Booker T. Hoffman wanted to be man of the people. He wanted wrestling fans to like him and accept him. As he rose up to new heights in the world of wrestling fans made sure that they were there to support him. Booker T will always cherish those fans.
Booker T, who is a 2013 WWE Hall of Famer and winner of 35 championship titles within WWE, WCW, and TNA, has once again paired up with best-selling writer Andrew William Wright to uncover Booker T’s story from his humble pro wrestling beginnings to becoming a global superstar and icon. “Booker T: My Rise to Wrestling Royalty” chronicles two turbulent and hard-hitting decades with Booker T as he journeyed through World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
During this time Booker T blazed a trail of pro wrestling success on a road that took him from his tag team days in Harlem Heat, to his unparalleled singles career that drew millions around the world to WCW’s Monday Nitro, and onward through his unforgettable matches that led to him taking the throne as King Booker and becoming the World Heavyweight Champion.
Art Eddy: Let’s first talk about your new book “My Rise to Wrestling Royalty.” This is your second book. What did you want to make sure that you told your fans in this book that you might have left out or didn’t go into full detail about your career in your previous book?
Booker T: The first book was just my life story. I didn’t want to cross the stories up. With my first book I wanted to take a step back and show what my life was before wrestling. My second book is just chronicling my years in the wrestling business as well as my 35 championships along the way.
I lost some soldiers along the way and I wanted to make sure I touched on those guys and put them in a good light. Most of the time those guys left with a light that was pretty much dimmed. A lot of the times you don’t hear about the good stuff. So I wanted to make sure that I respected and represented the book properly. I didn’t want it to be a dirt cheap book and tell stories about other guys. I felt like if they wanted to talk about it they would put out a book themselves. I just wanted it to be a little different as well as having some class in this book called “My Rise to Wrestling Royalty.”
AE: When fans read this book will they discover some new things about you and your career?
BT: Oh yeah. Just like my first book I am totally open. I am not going to go out and just shut down. It is not going to be a dirt cheap book. It is not going to be a tell-all book about who was sleeping with who. (Both laugh.) There are not going to be any backstage stories. It is not going to expose the business. That is something that I am not into.
It is going to be as real as it can possible be. I have gotten nothing but good feedback. I have gotten really good reviews. I am not bashing or trashing anyone in my book. Not even Batista. People of course heard stories about Batista and I, but I wanted to write that story to where it had some class. I didn’t want it to look like an angry black man. (Both laugh.) So I wanted to make it real as I possibly could.
AE: Was this book a bit easier to write since you had done one before and now know what the process of writing a book is like?
BT: No, it was actually much harder. To go back and have to fact check everything took some time. Fans can now go back themselves and check the facts. You got to make everything totally right. My first book was really so easy because it was just my story. It was my life. This book here has so many turns. It follows so many genres. It has so many different opponents. It covers so many years in the business with three different companies. It was a lot of painstaking time up at night. I was going back to make sure each story was right. I think I read the book four times. It was a long process.
AE: You have won the World Heavyweight Championship many times. Was the first the one the sweetest?
BT: That is a really hard question. I never really rated my career and championships. Of course when I won the World Heavyweight Championship it was a dream that I never had. I never thought of winning that title. I never thought it was something that would happen for me in WCW. That was a company in the South. Everybody knows how hard it is for a black man to come up in wrestling in general.
I never thought it happened. So when it happened for me it solidified everything that I was wondering. I was wondering if fans would accept me in that position. They did. When I won they celebrated for me. They cheered for me and celebrated like it was Mardi Gras. (Both laugh.) That just solidified it for me. In my career it seemed like championships followed me. From day one it is all due to the fans. It was the people and fans cheering for me. They let the company see that maybe this is a guy that you should run with. I am appreciative that they looked at me that way in the WCW.
AE: How cool is it when fans are cheering your name when you are in the ring?
BT: Walking out in WrestleMania to have thousands of people behind you. They are cheering for you. They want you to do well. It is a great motivator. I have always looked at myself as the people’s champ. They always gave it back to me. That part right there is like the sixth man in basketball. The guy that comes off the bench to rally the team. We are tied up in the game with a few minutes left to go in the game. That is what the fans pretty much did for me.
It made me want to go out there and perform at a high level. That is what wrestling for me was all about. It was the performance. To go out and make the fans say, ‘Wow! I can’t wait to go back and see Booker T again. I try to talk to my young guys about that. It is really not about the wrestling. The wrestling is something that MMA goes out to do. Boxers go out to do that. Wrestlers are performers. We are entertainers. That is what we go out and do.
AE: Tell me a bit about your Booker T. Fights For Kids Foundation.
BT: Every year I am working with kids and speaking to them. My wife and I started up the foundation. We have a scholarship program. We give a few one thousand dollar scholarships a year to show that we are in the community and trying to give back.
A lot of the times for the foundation it is me going out to do the work. I am telling them my story and showing them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. From different schools I would get personal letters from kids and teachers about how I touched them by speaking to them. That is what the foundation is all about. It is about touching someone’s life and changing their life. Hopefully letting them see that they are worth something. A lot of the kids can’t find themselves. They think that they are worth nothing. I think we just try to motivate them and give them a different perspective.
BT: To respect people. That is what my mother taught me. Say please and thank you. Say yes ma’am and no sir. Those things get you far in life. Education, which is something that I fought against coming up. I was a pretty smart kid. I just didn’t like sitting in that forum I guess.
My four year old daughter was reading a book last night. The book was on a nine year old level. It is unbelievable how she refuses to not get a word wrong. I just try to teach them that their dad loves them. He will work his butt off for them and provide for them. Get them everything that they need. Hopefully my son can learn that and treat his wife like a queen, the way I treat mine. I want my daughter to be treated like a princess when she gets married. I want her to have a great example of what a man really is. I think one of the biggest problems in America today is a dad not being there to nurture their kids. Being that role model for that kid so that kid doesn’t have to go outside to find a role model that isn’t the greatest.
I try to teach my kids the very simple things in life. Tell them to treat people right, live life, and make a lot of money to live well.
AE: What are some of the traits that your kids get from you?
BT: They get a lot of stuff from me. My son laughs and laughs. It is amazing to see how a four year old is so receptive to what life is and wants to have fun. My baby girl she loves to wrestle. She loves watching me on television. She loves my spinaroonie. She says that she is going to be attached to me for the rest of her life.
So they get some traits from me. I don’t want to be one of those people who aren’t laughing before they leave this Earth. I want to be laughing. That is why I am not an angry person. I am 50 years old and I think I have one gray hair. Knock on wood I hope it stays that way for another ten years. It is just about living life, having fun, and smiling every day. Life is not easy. Life is the hardest thing that as human beings we go through. That’s what I try to teach them.
AE: What advice do you have for new dads out there?
BT: You got to put the work in and be there. It is such a hard job raising a little one for a mom. With my wife we go two of them. People will look at me and say Booker T you are a big star and commentator and Hall of Famer. Yet I get up and wash the dishes. I clean the house. I will make sure that I vacuum. I cook.
I take that pressure off of her. I can see it in her eyes that she is so tired from putting all those hours in with teaching, nurturing, loving, and every other thing. So I say to those new dads that you got to step up and do your part. That means taking out the trash. That means doing all the dirty work. Otherwise if she is not happy than nobody is happy. (Both laugh.)
Life of Dad Quick Five
AE: What is your favorite family movie you guys like to watch together?
BT: My kids are at that age where we don’t have any just yet. I do wake up and have to shut off every TV from different TV shows that they might watch.
AE: Do you guys have a favorite song that you all like to sing and dance to as a family?
BT: We are not at that stage either, but my son is just like me. He makes up songs. The song can be like, ‘Daddy is stinky.’ (Both laugh.) It is just stupid songs. He is just like me. We just have fun.
AE: Describe the perfect family vacation.
BT: When I go on vacation everybody goes. Me, my wife, my kids, my mom, mother in law and the whole family. We like going to Turks and Caicos.
AE: Did you have a few guys that you liked to compete against more than others in the ring?
AE: When you were growing up who was your favorite wrestler?
BT: JYD (Junkyard Dog) was my favorite growing up. He was the only black guy out there that was beating up white guys. (Both laugh.) No offense. You had the song “Another Bites the Dust.” He had the white tights. He had the white boots. He was just a bad ass.
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