Pssssst. Keep this under your hat.
If what I'm about to tell you ever leaks, professional wrestling
will come apart like wet sushi. There won't be another wrestler's
autobiography on The New York Times best-seller list. Wrestling
will pull worse ratings than test patterns.
This is because I know the truth about America's bloodiest
wrestler, Goldberg, the half-man, half-Sasquatch who enjoys
head-butting doors and smashing folding chairs over the heads of
His mother, Ethel, is a classical violinist! His dad, Jed, is a
Harvard man and an esteemed obstetrician-gynecologist! They live
in South Florida, and you can only imagine the conversations
around the bridge table.
Phyllis: My son's a lawyer!
Gladys: My son's a doctor!
Ethel: My son bites the heads off chickens!
Not only that, but the big mook has a flower named after him!
Ethel not only played with the Chicago Symphony but also bred an
award-winning hybrid orchid that is so precious she named it
after a certain slobbering neckless grappler.
Sportscaster: Uh-oh. Here it comes! Looks like Goldberg's pulling
out the secret weapon!
Color analyst: Not the wrist corsage!
What's more, one of the world's biggest s.o.b.'s has a brother
who happens to be one of the country's biggest FOBs--Friends of
Bill. Brother Michael, who's in the cargo plane leasing business,
is a heavy donor to President Clinton and the Democratic party,
has spent a night at the White House and has had the President
over to his house in Aspen for fund-raisers. Goldberg has even
shaken Clinton's hand. A wrestler cozying up to a liberal? What's
a redneck supposed to do for a role model anymore?
Underneath, Goldberg is about as savage as instant pudding. Yeah,
as Bill Goldberg, he was an All-SEC defensive tackle at Georgia
and played that position for the Atlanta Falcons until his career
was ended by a torn abductor muscle, but the truth about him is
that he likes nothing better than a nice Merlot with a good
recipe to follow. He was raised on Bach. True, he's back
wrestling after losing a fight with a limousine window (196
stitches in his forearm) and recuperating for six months. Away
from the minicams he's about as violent as a button fair. He
addressed Congress to try to get cockfighting banned nationwide.
He's a national spokesperson for the Humane Society. I mean, the
guy has three cats! Sure, some other wrestlers have cats--but only
for between-meal snacks.
Here's something: Mr. Neanderthal has had the same girlfriend for
seven years. Not tied up, either! Oh, and he's Jewish. How many
Jewish wrestlers have you ever heard of? "I've never once tried
to hide my heritage," says Goldberg, who, believe it or not,
plans to visit Israel soon to accept the Tree of Life award, once
given to Henry Kissinger. "I'm proud of being Jewish."
Can't you just hear the chanting at the next
loser-shaves-head-and-leaves-town cage match?
Gold-berg! Oy! Gold-berg! Oy!
Of course, breaking the news to his parents that he wasn't going
to be the next Senator Moynihan or Dr. DeBakey wasn't easy. "When
I told my family I was going to be a pro wrestler [in 1997], they
all hated me," he recalls. "My brother wouldn't speak to me. My
mom screamed, and my dad said I was out of my mind."
These days you can hardly keep them outside the ropes. You
haven't lived until you've heard a retired, Harvard-educated
gynecologist screaming, "Tear off his femur, Bill, and beat him
When Ethel got up the courage to watch a match on TV, she took a
look at his caveman opponent and thought, I hope Bill doesn't
bring this young man home for dinner. Then pro wrestling started
to grow on her. "I was shocked at Bill's agility!" she says. "In
one of the first matches I watched, he did a backward somersault
in the ring!"
Now she won't sit anywhere but in the first two rows. "Some
people give me an attitude about it," Ethel says. "They say, 'How
could you let your son do that? Don't you have to be low-class to
be a wrestler?' But my son does wonderful things for people with
his wrestling. Children's hospitals. Make-A-Wish. The animals.
No, he's not a doctor, but I'll tell you something: He makes 10
times what a doctor makes!"
Hey, Ethel, it could be worse. He could've become a governor.
COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA
"I'll tell you something," says Goldberg's mother, Ethel. "He
makes 10 times what a doctor makes!"