Saturday, June 12, 2004

"It was like Freddie Blassie was coming into your house"

An excerpt from Listen, You Pencil Necks, by "Classie" Freddie Blassie.

Kosuke Takeuchi, President, Weekly Gong Magazine

"In 1962 we were still feeling the loss of World War II, and when Rikidozan beat (classy Freddy) Blassie for the WWA championship, he defeated the Americans.

"Everybody I knew watched Blassie's match with Rikidozan on tv. The televisions were only black-and-white then, so Blassie's hair looked white. His eyes were popping out and he had blood all over himself. He was really frightening.

"I've seen lots of foreign wrestlers -- Americans had been coming to Japan for several years as heels -- but never a heel like this. We were used to wrestlers picking up chairs and hitting opponents with them. That was as bad as it got. Blassie was the first time (the Japanese) ever saw bite somebody and draw blood. Blood would not only pour down the front of his face, but the chest and even the back of his head. It was shocking.

"In the past the foreign heel would come in and lose. Then, he would accept his loss like a Japanese athelete would. Blassie was the only wrestler who, when he would lose, he still wanted to bite someone. In Japan, which is an orderly nation, we didn't understand this maniacal kind of man.

"Blassie always bragged that when Japanese people saw him on tv, they had heart attacks and died. This is true. TV was still very new in Japan, and only 50 percent of the population had tvs. So, big groups of people sat together to watch wrestling. There still wasn't an understanding of the distance between yourself and the television. It was like Freddie Blassie was coming into your house. And there was a certain type of hysteria that upset some of the older Japanese people to the point where they had heart attacks and died.

"Blassie knew about what happened. The reporters in Japan told him about the details. I don't know how he felt privately, he didn't seem to care. He said, 'If you're too old or ill, don't watch me on tv. If you do, you get what you deserve.'"

And that's why he was "Classie"

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