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Muscle & Fitness: The rumor is that, when you made Predator with Arnold, you had bigger arms than he did.
Jesse Ventura: Technically, I may have. But I’m 6’4” and at the time weighed 265. Arnold weighed in at about 2 and a quarter. Mine probably were bigger but his looked bigger because mine didn’t have the shape and form that his did. I asked the wardrobe lady what size shirt Arnold got and she told me mine was bigger.
In the 70s and 80s, you did some bodyguarding as well.
In 1980 I had to get knee surgery from wrestling so I was out for a while. I bodyguarded in Minneapolis. Every band that came to town I bodyguarded for them. That was the days of open seating. People were packed in like sardines—it was crazy. The easiest band to do was the Grateful Dead. Their fans were all dancing and they all knew each other!
Do you remember an incident when a crazy fan got out of line?
That would happen all the time. One kid was punching another kid and when he cranked his arm back he elbowed a girl in the head. I was behind him. I curled my hands into his long hair and deadlifted him out of there. I was deadlifting over 600 pounds then. He got pulled out by the hair and I slapped him down on the floor like a salmon. He got up with fists clenched like he was going to kick the shit out of me. I was 6’4”, 265, bleach blond hair, “Jesse The Body”, and I looked at him and said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, son.” His hands unclenched and he said ok and we kicked him out.
You made a huge splash in movies like Predator and Running Man. It’s a surprise to fans that we never saw you in movies of your own.
I didn’t want my kids to grow up in Los Angeles. So I stayed in Minnesota. Hollywood is very out of sight, out of mind. Because I didn’t live out there, I’m sure I lost a lot of roles. I’m sure it hurt my career but I don’t regret it.
Is it true that before you became governor, you also worked as a high school football strength coach?
That’s true. My son went to Champlin Park High School. He wasn’t an athlete and didn’t play but I felt that because schools always need help I would offer my expertise. I volunteered and was not paid and I was the conditioning coach. I ran it just like Navy SEAL BUD’s training. I was about 45 at the time. I used to take the kids on runs and some of them told me later that they ran into the bushes and puked. But they didn’t want to do it in front of me. I would take them out to this storm-water retention pond and have them wade through waist-deep water. Then they’d do pushups with their faces in the water all day long. I grew them as a team and taught them to rely on each other. By the end of the year every kid on the team could do at least one pullup.
You always played a bad guy in your wrestling but you stand up for the little guy in politics. How were you able to be so believable as a villain?
It’s in my nature, I guess. I’m rebellious. When I’m in Mexico, they call me “Che,” after Che Guevara.
You’ve criticized the media for chasing ratings rather than reporting facts. Where do you turn for reliable information?
Al Jazeera is more honest. They go out into the streets of these countries and show what’s really happening. The Internet has to be taken with a grain of salt. There’s no regulation. Mainstream media today is strictly in the entertainment business.
Congress has been deadlocked for years now. Is there any way we can get these politicians to work together and do their jobs?
Stop electing them. It’s as simple as that.
You’ve been open about your stance that marijuana should be de-criminalized. Where do you stand on anabolic steroids?
I think they should not be legalized because I’ve seen too many cases of roid rage. I’ve never seen that with marijuana. In fact, with marijuana, if you give the person smoking it a Jimi Hendrix tape they probably won’t bother you at all. Steroids are also detrimental to your health more than marijuana. There’s a generation of heavy steroid users in pro wrestling that are now dying. I only took testosterone in little amounts. I was never a big steroid user so my long-term health hasn’t been hurt by them.
Is there a chance we’ll see you run for president in 2016?
It’s up to the public. I have to see proof that it’s worth it to put myself on the line again. I don’t enjoy being around Democrats and Republicans.
This has been mind-blowing. Thank you for your time.
Well, thank you for your magazine. I’ve been reading it for many years and it was very much a bible for us back in the days of eating raw eggs and pumping iron.