Still Crazy After All These Years
In a recent conversation, we talked with the legendary Don Fargo about how he brought Johnny Fargo (Greg Valentine) to a position of importance in the National Wrestling Federation. Don't forget to check out Don's DVD , either.
You were in Detroit first, then Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. What were your impressions of “The Hammer” when he was 19, 20 years old?
He looked exactly like his dad. That was the main thing. I saw him and kept him around me a lot because he was a good kid. He worked like his dad [Johnny Valentine].
Slow and stiff. I grew up on the idea, I started him as a manager and he worked with me managing for a while, he was probably about 18. I didn’t know him when he was a little kid. I knew his dad a lot. But he just didn’t cut it as a manager. So I gave him the name, Babyface Nelson in Detroit with The Sheik. We hung around so much together, I needed a tag partner bad and he was it. To tell you the truth, we had as good a tag team as me and Jackie had, if not better.
Buffalo was when we really hit it big, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, all that way. His girlfriend and my girlfriend, we lived by Niagara Falls.
How was Pedro Martinez to work for?
Like all the rest – hard [laughs]. Of course, not so much with John. He was dry; he wasn’t like me. I liked to rib people and get sort of loud.
And you been around at that point for the better part of 20 years.
Oh yeah, I started in 1949.
So this is ’70, ’71, ’72.
Yeah. You see, fans believed we were brothers. Pedro made us champions, tag champions. As I say, he was dry, but after a while, he got with the program. One time, Pedro’s kid [Ron Martinez] was doing the interviews. So we went to this one town to do it – I can’t remember the name – and Ronnie was standing out front, getting ready to announce us, the Fargos, coming out to talk. We were supposed to walk out from behind the curtain. We come out naked. I mean, he went, “Oh, no, man, cut! Aww, cut!” That’s when they were still taping things. And he said, “Get your damn tights and singlets.” We go back and put on our tights and everything. We had to start over again. We took a felt pen, and I put F-U-C-K on my chest, and Y-O-U on his chest and he announces us again … “fuck you!” I guess Johnny was getting to be like his dad, because his dad was a helluva ribber.
Was that a good territory to work, Buffalo, Cleveland?
Oh, yeah, it was great, but it was so goddamned cold. You’d freeze up there in the wintertime, boy. I’ll tell you, we did one time, too with Pedro’s son … me and Hammer were working Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he [Ron Martinez] wanted to stay over because he had some stuff to do and he had just bought a new Cadillac convertible. He wanted to know if we would drive it back to Buffalo for him. We said, “Hell, yeah, man.” So me and John, we get in, we’re flying down the turnpike, man, I’m sitting on top of the seat, the radio’s going full blast, I’m naked and Johnny’s driving. We’re just going like hell. We didn’t hear the goddamned engine knocking. We blew the damn engine in his new car! And we had to hitchhike. And we had to tell him his car’s sitting about 100 miles out. We told him where it was at and he had to go get it.
I don’t ever recall John talking on camera when you two guys were together.
Yeah, I did all the talking. Even when he was the Hammer, somebody did the talking.
His dad would put somebody in a headlock for five minutes and hold it. Did you work with John on changing any of that?
That’s the way they did it in those days. I had a match one time with an old-timer and he put me in a headlock. I stayed in that damned headlock, I’ll bet ya, for thirty minutes. I’d get up, he’d roll me over, the people we’re going crazy. You do that now, they’d probably curse you.
You guys always seemed to fight Luis Martinez.
I’ve got that on my videotape. I was there when, I think it was Buffalo, when the bear bit his finger off. The bear ate it. He was looking around the mat for his finger and the bear was eating it.
You were there for a couple years, and I think you went on to the Gulf Coast after that.
What happened was me and John broke up. Then his dad got hurt and he looked so much like his dad, he went to Carolina and was a big star there with Ric Flair. That was a good team.
And you had more aliases.
All told, someone told me I had 18 different gimmicks, 18 different names. I just found out two more records the other day. I forgot I wrestled as “The Fonz,” Fonzo Fargo.
How are you doing now? When I talked to you last, you were just getting over the hurricanes.
It destroyed us. What a mess it was. I just left it alone. Trees are too big and rolled over, roots are too high … hell, it would bulldozers and tractors. The dogs are O.K. They live in the house, anyhow.
© February 2006 SteelBeltWrestling.com