Remember Nikolai Volkoff, the “Soviet” wrestler everyone loved to hate? Well turns out he was actually from the former Yugoslavia. And he’s most recently been spotted following in the footsteps of greats such as Jesse “the Body” Ventura, Antonio Inoki, the Great Sasuke, and Hulk Hogan (ran for president of course) and run for office. But this time, his opponents seem to be playing the role of the heel. The Washington City Paper has a great story on it. Highlights:
(Reacting to leaflets distributed claiming he used to spit on the American flag in his wrestling persona) “Spitting on a flag, that’s cheap heat,” he says. “I was a professional. I didn’t work for cheap heat.”
Volkoff truly believes that the anti-Commie mood he helped foment in the West through his un-American activities in the ring hastened the fall of the Wall.
(Opponents) Impallaria and McDonough both deny any connection to the fliers. But they don’t mind echoing the message.
“He was the Tokyo Rose of the 1980s,” says Impallaria. “He made his living spitting on the American flag and singing the Russian national anthem. Now he can say he was just doing a job. Tokyo Rose was just doing a job, too.”
Adds McDonough: “He did spit on the flag. I consider that reprehensible. Anybody can run for office. You can’t go around saying your wrestling career doesn’t matter. Volkoff isn’t even the name on his birth certificate. People need to know everything.”
As any good wrestler would when given a platform, Volkoff leveled some smack of his own at his antagonists. “Impallaria—that guy has 27 arrests,” he says. “How do you get arrested that much?”
Asked to respond to Volkoff’s blast, Impallaria says, “A lot of people are charged with a lot of things, but the real question is: Have you ever been convicted of anything?”
OK, OK, OK. Have you ever been convicted of anything?
“Anybody can look that up,” Impallaria says, declining to answer “the real question” any further. “I’m going to stick to the issues. I’m not going to lower myself to dirty politics.”
The Republican primary will be held in September. Vineberg says that despite his adversaries’ tactics, Volkoff has no intention of hiding his wrestling past as the campaign progresses. In fact, the press secretary has been contacting former ring colleagues to ask them to come to Maryland.
“We’ve been talking to the Iron Sheik,” says Vineberg. “Nikolai and the Sheik made a great tag team. America really hated them. I’m sure he’ll be up here to help.”
What is it about wrestlers that makes them such appealing political candidates in Japan and the US? Is it their masculinity? Giant authoritative boots (If so, Condee Rice might be considering running for office!)?
Perhaps it’s easy for the wrestlers to adapt to the campaigning process’s similarities to the carnival sideshow aspects of pro wrestling. I mean, pro wrestling and politics have a lot in common – head to head confrontation, tag teams, battle royales (battles royale?), playing to the crowd, constant touring, factionism. One difference – the winners aren’t decided beforehand in politics (we hope).
I wonder – do pro wrestlers enter politics in Mexico? The most famous luchador of all, El Santo, seems not to have made that career decision. Have there been any politicians from the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling?