Big Dawg's a UFC graduate
By BOB KAPUR
-- For SLAM! Wrestling
Geza 'Big Dawg' Kalman Jr.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has sometimes been referred to as the
ugly cousin to professional wrestling. Detractors of the UFC consider it
too violent, with real punches and kicks being thrown, as opposed to the
simulated violence in a wrestling ring. Even wrestling fans have generally
shied away from the UFC, preferring characters with specialty moves and
gimmicks over the traditional martial-arts, shoot style which drives
However, there have been some notable cross-over stars, guys who have come
from the ranks of the UFC and had successful pro wrestling careers, the
most notable examples being Ken Shamrock
, Tank Abbott, and Dan Severn
Currently, another former UFC competitor is making his name known on the
Canadian indpendent wrestling scene. Geza 'Big Dawg' Kalman Jr. was
involved in no-holds barred fighting for close to three years before
heading to the squared circle. He recently sat down with SLAM! Wrestling
at last month's Border City Wrestling debut show in Barrie, to discuss his
UFC stint and his current career in sports entertainment.
Unlike most of the UFC roster, the Cambridge, Ontario-born Kalman never had any formal martial arts
training. "I actually trained as a pro wrestler first. I was training at
[Dean] Malenko's school, and my roommate was taking shoot-wrestling classes there on Sundays. Sometimes I'd stick around and practice moves with him. That was my real introduction to the shoot wrestling stuff."
After finishing his training, Kalman worked for various promotions, mainly
in Ohio and Michigan, the home-state of Dan Severn. "I did a show, and Dan
had just finished UFC 4. I knew he needed someone to train with, I'd heared
that he had no training partner. I called him up, hooked up with him, and
trained with him for two years." Still, Kalman wasn't sure that the UFC
was the career path for him.
Geza 'Big Dawg' Kalman Jr.
"My only intention at the time was to learn a few shoot moves to
incorporate into my street-kid gimmick at the time." Five months after
starting training with Severn, he was offered a chance to fight on a UFC
show. "They said that they'd pay, and I said that I'd do it."
During his time in the UFC, 'Big Dawg' achieved a 50% win-loss record,
one he's proud of, considering his lack of formal training, either in
martial arts or boxing, the cornerstones of the sport. He left after ten
fights, having just grown tired of it, and went back to wrestling.
"The transition was tough at the time. The UFC was nowhere near as popular
back then as it is now. No-one wanted to book you because you were a
shooter, and normally when you're a shooter, you can't work, or you work
too stiff. So only people who knew I had a background from Malenko's would
Howver, when other former UFC stars became household names in pro
wrestling, Kalman saw his background turn into an advantage. "Bookers want
me now because of that credential, that reputation. It's a legitimate
sport, people can research it, and it becomes a draw. As a bonus, if they
do book me, they can see that I can work, and I'm not just a shooter."
When discussing his goals in wrestling, the 6'0", 267-pound Kalman is optimistic yet realistic
given the environment of the industry. "At first, it was like everyone
else. You want to be on TV full-time, want to make the big money. Right
now, I don't think it's possible to have big goals in the independents
right now. Moving to the WWF isn't possible right now, they're too full.
People say, go to Japan. Well, all the guys who didn't make it into New
York, they're all in Japan right now. There's just no room to go anywhere."
"Long term, I hope to still be young enough that when the doors do open up,
I can get in there."
Of course, if things don't work out, Kalman is always open to the
possibility of going back to the UFC. "It would take me about six months
to get back into shape. They've changed it a bit, adding rounds, so
there's a lot of stand-up fighting to it now which I don't do. I think,
with the evolution of the sport, there's a lot of room for crossing over
the other way. It's adding characters now and personalities, it's not only
about the fighting skill. It's a lot like wrestling now, so I think I
could go back if I wanted.
"But for now, I just want to have fun and enjoy myself. Ontario has been
good to me, but I would like to get out and wrestle across Canada. There
are a lot of promotions I'd like to check out."
Any promotions interested in booking former UFC competitor Geza 'Big Dawg'
Kalman Jr., can contact him at email@example.com. Kalman is scheduled to
appear at the November 27 Border City Wrestling show in Oldcastle, Ontario.