Big, Not So Bad, Bill Goldberg
The man who made his name as a Jewish pro wrestler talks about his recent religious awakening
BY: John D. Spalding
Bill Goldberg is one of professional wrestling’s biggest superstars, a bruising, spandex-wearing headliner on par with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. To his thousands of fans and the press, Goldberg, as he’s called in the ring, is also known as "the Jewish Wrestler." Two years ago, The Washington Post dubbed the bald giant "a David in Goliath’s shoes"--"a hulking (6 feet 4, 285 pounds), neckless, ripping son of Jacob."
After an injury ended his football career as a lineman with the Los Angeles Rams and the Atlanta Falcons in 1994, Goldberg joined World Championship Wrestling. Within 18 months, he shot to the top with a 176-0 record, eventually beating Hulk Hogan for the WCW title. Goldberg became a star attraction, the reason kids tuned into TNT’s "Monday Nitro."
Sidelined by contract negotiations since the World Wrestling Federation bought out the WCW in March, Goldberg is looking for a suitable movie role. Though he has written a book, "I’m Next: The Strange Journey of America’s Most Unlikely Superhero," he has recently refused to talk to the media. In this exclusive interview, Goldberg breaks his silence to talk to Beliefnet about religion and his status as a Jewish athlete and role model.
Your father characterized you as a “professional wrestler who happens also to be Jewish.” But you deliberately chose to make your Jewishness central to your wrestling identity.
It was a business decision first, in the sense that
In your book, your father, a Harvard-educated doctor, says, “‘Jewish wrestler’ is as oxymoronic as ‘fresh frozen jumbo shrimp.’” How did a nice Jewish boy like you wind up in professional wrestling?
Well, nine times out of ten people consider a nice little Jewish boy the kid who grows up and sits behind a desk preparing your taxes. I’ve certainly broken that stereotype in many ways. But let’s be honest--you have to question the sanity of anybody who enters professional wrestling, not just nice little Jewish boys like me. It’s a grueling job.
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