Les Thatcher, Wrestling Trainer: 1st October 2003
Man Australia continues to goes behind the scences
of pro wrestling.
time we we interview Les Thatcher, former wrestling
great, and trainer of champions.
has recently opened up a wrestling school, Elite Pro
also learn about Les's career, and what makes him
when and why did you break into pro wrestling?
became a pro wrestling fan at the age of 8, began
wrestling around the local YMCA's at age 12, then
in 1960 at the age of 19 I moved to Boston where Tony
Santos was training young athletes for pro wrestling.
I started training in Feb of 60 and had my first match
on the 4th of July 1960 vs Cowboy Bonnie Hill in Blue
Hills Maine. I fell in love with the biz as a child,
and looking back I picked the very best to be my favourite...Nature
Boy Buddy Rogers.
do you consider to be your main career highlights?
! I might just consider my entire 20 years in the
ring as a fantasy trip. I believe I worked with every
top guy there was between 1960 to 1980 when I hung
up the boots. Maybe going an hour with Danny Hodge
and two 5 minute over times to a draw would be the
tops. I never won the NWA world Jr Heavyweight title,
but was ranked worldwide in the top ten, and I joke
that I prepared two of the Champions for their title
run as I was tag partners with both Roger Kirby, and
Nelson Royal before they each won that belt . On the
TV side our programs brought some fresh ideas to the
production end back in the late 70's, and I was honored
to work the mic next to Gordon Solie, Lance Russell,
Bob Culdle, and Jim Ross.
have you given back to the business?
hope I've given back by helping young up coming performers
sharpen their game, and by always taking pride in
being a professional wrestler, and trying to be a
positive role model in terms of work ethic, and presenting
myself as a professional in public.
us about your current projects, including your great
new wrestling school, the EPWT?
a few months ago I sold controlling interest in HWA
to three other gentlemen, after ten years of building
the business, and 43 total in the profession I wanted
to slow down just a little. EPWT was an idea that
Harley Race and I came up with after doing a 2 day
clinic in Vegas this past April..Actually, EPWT can
take on several forms. We can arrange to train your
group at either HWA here or at Harley's WLW in Eldon,
Mo. Or you can select two, three, four, or five of
our trainers to come to your school or promotion to
do anywhere from a 2 day all the way up to a five
day clinic. We combine old school with the current
styles into what we hope will be a beautiful art form.
Check out"WHY EPWT" on the web site for
the best answer to that.
were you able to secure all of the great talent under
one roof - Race, Steamboat, Snow, Kai...
main thing with this crew is we all have an undying
passion for the business, and all want to help improve
the training style of the younger trainers that are
popping up, and help so many of these under trained
indie workers that are out there with no direction
and no idea how to find one, because they have been
either self trained or trained by someone who themselves
have very little knowledge. Between the five of us
there is over 160 years experience, in ever facet
of the industry. If you can't pick up something useful
here then I'm not sure you need to be in this industry.
your teaching style?
think I answered that in the last question, a combo
of old school and current styles, combined into on
style that makes sense.
do you select your staff? qualifications, ability,
think their names answers all this question with ease,
the group includes over 50 world and regional titles,
and 3 hall of fame members. We do not run a prison
camp but we do run a serious balls to the wall training
session. All of us had our asses handed to us way
back when we were learning, and we are not bashful
about cracking the whip. But on the other hand we
don't go as far as the trainers did back when we were
coming up, and beat the hell out of people. Our trainers
are all about timing, and art form, and psychology.
are your students ready? (other than when you tell
them that they are)
right, they are ready when we tell them they are,
but the main thing is that we allow everyone to learn
at their own pace. We push our trainees, but not beyond
what they can handle. This is a pressure business,
and you have to push buttons to see how people react
and handle it. If you can't deal with it down here
at the bottom of the mountain, there is no need to
try and climb to the top of said mountain.
is the drop out rate in traditional wrestling schools?
a tightly run quality run school the drop out rate
is quite high, since many young people think that
since this is entertainment, and a show that it will
be easy, and all fun and games.
is it about pro wrestling that attracts such a colourful
"cast of characters"?
, if I knew the answer to that I would be a rich man.
we can "name drop" for a moment, who are
some of the wrestlers who "made it", that
you have trained over the years?
you might say way back when, I may have given a word
of advice to a Ric Flair, or Brad Armstrong, or even
Ricky Steamboat, back then the veterans helped the
younger guys, but I wouldn't take credit for training
them. Currently, some of the talent you see on the
tube I may have been some help to would be Jamie Noble,
Shannon Moore, Johnny Stamboli, Charlie Haas, Maven,
Harvard Chris, Dlo Brown, Matt Stryker, BJ Whitmer,
Chad Collyer, Garrison Cade, Spanky, to name a few.
do you do to relax?
wife and I are Law and Order freaks for that TV show,
and I enjoy reading and still weight train some.
would you like to be remembered?
would be nice to think that when I leave this world
and business, which I guess will be at exactly the
same moment. someone would said that the old sucker
gave his heart and soul to his craft and passed some
of it along to the up and comers. That I added something
to the evolution of the industry. Some of my students
will remember me as that mean old bastard that got
in their face and yelled at them. Please, just explain
to them that I did it out of love for the business
and......for them. Everyone that trains at my place
becomes one of my extended family, and I want them
all to make it. I'm happy when they excel, and I cry
when they cry.
note: An interesting and educational interview. Gee
I love hardcore and old school!
Pro Wrestling Training
Schools: Greg Tingle's tribute
Promotions: Greg Tingle's list
Man Australia interviews:
Thatcher - 30th November 2003 (1WrestlingLegends.com)
"The Snake" Roberts
Man Australia: Sports