Ken Patera on WWE Snubbing Him for the Hall of Fame

May 14, 2023 - by James Walsh

Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: Ken Patera
Date: 05/11/2023
Your Host: James Walsh

Ken Patera is a Hall of Famer in the world of weight lifting as well as in the world of professional wrestling, Though you would think he is a WWE Hall of Famer, he actually is not in there! That comes up in our chat as we discuss his life and times and tell the true Ken Patera story which differs greatly from the early WWF VHS tape by that name.

Ken Patera’s brand new autobiography “The Weight of the World” is available now via our friends at Walking on Hot Waffles publishing and you can purchase your personalized and autographed copy at!

Don’t forget to check out for more great content like this!


On why now was the right time to write his life story:
“Well, I’m almost 80 years old. So, do the math on that one! But, I’ve had friends bitching and complaining at me for 40 years, and that is not an exaggeration, wanting me to put pen to paper! So, I decided it was time…. I quit drinking. That was the worst thing that I ever did. Oh God! I’ve been drinking all of my life. But, that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing. I’ve always had control of all of my faculties… Never hurt anybody, never bothered anybody. I was a good drunk! (laughs)”

On where to get the book:
“I created a new website. Wait until you hear the name…. It is! I’m a long way from new York. I live in Northern Minnesota. So, if you order it through my site, I can personalize it and autograph it for my fans. And, actually, I’m doing real, real well with the sales of the book!”

On Ric Flair writing the forward:
“Ric and I lived together for a wile there when we were in Vern Gagne’s AWA training camp. A lot of people don’t realize that was a very successful training camp. Most of us ended up being main eventers somewhere sooner or later. It was Ric Flair, The Iron Sheik who is really from Iran. A lot of people think he was a fake Arab from 5th Avenue in New York City or something but he was really from Iran. He was a sweetheart of a guy. I really liked him! So, anyway. It was Ric Flair, Iron Sheik, myself, “Jumpin'” Jimmy Brunzell, Greg Gagne – Vern’s son, and a friend of Wahoo McDaniel’s Bob Bruggers. Bob was an amazing athlete and he ended up being a teammate of Wahoo’s in the Miami Dolphins.”

On the infamous Munich Olympics attack in 1972:
“It was crazy! It happened on September 5, 1972 – The day I was supposed to complete in the Olympics. It was a nuts time. I took the bus over to the training hall, got weighed in… That happened at 5 a.m. They still made us all weigh in! I mean, what the f***? Later that day, they cancelled the Olympics because of the terrorists shooting up the Jews. But, I could see them. I went over and looked out my window and there were the terrorists out there… The thing that disturbed me is that about a week before that happened, they got word that Yasser Arafat and the PLO were planning some kind of terrorist attack. So, they really stepped up security. Well, the Jewish delegation were pissed off. They were saying, “You guys are acting like Gestapos! We don’t need all this protection!” Well, even with the stepped up security, the terrorists still got over the fence where it was real dark. I don’t know why there was no lighting. Maybe there was and they turned it off. But, they shot them up. It was real bad. They came in and told me, “The Olympics are cancelled.” I said, “No Olympics? What the f***!” I had trained for 2 years for this. But, I did get to compete later on after the games were resumed.”

On transitioning from weight lifting to pro wrestling:
“It wasn’t a hard transition because I was always a wrestling fan. My parents got a TV when I was 10 and within a few months, there wasn’t a piece of furniture in my living room that wasn’t f***ed up in some way. I grew up in Oregon and we got Don Owen’s Portland Wrestling and all my friends would gather on Saturday mornings to watch it. I loved it.”

On the experience of wrestling Bruno Sammartino in Madison Square Garden:
“I went to New York in October of 1976 and I did TV for 3 months to build me up and get me ready. My first match with Bruno in Madison Square Garden was on January 17, 1977. I had him on his hands and knees and I beat him like a red headed step child! “Please Mr. Patera! Please Mr. Patera! Don’t hurt me anymore!” (laughs) What I didn’t realize is that when I spoke to Bruno, he had followed me in weight lifting and knew all kinds of things about my history in weight lifting and we talked about that. I had followed him in wrestling and knew about his success in wrestling!”

On the WWE “Ken Patera Story” VHS tape being one of the first WWE tapes:
“Yeah, i was on the forefront. That thing was total bullsh-t. I remember filming things for that with “Mean” Gene Okerlund and he handed me a script and I read it. I said, “WHo is writing all of this bullsh-t?” He said, “Vince. It is all from his brain.” I was like, “I don’t talk like this. This isn’t how I act. He had me acting like a f***ing orangutan! I really didn’t feel comfortable doing it. But, I was just coming back (to WWE) and I didn’t really have any say.”

On wrestling Hulk Hogan in that time:
“I had seen Hulk Hogan’s first match in the WWF in 1980. I’ll never forget it. Allentown Fairgrounds. He had come up to me and said, “Hi, you’re Ken Patera.” I said, “Yes I am!” He told me he had wrestled in Florida and I watched his match. It was horrible! Just horrible! I was like, “God! Where did this f***ing bum come from!” But, he was just green. He had only been wrestling for maybe not even a year at that point. But, after a while, a short while, he started to get it… And, he followed the process! Everything you do in life, I don’t care if it is selling cars or being a brain surgeon, there is a process! If you don’t follow the process, you don’t make it! That is what life is all about. You don’t go off doing a bunch of hair-brained stuff or else you end up being a dumb f***! (laughs) You’ll never amount to sh-t! Look, I’m 80 years old. If I see someone that has potential, I’ll give them my advice. If I see someone who doesn’t have any potential, I’ll say “f*** them!” I won’t even waste my time! But, anyone who ever asks me for advice, 99% of the time, I’ll give it. But, life is a process. Follow the process and you’ll succeed at whatever you’re going to do in life.”

On any Andre the Giant stories he has:
“I wrestled Andre the Giant 600 times! Do you want to know how I know how many times I wrestled him? He told me! One time, in the WWF, a young guy came up to me and asked me if I ever wrestled that guy over there. He was pointing at Andre on the other side of the locker room. I said, “Andre? Yeah, a couple of hundred times.” Andre heard and shouted over, “600 times, boss!” He was right. Vern Gagne used to have Battle Royal season in October and in those battle royals, it usually came down to myself and Andre and we would wrestle a little bit before he threw me over the top rope. That is probably about 30 right there. But, between all the territories, all the way to the Mid Atlantic, Jim Crockett’s territory… Anyway, before I trail off. Yeah, we wrestled 600 times!”

On Andre teaching him to play cards:
“Andre and I would always place Cribbage. If we played 10 games, I would be lucky if I won 4. So, I asked him to teach me to get better so maybe we could make it a 50, 50 split and I could be more competitive.”

On the MacDonald’s incident:
“(laughs) Life and this interview are too short to talk about that situation here. But, I will tell you that if you get the book from, I do discuss it in detail.”

On if he ever wanted to return to pro wrestling during the Monday Night Wars:
“No. I had opened a gym and was very successful doing that. I still did tours. I did shows all over the world and had matches. But, I had other business interests so I didn’t want to wrestle anywhere full time.”

On running shows in the early 2000’s:
“People had paid me to put together some shows and I started to run events around Minnesota in the same types of places that the AWA would have run if it was still around. But, Vince McMahon had killed the perception of professional wrestling to where no one wanted to have anything to do with wrestling anymore. It had gone so far with vulgar stories, the women, and it was even seen as racist. So, that was the end of that.”

On not being in the WWE Hall of Fame:
“You said I was in the WWE Hall of Fame. I never said that. I’m actually not in there. Do I want to be in there? f*** no! Vince McMahon put that whole thing together. It doesn’t even have a building. Everyone knows who I am and what I’ve done. But, for him (Vince McMahon) to create a Hall of Fame and go, “Look what I created! Like what I did!” (laughs) It doesn’t matter to me. I’m in the Weigh t Lifting Hall of Fame. I’m in the St. Louis Hall of Fame. That means more to me than the WWE Hall of Fame because it was a part of the NWA which started back in the 1930’s. They inducted me 8 or 9 years ago. There’s not even 100 guys in that Hall of Fame.”

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