An Evening with Hacksaw Jim Duggan

Storytelling | Q & A | Meet & Greet with WWE Hall of Famer

Ticket Information

$23 | General Admission

Spend an evening with WWE Hall of Famer Hacksaw Jim Duggan and hear stories of 30 years of professional wrestling. Hacksaw will take questions from the audicence and provide an opportunity to meet everyone in attendance.

He played the role of an all-American patriot. coming to the ring waving the US flag and holding a 2x4 piece of plywood.

Duggan also wrestled for the WCW organization and was crowned US heavyweight champion in 1994.

He returned to what became WWE in 2005, fighting there for four years before moving to the independent circuit.

He will go down in history for being the first ever winner of the legendary Royal Rumble.

He wasn't always "Hacksaw."

When he started on the pro-wrestling circuit they called him "Big Jim" Duggan, but it never really stuck. "Then I wore a mask and I wrestled as a convict and that didn't work. And then I tried a fur and I was 'Wild Man Duggan' and that didn't work," he recalled.

"So I finally evolved into 'Hacksaw.'"

His signature two-by-four, Duggan said, was a prop born out of necessity. In his early wrestling days, rowdy spectators with something to prove brutalized the performers, hoping to show off their own feats of strength. Duggan told CBC Radio he once broke his signature two-by-four on Andre the Giant.

"Getting back and forth from the ring was very dangerous, you know, the people would spit on you and punch at you and kick you," he said. "I'm sitting back in the dressing room, all covered with loogies and bruises and my mentor, 'Bruiser' Brody, he looks at me and he says, 'Duggan…if you carry something to the ring, carry something you can use.'"

Strutting through the crowd, lumber in hand, Duggan's fortunes quickly changed. "It was like parting the Red Sea," he laughed.

Professional wrestling was massively popular in the 1980s, with prime-time events, music videos, action figures, peanut butter jars, and tons of other promotional tie-ins.

In the years before drug testing, the industry's stars had more in common with hardy partying musicians than athletes, Duggan said.

"Our generation of guys, we were more like a rock 'n' roll band," he said. "There's women, there's drugs, there's booze.  A lot of guys get caught up in that lifestyle."

In 1987, Duggan was ticketed for drinking and driving, as well as marijuana possession, which he described as a "huge shot to my career. 'Duggan admits he indulged, but said he never became addicted to drugs or alcohol.

"We have a high drug and alcoholism rate, a high divorce rate, and a high death rate. It's a tough racket," he said of the profession.

Despite those trends, Duggan himself has been married more than 30 years. What sets their relationship apart from others in the wrestling world is trust, said his wife Debra Duggan.

"You've got to trust your husband," she said, "that he's going to come back home to you."

Family came into sharp focus in 1998, when Duggan was diagnosed with kidney cancer. "I had two young girls, I was devastated. I spent the time before my surgery in their room crying and praying. I just wanted to survive the ordeal. I didn't care about wrestling," he said.

"A health issue puts everything else in perspective."

Now 65, Duggan is in good health, touring the world and wrestling again. His two daughters are grown, and his wife Debra travels with him. It's a life the wrestler says he is grateful for. .

"It's humbling that folks remember you this well, 30-plus years after your heyday."