The book “Animal” is about the unique life of Jim Myers, who is also known as George The Animal Steele to millions of professional wrestling fans. The book Animal will be on the stands this summer.
As George The Animal Steele, I was a drooling, monosyllabic presence in the ring.
As Jim Myers, I was a high school teacher and coach in Madison Heights, Michigan with a masters degree.
Some of my toughest battles were outside of the ring. I suffered with dyslexia when, as a school-age child, nobody knew exactly what that learning disability was. I grew up in era when people were simply smart or dumb, and I was not winning many spelling bees or math contests.
Thoroughly frustrated in the classroom, my only positive outlets in school were sports and fights, and I relished each equally. I was a good enough athlete to earn a football scholarship to Michigan State University. After graduation, wrestling came into my life by happenstance; I was making $4,300 teaching and coaching and my wife Pat and I already had two young children with another on the way. We simply needed more money.
It was quite a part-time job. I eventually became one of the biggest stars in the business, wrestling the likes of Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant and Randy Savage. That’s when my toughest opponent came along. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and it nearly killed me. They blew Taps in my direction a couple of times but I am still alive and well and thanking the Lord on a daily basis.
Some funny stories.
I was wrestling at the Mecca MSG in the late 70s. The ringside fans were really getting on THE ANIMAL’s case. I dove through the ropes and was on the floor like I was going after all those New Yorkers. Boy did those tough New Yorkers scatter. That is all but this one second row gal that was standing on her chair. She fainted and some fans caught her as she was falling backward. Once more I was back in the ring with my face in the turnbuckle laughing.
I was wrestling a TV match in the old Philadelphia Arena in the early 70’s and it was one of those wild nights. Pantsuits were in style for the ladies. There was a very large well dressed black woman at ringside. She was wearing a purple metallic pantsuit and was getting all over THE ANIMALS case. THE ANIMAL acted like he was going through the ropes after her. THE ANIMAL stepped half way through the ropes and yelled YOU. The crouch area of the nice pantsuit started turning colors. The purple pantsuit was turning a dark purple. THE ANIMAL quickly realized the the well dressed large black lady had just pissed herself. THE ANIMAL was on camera and had to think quick. THE ANIMAL did not want to get caught on camera laughing in a wild match so I put my face in a turnbuckle pad and started gnawing.
Some wrestler would argue with a fan in the front row. I would go 15 rows deep to argue with someone who was heckling The Animal. I loved to watch the fans scatter from the Fear Factor. I was known to chase people completely out of the building.
The next Boston Garden show was October 4, 1969 and George Steele was booked to wrestle Walter Killer Kowalski. Before this match took place the old master Walter Killer Kowalski called me a side and said lets not fight for the heat out there tonight. Walter said “if the fans favor you George just lay back a little and I will be the heel and if the fans favor The Killer I will lay back just a little and George Steele will be the heel”. Walter said “there is no sense in us fighting for the heat”.
It was unbelievable The killer went out first and the Boston fans went wild cheering Walter Killer Kowalski it was like a Bruno Sammartino entrance. When George Steele the fans went crazy the heat was there. This match turned into a war. We fought in the ring, out of the ring through the crowd all the way up to the balcony. We had a thirty-five minute war. We were both counted out but we continued fight all of the way back to the locker the fans loved it. A return match to be fought in the cage was announced immediately following our match and the Boston Gardens erupted.