Steve Rackman

Interview: Steve "Crusher" Rackman - Wrestling Legend

Interview: Steve Rackman, Actor, Gym Operator, and Australian Wrestling Legend -
25th May 2003

Greg Tingle sits down with Steve Rackman at Beach Fitness Gym at Coogee Beach, Sydney, Australia, and discussed wrestling, fitness acting and the media business.

Steve "Crusher" Rackman is a true legend of the Australian and international wrestling business, wrestled the late, great Andre The Giant (in a cage), appeared in all 3 Crocodile Dundee movies, 40 feature films and over 30 advertisements in Australia and aboard.

Today he runs a gym with Body Building legends, Paul and Caroline Graham, and is comfortably semi-retired.

What's your background?

Well, I was in England in 1964 doing weight training, boxing and so on, and doing some bouncing at some bars in the rough part of town around So Ho, when I was 22. I was into weights at an early age. I then got into boxing and started working the doors at the most notorious clubs in England. A few of the fellas said I looked like a young, strong, big fella, and that I might like to join them for wrestling lessons. Keep in mind I was already a champion boxer, so I took on the challenge. The wrestler's were both amateur and professionals. It kind of started from there.

Who long did you train for before you had your first professional match?

I trained for 12 months with the amateur wrestlers who were also pros. With the boxing, all 77 bouts in pro and amateur, I was well prepared.

How has the media been both good and bad to you?

Actually, they have mainly been quite good to me. They helped me good press coverage that helped me get movie parts and advertisements. They helped promote the shows, you see. Don't get me wrong, they didn't always get it right, and you'd know that. They didn't always print what I said and stuff, but overall pretty good. I also had some good agents.

Tell us about the movie roles and advertisements?

A lot of people don't know this, but during and after wrestling, I was in many movies and advertisements. Over 40 feature films and 30 advertisements. Some of the films and advertisements were not showed in Australia, but the Crocodile Dundee movie sure was. I was in all 3 of the series. Crocodile Dundee, the original, was and still is one of the most successful movies of all time. My agent said to me, "send me a tape or show reel and your CV of the ugliest, loud mouthed, mongrel looking wrestlers to audition for a role of a character called "Donk" in Crocodile Dundee, staring Paul Hogan. I did, and before I knew it, I was in all the movies. With Dundee, I was either perfect for the role, or just plain lucky (laughs).

Some of the advertisements include the Commonwealth Bank..this one achieved a FACTS (advertising industry award), Holster Beer (Canada), Tiger Beer and ABC Stout (Singapore), NRMA's equivalent in New Zealand. There were many more Greg.

Some of the other movies included Bullamakanka, Last of the Knucklemen, The Howling III, Kick Fighter and the list goes on. I was usually cast as "the bad guy" or a shifty kind of copper (policeman). I was involved in 4 martial type films.

Where was Crocodile Dundee filmed?

We were all over the place...7 weeks at Byron Bay, time at Cakadu, Darwin, Sydney, and with Crocodile Dundee III we spend 7 weeks on the Gold Coast in Queensland.

How did you secure these deals?

I had good agents and an excellent reputation. I even had a high profile Hollywood agent, and moved to LA (Los Angeles) for 12 months. I did voice training in London.

What television programs have you appeared on?

All of the Channel 9 World Championship Wrestling shows from 1973 to 1978, that were taped in the Channel 9 studios, Melbourne's Festival Hall, Sydney Stadium and then there was Where are they now, presented by Peter Luck. There is a lot of stuff out there you know Greg.

I have had good dealings with Peter before. How many people attended the old Channel 9 studio to watch the wrestling?

Well there used to get a few thousand. That's all that would fit in. They would be lined up back to the old car park.

What wrestlers did you have to really keep an eye on in know, the ones that had difficulty distinguishing reality from theatrics and the like?

(thinks for a few seconds)...Bulldog Browler. He was kinda nuts. He seemed to have a great deal of difficulty distinguishing wrestling from the real world.

What was the most dangerous and exciting situations you were in?

Well, I wrestled the late Andre The Giant in a steel cage cage in front of 10,000 people at Melbourne's Festival Hall. They turned away about 3000 fans for that match. The fans were after my blood.

Wrestling Andre must have been amazing. Who else did you have memorable battles with?

Cyclone Negro was always spirited and competitive. We wrestled dozens of times.

Did any of the wrestling matches ever say, get way out of hand, where you and the opponent would be really watching out for yourselves. I think you know what I mean?

(thinking)...Yes. Put it this way, there were times when the amateur background came in very handy.

What were some of the big name wrestlers back then?

Cyclone Negro of course, Bulldog Browler, Andre, Mark Lewin, King Kurtis, Mario Milano and Spiros Arion. Many of the old timers...there dead now.

What is one of the wrestling promos your known for?

Remember I taught you everything you know about wrestling, but I didn't teach you all I know.

World Championship Wrestling was operated by Jim Barnett in Australia between 1964 to 1974. What was he like as a promoter and a person?

Jim Barnett was a very astute businessman. He was more than just another wrestling promoter. Kind of like Vince McMahon Jr. He was pretty eccentric and of course everyone knows he is gay.

What announcers were calling the action back then?

Jack Little was the most famous. Then there was Mike Clearly, Paul Jennings and Wayne Kirby.

Why did the Australian World Championship Wrestling stop?

By around 1978 Jim Barnet realised that WCW in Australia was past it's "used by" date. Something has to give. The ceasing of WCW made way for World Series Cricket which was developed by John Corwel and Paul Hogan.

You have been involved with a number of wrestling promotions and events in Australia haven't you?

Yes. For many years I operated Main Event Promotions. We ran mainly clubs and shopping centres. For 15 years we did a show at Revesby Worker's Club every month for 15 years. We also did Manly Leagues Club, Mount Pritchard (where we just did our 25th year) and Penrith Panthers.

What are you doing with yourself these days?

I'm strongly focussed on the successful operation of my new gym at Coogee Beach.

How did that come about?

My relationship with Paul Graham goes back 30 years. He used to be a big name in body building. I met him at Channel 9 studios back at a WCW taping in 1973.

You used to have another Gym also didn't you?

Yes. That was at Coogee also, under the Holiday Inn. I had that for 9 years, and we had over 3000 members through there. Some pretty high profile members also, including the NSW State of Origin team. We still have them. Beach Fitness has many high level footballers and even some Olympians.

There's some more customers now. I better let you go. Can I pop in again soon?

Sure, and I'll let you check out the show reel.


Listen to an interview with Steve Rackman - May 2003

Steve Rackman interview - 13th November 2003

Steve Rackman interview - 24th March 2004



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For more information contact Greg Tingle at or contact

Beach Fitness, cnr Arden & Carr Streets, Coogee, Sydney, Australia Ph 02 9665 4058

Media Man Australia

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Steve Rackman and Greg Tingle at Coogee Beach


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