Piper preaches politics: Go vote!
By GREG OLIVER --
Rowdy Roddy Piper's days of wrestling are pretty well done after 31
years. An artificial titanium hip, lack of a rotator cuff, and other
small physical problems have slowed the former 'Hot Rod'.
Roddy Piper. -- Greg Oliver, CANOE
But it hasn't slowed his mouth down any, and now Piper has turned his
oratory skills to preaching about politics, and wants to do what he can
to get his fellow Canadians out and vote.
Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan 46 years ago, Piper is quick to admit
that he has no answers to the ills of the country, like the weak
Canadian dollar, high gas prices and immigration. But he feels a need to
"What can I contribute to my country? What can I do for this nation?
What can I tell them? Get out and vote!" he told SLAM! Wrestling in an
exclusive two-hour sit-down interview in Toronto.
Dressed casually in jeans, t-shirt and a black leather jacket with black
gloves, Piper dismissed a recent Internet campaign to tout The Rowdy One
for the top job in Canada. "Forget Piper for Prime Minister. If you want
to say that, fine, but I ain't gonna be it. I'm not going to insult your
intelligence. But I do have the power to make people move."
During the interview, Piper's Canadian political knowledge proved to be
sketchy, at best. He couldn't name the big five federal parties running
in next week's election or what the campaign issues are. But what he may
lack in understanding of the political scene, he makes up for with
enthusiasm. And as his campaign continues over the coming week, his
comprehension will undoubtedly improve.
These days, Piper lives in an Oregon mountain retreat with his wife of
22 years, Kitty, and their six children. It's the only permanent home
that he has ever known, having been on the road for wrestling for
seemingly forever. He has been trying to convince his family to move to
Vancouver, where the movie and television work is plentiful.
As a child, Piper - then known as Roderick Toombs - lived in many places
across Canada. "I lived in a different town every year of my life until
I was 13," he said. "We moved all the time. I was always the new kid on
the block. I was always getting beaten up."
His father worked for the Canadian National Railroad as a police
officer, and as a result, the family moved often. Among some of the
locations he lived until getting into wrestling at 15 were Dauphin and
The Pas, Manitoba, Dawson Creek, B.C., Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay),
Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal , plus stints abroad in Glasgow,
Scotland and Melbourne, Australia.
He said that his upbringing was Conservative, and that he met Prime
Minister John Diefenbaker when he was about five years old.
After leaving home at 13, Piper drifted, getting into trouble and not
settling down until his first professional wrestling bout in Winnipeg
against Larry 'The Axe' Hennig. Piper recalled that the match was pretty
short, and that he was soundly defeated by The Axe, who outweighed him
by 150 pounds. The Piper surname came about because the ring announcer
couldn't remember his actual last name, and Roddy was playing the
bagpipes on his way to the ring, a skill he had been practicing since
His wrestling career was slow to take off, but by the early '80s, he was
one of the biggest names in the sport. When the WWF held the first
WrestleMania in Madison Square Gardens in 1985, he was an international
superstar, the Lex Luthor to Hulk Hogan's Superman; the villain that
kicked singer Cyndi Lauper and mocked actor Mr. T.
Besides his political preaching, Piper is in Toronto this week on
business, including work on his autobiography called 'If You're Going To
Die Kid, Die In The Ring, It's Good For Business.'
"It's not a title I made up," Piper said. What is the book about? "It's
a book like no other book you're going to see. It's going to talk about
the sickness. It's going to talk about manipulation. It's going to talk
about how promoters manipulate."
So while Piper may not have much experience with national politics, he
learned the tough way of the backstage politics that plague pro
wrestling. He was blackballed twice by promoters who tried to keep him
down, and now that he is not contractually bound any longer to World
Championship Wrestling, he plans to organize a union for wrestlers. "I'm
going to start a union now because they can't hurt me."
If nothing else, Piper hopes that his media run across the country over
the next little while will boost the patriotic spirit in Canadians. For
him, it seems to be liberating to talk about his life in Canada, and
what it means to him after years and years as being billed by promoters
as coming from Scotland. "I want to jump up and put the Canadian flag
all over me and say, 'Get up, get up! Be proud, make a noise, be
As someone who has travelled the world, Piper knows where things stand.
"Canadians are very well-liked people around the world, yet you come
back here [to Canada] and the pride, it's almost like they don't allow