George “The Animal” Steele Says He Contemplated Suicide, Talks Bruno Sammartino
WWF Hall of Famer and actor “George ‘The Animal’ Steele” joined Kayfabe Wrestling Radio Tuesday night for a nearly 30 minute interview where he discussed his new autobiography and how he came to the decision to do one, his struggles with dyslexia and how he ‘conquered’ it, his time at Michigan State, his opinion on Bruno Sammartino being inducted into the Hall of Fame, if there should be a brick and mortar Hall of Fame building and what he might like for his exhibit, what it was like wrestling someone like Andre the Giant, being an agent during the infamous Andre/Ultimate Warrior match, battling Crohn’s disease and possibly considering suicide, who he personally think were some of his greatest rivals, what was harder: being a high school coach or being a WWE road agent in the 80’s or 90’s and much more. Highlights from the interview are as follows.
His upcoming autobiography and how he came to that decision: “I’ll tell you exactly what happened; I wanted to write the book about 17 years ago, but it just wasn’t right or ready yet. There was a lot more to add to the story and I didn’t realize that; I think God was in control and just held me back, held me back and then I saw so many other books being written and I felt like the market was really flooded. So, it was too late. And then, when some other things started to happen here late, I thought ‘Hey, the door’s open’, so that’s kind of how it happened.”
His opinion on long-time rival Bruno Sammartino going into the WWE Hall of Fame: “Well, as soon as Bruno had agreed to go into the Hall, I had a ton of magazines and people calling me and asking me what my thought was. First of all, I respect, 100 percent, his decision; I respected his decision when he decided not to go in and when he chose to go in, I respect that also. I don’t know what was going on in the WWE at that time, you know, with the mindset. I know they were reaching out big time; I don’t know if it was reaching from Bruno or from the fans or from the Hall itself, sometimes that how thing work in the wrestling business. So, you know, to me it just doesn’t matter; it doesn’t matter. The fans who wanted Bruno in are very happy with it, the WWE I think needed him in to make it a real Hall of Fame, and so therefore, since I’m in the Hall of Fame, I’m glad it’s real, finally.”
What it was like wrestling someone like Andre the Giant: “He could take a slam, believe me; he could help you do it. He called “slam” with me and I reached in like I was going to slam him and he was ready to try and go; I dropped down to my knees and sold my back and he looked down and kind of laughed and he said “You get it.”
Battling Crohn’s Disease and at one time, considering suicide: “Well, it attacks you anywhere from your liver down to anus; your total digestive system. You’re totally out of control, constant diarrhea and whatever else goes along with it. On the morning I was ready to bow out, I had pain in every possible joint in my body; even my cheeks and my face was hurting. I was in totally pain and I thought, if I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life, I just don’t need it. So, I went out ready to do the thing; at the last minute I had sleeping pills and had the car all set up and was ready to go; just drifting off to sleep, I was listening to country music and I hit the steering wheel and said “Bullcrap! I’m tougher than this!” And I’m not sure if that’s me again or I think it was God reaching out giving me another shot. But, it was pretty close.”
To listen to this episode, click here.