Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter
Speaking of Hollywood, one of the first days I was hosting the Today Show, John Cena and Vince McMahon happened to be guests. Of course, I'm huge fans of theirs, too, but I couldn't help but threaten John that Bob would one day come back to put him in the chicken wing! They both had great things to say about Bob but I'm sure they thought I was a little nuts, as people have thought Bob was a little nuts. But along with everything else Bob taught me, it's okay to be a little nuts.
I'm sure people thought Bob was more than a little nuts, when after an unprecedented 5 year run with the title, he refused to turn heel. He believed it would let down his fans which included many troubled youth who had looked up to him and in those days, it would have. In so doing he surrendered millions of dollars from the new age of rock and wrestling as well as the career he loved most.
Not only did Bob Backlund hold the title for almost 6 consecutive years – he did something perhaps even greater when he came back a decade later. He completely reinvented himself and his character. When you think of performers who've been able to successfully reinvent their characters, even in Hollywood, few names come to mind. Bob not only created an entire new persona he also went on to become wrestling's number one heel and regained his title in one of the most successful comebacks in sports entertainment history.
But most people know that. Like the greatest champions Bob Backlund carries himself with humility – which is why many of the facts I'm about to reveal are not known.
In a Pennsylvania match against Hulk Hogan, whom he pinned on several occasions, Bob Backlund picked Hulk up over his head with one arm. It's a feat Hulk, and his own late father, often reflected on in astonishment.
Bob Backlund has only been to the doctor twice since 1973.
Bob Backlund has never done a drug. As he says, and I quote, "I wouldn't know what to do with them."
Bob Backlund, within a three month span, won the NCAA wrestling championship and the National college football championship. He is perhaps the only man in history to hold that distinction.
In that championship football game, Bob Backlund recorded 22 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries. To give perspective, a team averages about 65 plays in an entire game.
Bob Backlund was a top shoot fighter, if not THE top shoot fighter, in the world of professional wrestling.
Bob Backlund intentionally NEVER squashed his opponents as he believed it would harm their future earnings.
Bob Backlund is in better condition than 99% of men... a third his age.
Bob Backlund has a diverse portfolio of stocks and real estate and has NEVER IN HIS LIFE PAID A DIME OF INTEREST!
Bob Backlund has a beautiful wife and daughter.
And at the end of the day, Bob Backlund justs want to help others in need.
Bob Backlund is simply one of, if not, THE greatest personal success stories for wrestlers, fans and people in general.
I know it wasn't always easy in your career, Bob. But, in the face of shortcomings and disappointments, you never gave up or succumbed like so many of us understandably would. Instead, you continued working out, educating yourself and, always, helping others and donating your time to charity. Through it all you kept your faith and your resolve and here you are on the greatest stage being honored by your greatest peers. I'm excited for tonight, your book being published and all the amazing things you remain to accomplish in your journey. And, I believe there's one more WWE run in that journey for you Bob, because 'When u believe you can do something, you can.'
Some know you as Bob Backlund. Others as Mr. Backlund. I just know you as my champion, my hero and my friend. Thank you to the WWE Universe for allowing me to welcome to the stage, Mr. Bob Backlund!
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