Wrestling’s First Royal Rumble Was Won by an Upstate New Yorker
You don't have to be a huge wrestling nerd to know what WWE's Royal Rumble is-- it's arguably the second-most popular wrestling event behind WrestleMania. What you may not know is that the inaugural 1988 event was won by an Upstate New Yorker: wrestling legend and Glens Falls native "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan.
One of the more popular superstars of the '80s and '90s, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is known for carrying a piece of 2x4 lumber and an American flag. He was also known for his war cry of "HOOOOOOOO!" and for randomly instigating the crowd to chant "USA! USA," much to the chagrin of the international opponents he was often paired with.
Duggan grew up in Glens Falls, New York and attended Glens Falls High School. He was a star athlete and excelled at various sports. He still holds the record for longest shot put in school history, a feat unbroken since 1973.
The Royal Rumble match itself is a unique one. It consists of 30 wrestlers coming out at random in 2-minute intervals. Wrestlers are eliminated by being thrown over the top rope, and the one left standing after all 30 have entered wins. Fans often don't know the complete list of wrestlers in the match, and WWE often throws in a few surprise entrances. Duggan was a surprise entrant in the 2009 match, where he competed at the age of 58. That year, he did not win.
The 2022 Royal Rumble will be held on January 29th, but an appearance by Duggan is unlikely. He is currently recovering from his second bout of cancer in Lugoff, South Carolina, where he now lives.
Are you a wrestling fan?! Check out these strange pieces of pro wrestling memorabilia being sold in New York: