFOs and all things outer space.
Growing up on a farm was not really the bucolic, romanticized life that you read about in novels. For instance, consider the smells.
They’re not exactly fragrant.
Across the road from our house was a large hog farm. When the wind blew the right way, we relaxed on the porch, and enjoyed the pleasant evenings. But when the breeze shifted, which it often did within a couple of minutes, the clean country air was replaced by the stench of manure from hundreds of hogs.
The WCW pay-per-view Hog Wild was sweet and genteel compared to our swine experience!
On our farm, we raised a few cattle and some hogs. One of my earliest memories was waking early in the morning to accompany Dad to the barn. One of our sows had given birth to a litter of piglets. Dad was making sure that she didn’t roll over on them and accidentally kill them.
Another time, we discovered a bloated cow in our cornfield. She had fallen onto her side and couldn’t get back up. I watched in fascination and horror as my parents inserted a corkscrew-shaped trocar between the poor beast’s ribs to relieve the pent-up gas.
I was completely mortified. Fortunately the cow survived and was soon back to normal. As for me, well, there are some things you just can’t unsee.
By the time I was in third grade, Becky and Bryan had both moved out of the house. Becky had graduated high school and was attending the University of Missouri at Columbia. She stayed there only a year, though. Mizzou was a big school and too impersonal for her. She ended up being accepted into a work-study program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and moved to Houston, where she attended the University of Houston–Clear Lake. Eventually, she would earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Then another undergraduate degree in archeology. Then a PhD in history.
To say she’s accomplished is an understatement.
Bryan had gone to live with Grandma near St. Louis so that he could attend a vocational school and study auto mechanics. He was always so good with his hands. A natural talent.
From something as small as a watch to a piece of heavy machinery, Bryan can fix it.
I couldn’t have asked for a better brother and sister.
Baseball, Basketball, and Hulk Hogan
After Becky and Bryan left home, I essentially became an only child. Granted, because of our age differences, it wasn’t like we had been playmates. But I enjoyed their company, especially Becky’s.
I remember a Halloween party Becky hosted at our house for some of her friends. At the time, the movie Billy Jack was a hit. We will never again see so many barefooted teenagers wearing flat-brimmed, round-domed cowboy hats in one place as were at our house that night!
Growing up alone had its advantages. I think that it really helped enrich my imagination.
My parents were always big readers, and I would often immerse myself in books to pass the time. My favorites were Westerns by Louis L’Amour. I also learned that I was pretty good company and felt comfortable in my own skin.
Despite having pursued careers that have placed me in the public eye, I am very much an introvert and would rather read a book at home than socialize out on the town. I’m convinced that my childhood has a lot to do with that.
Around my fourth-grade year, my family moved about an hour away to another small farm, near a town of about three hundred residents called Frankford. Halloween night in Frankford was reminiscent of Devil’s Night in the movie The Crow. For years, unruly folks dragged junk cars to the middle of Main Street and set them on fire!
Luckily that was the most exciting thing to happen in town, except possibly when Frankford native P. J. Lansing appeared as Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month in its February 1972 issue. Nevertheless, if Lansing’s centerfold had caused any buzz in Frankford, it had long since dissipated by the time we arrived about five years later.
Since I was new at school, I certainly wasn’t the most popular kid. Add to that my height, and my social and physical awkwardness, and I often felt that I didn’t fit in. I was a naturally good student. Not great, but good.
From an early age, I was passionate about sports, especially baseball. Growing up near St. Louis, I was a huge Cardinals fan. I fondly remember staying up late during the summer to listen as KMOX’s legendary radio duo of Jack Buck and Mike Shannon called a Cardinals West Coast road trip.
My dream was to play for the Cardinals. I recall setting up an imaginary scenario in which it was the bottom of the ninth inning in the World Series. The Cardinals were down by three runs, and the bases were loaded with two outs. With the image firmly in mind, I toss a rock into the air and swing at it with a stick.
Unfortunately, I was a pretty horrible baseball player. I didn’t hit that rock very often. I don’t think I even had a hit in my entire Little League baseball career.
Because of my height, I was a much better basketball player. But until my body matured, my dreams of playing professional sports were just that—dreams! I kept trying, though, playing football and basketball in middle school. By eighth grade, I was six feet, four inches tall and still growing. Knowing my brother, Bryan, was close to six foot eight, I figured basketball was my best bet and I decided to concentrate on that.
I was a pretty good basketball player, and I kept getting better as I grew into my body. By the time I was a senior in high school, I was being recruited by a number of colleges, including some Division 1 schools. I had also become a pretty decent student by that time, graduating in 1985 from Bowling Green High School, the county’s consolidated high school, in the top 10 percent of my class.
I am totally proud to be a child of the ’80s. My teenage years were dominated by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox, early home video game systems like the Atari 2600, iconic “feuds” like the one between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and TV shows like The Dukes of Hazzard and The A-Team.
But most of all, I was smitten by music videos on MTV. Like millions of other teenagers, I’d race home or to a friend’s house after school to watch the latest videos on the relatively new cable music channel.
And I wasn’t the only one who took note of the rise of MTV. Much of the success of WWE in the 1980s can be traced to the decision by WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon to partner with and promote artists like Cyndi Lauper.
And, just as MTV was changing entertainment, a blond, bulging behemoth named Hulk Hogan was changing professional wrestling.
Tanned and muscular, Hogan looked nothing like the pro wrestlers I remembered from my childhood. He was a superhero come to life. I’ll never forget watching Hogan slam Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III. I’d injured my ankle playing basketball and was in a hospital bed when the clip played on the syndicated show The George Michael Sports Machine.
Nevertheless, my interest in pro wrestling was still just as a casual fan. I’d earned a basketball scholarship to attend Quincy College (now Quincy University) in Illinois, about an hour’s drive north of Frankford.
After a year and a half there, I became frustrated with my role on the team and transferred to Northeast Missouri State University (NEMO) in Kirksville, less than two hours from Frankford.
Like many young people, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. I’d started my college career as a computer science major, but I just wasn’t that adept at it. Thinking that I might like to teach, I switched my major to English.
At NEMO, they were introducing a program for education majors and I got caught in the transition. So, while I would eventually earn a BA in English, I would graduate a couple of hours short of my teaching certification.
When I graduated high school, I only weighed about 230 pounds. That’s pretty slim on a six-eight frame. I’d only played basketball and had never really lifted weights.
All that changed when I began college.
“I’ll Be Practicing with the Chicago Bears!”
I spent the summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college with Becky in Houston, where I joined the local Gold’s Gym. Over the following couple of months, I put on twenty pounds of muscle.
In college, my coaches encouraged me to lift and I loved it! Lifting weights became one of my main pastimes; by senior year, I weighed about 285 pounds.
Talk about large and in charge!
By then, I had played four years of basketball. But as I bulked up, the football coach began talking to me more and more about joining his team, something I had never considered before. I had one year of eligibility left if I decided to switch from basketball to football. With a few hours left to get my degree and my only prospects of playing basketball professionally in question, I decided: What the heck!
I donned a helmet and pads.
I discovered that my body was made for football. As I continued to lift weights (and eat a lot), I eventually tipped the scales at 320 pounds!
Playing basketball all those years had helped me retain my athleticism. Being a Division 2 school, we rarely had NFL scouts watching our practices, but they showed up to watch me.
I was receiving letters of interest from the Dallas Cowboys and other NFL teams. ESPN’s NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. had a list of potential picks to move up to the pros, and I was ranked at number 25.
I hadn’t played football since the eighth grade!
But, as often happens, life had different plans for me. It was the first practice of our first game week of the season. Practice was essentially over. Given the day’s high heat index, we weren’t running sprints or doing any conditioning. By now, the team had the playbook down pat, so the last fifteen minutes of practice was devoted to going through some trick plays.
We were walking through the plays at three-quarters speed, no contact, and had removed our helmets and shoulder pads. This particular play was a wide receiver reverse.
I was playing right offensive tackle and the play was coming to my side. The quarterback would fake a handoff to the running back on a play to the opposite side and then make the handoff to a wideout who was running my way. My job was to allow the opposing defensive end or outside linebacker to get around me, then—as he realizes his mistake and turns to pursue the wide receiver—clean his clock.
The center hiked the ball and the play began to develop. I allowed the linebacker to get past me, but as I pivoted a strange thing happened. Somehow, I was on my back on the ground.
Seriously, I had no idea what had happened. One second I was on my feet. The next I was on my back.
No one had hit me. I just fell.
Then, as I got back up to my feet, my left knee buckled and I fell again. This time, when I tried to get up, I couldn’t put any weight on that knee. There was no pain. The knee just wasn’t stable enough to hold me upright.
By now, the whole team had gathered around to see what was up. Finally, the training staff came over to look at me. After discovering that moving my knee in a couple of different directions caused some discomfort, they helped me off the field and into the training room.
I got undressed and they wrapped ice on my knee. I showered, took the ice off, and went home on crutches with my knee in a splint. By now, the knee had become tender and was beginning to swell.
When I woke up the next day, my left knee was howling with pain and continuing to swell. Our head trainer, Clint Thompson (who, incidentally, was the head trainer at Michigan State University the year they won a national championship with Magic Johnson), thought that I had torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
My parents drove to Kirksville, picked me up, and took me to the University of Missouri at Columbia for an exploratory arthroscopic procedure. The surgery confirmed Clint’s diagnosis. I had suffered a partial tear of my ACL and damaged the meniscus in my left knee.
Since I didn’t have the medical hardship waiver called a medical redshirt, I had no choice but to play that season or end my career without having played a single college game. So I worked very hard at rehab and was back on the field after six weeks.
Unfortunately, I just wasn’t the player that I had been before the injury. I didn’t have the explosiveness or the agility that I had possessed previously. I also guarded my knee. For an offensive lineman, it’s all about footwork. Depending on which way the play is going, you have to take certain steps in a certain way. If you don’t, you will never make the play.
After the injury, I had a lot of trouble leading with my left foot. Often, it was an unconscious fear. I was gun-shy about using that leg.
Despite my struggles, the team had an excellent year. We ended up with a 9-2 record, losing in the national Division 2 playoffs. Of course, I didn’t contribute much, if at all, to that success, but it was a memorable season nonetheless.
Though I still didn’t give up on my dream, my prospects appeared much dimmer now.
I graduated in the winter semester of 1990 and moved back home. I got a job working in a group home for individuals with special needs. But I kept training hard, hoping that I could get a shot in the NFL.
I wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, the annual weeklong showcase in Indianapolis for college athletes, but I did work out with a couple of teams. When draft day came, I was pretty excited. My agent told me that a few teams were willing to take a chance on me and I could expect to be drafted in the later rounds.
That didn’t happen. I can’t say that I was shocked by this turn of events. After all, here I was, a basketball player turned football player who had minimal experience playing at a small school and had suffered a severe knee injury less than a year before. Not exactly a recipe for success as an NFL prospect.
However, I was elated when, a few days later, my agent told me that the Chicago Bears had offered me a contract as an undrafted free agent. It even included a $5,000 signing bonus!
A couple of weeks later, I flew from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, where a car picked me up and whisked me off to the Bears’ training facility in Lake Forest, Illinois. There, all the rookies went through a battery of physicals, everything from vision tests to hearing tests to, of course, orthopedic tests.
At the end of the day, we met with our position coaches who told us what to expect the next day at the minicamp. I went to bed that night on cloud nine. “Tomorrow,” I thought, “I’ll be practicing with the Chicago Bears!”
The next morning, a bus carried the rookies who were staying in the hotel to the Bears’ training facility.
- On Sale
- Nov 26, 2019
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Center Street