Roy Heffernan

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Roy Heffernan, who wrestled with Al Costello as the tag team known as the Fabulous Kangaroos.

Al Costello and I made our debut as The Fabulous Kangaroos in New York in '57. We had little boomerangs that we threw to the crowds, and we had our manager with us. We had a big banner with 'The Fabulous Kangaroos' on it, and a recording
of 'Waltzing Matilda' that we'd march down to the ring to. I remember the first time carrying the banner. It was a low ceiling and the top of the banner hit it. Then our manager, Red Berry, starts to fall. Al Costello tries to catch him. And he starts to fall. So, I try to catch them both. And suddenly, all three of us fall down! And this is our grand opening. Our debut! All three of us are floundering around, our hats are all twisted, and we look just like the Three Stooges! We never lived that
down. (Laughter) It was awful.

When I first met Lou Thesz, I used to call him Mr. Thesz. But, he had this thing. He didn't like guys like Gorgeous George or Baron Leone. Guys with a strut. Buddy Rogers. He didn't like all that. He just wanted to wrestle. He'd get them on the ropes and give them a slap across the face that could be heard all around the arena. That was just to say, now wrestle, don't fool around. Don't be a bloody clown. I never liked it when he slapped my face, so when I first wrestled him, I said,"Now, Mr. Thesz, there's no need to slap my face." He said, "Well, I've got some good reports about you. Have we got a match?" I said, "Alright, but just don't slap my face." Anyhow, we became good friends. I've got his boots from the last match I had with him, on Victoria Island, across from Vancouver. You get a few who do that. (shoot)

Some of these guys, they cheese you off. Dick Hutton ... he was one of the greatest. He was a Big Ten champion, college champion. Even the Olympics. They wanted to make him world's champion, but they were hesitant, because if they made him champion, if they ever wanted to change it, who was going to beat him? I wrestled him somewhere, in Canberra, I think. Some woman in the front row had a cheque for $200, and she said, "Roy, you beat Hutton and I'll sign this." So, I took the cheque down to the dressing room and showed it to the guys. I showed it to Dick, too, and we were laughing amongst ourselves.

So, I'm in this match with Hutton, and I got him in a little maneuver when he was down. It was like-- it's like when you're playing chess. This was check, the next move would be checkmate. But there's this little maneuver you put on -- it's nothing great, but they can't go forward or backward. They can't get out of it. A wrestler would never get in that position, but I got Dick in it. I tied him up a bit, and he's on his side, and he can't go this way, can't go back there. And when he moves around, I've got hold of his tights, so I move around with him. He looks up at me like, "What's going on?" I said, "I'm going for the $200." (laughter) Hell, he couldn't get up, but he fought so hard we bounced. We bounced over to the ropes and the referee made us break. And then I was fighting for my life. (Laughter) No sense of humor ...

I remember one time, we came out one night after a match through a side door which came down on to English Avenue. We tried to sneak out this side door, but there were still about 2,000 people out there, hanging around. It was one of those big metal doors. You know, with a heavy metal bar? I said to Al, "Come on. I'll peep around." Anyhow, Al's behind me, and
we're peeping around, and CLUNK! The bloody door closes, and now we're locked out. All these people start to see us. I said to Al, "There a little shop, a juice bar, across the street there. Let's try and get in there. But," I said, "Don't touch anybody! Don't say anything! Don't even look at them!" So, we just tried to make it to the other side of the street. And they're kicking us in the arse, kicking our bags, pulling at our hats, grabbing the flag. We just kept going. Didn't say a word. We went into the juice bar and all these faces in the window are looking at us.

Al got eight stitches in one side of his face and six in the other side. We had a six-man tag match in Winnipeg,and what a riot we had. We gave Stan (Stasiak) a slouch hat, too. Made him an honorary member of the Kangaroos, and he carried our
banner in. It was a six-man tag ... and the crowd started throwing chairs. I said, "Listen, let's get under the ring, because we can't make it to the dressing rooms." They folded the chairs up and threw them at us under the ring. They threw in so many chairs that it made like a wall around us. I could see Karl Gotch's legs from under there, and he said, "Come on, get out of there!" I said,"Are you crazy? I'm staying right here." He said, "Come on, come on." He was fighting them off for us, and knocking people down. He's a rugged guy, too. Anyhow, we finally got back to the dressing room. Al got cuts on both sides of his face and Stan got six stitches. And the promoter, he says, "Fan-tas-tic!" His words exactly. He said, "Do you want to do it in Vancouver?" (laughter) I never answered him. I just looked at him, but the look was enough. He said, "No, well, I guess not." Do you know what else the crowd did? They pulled the drape off the ring and were trying to light it, to burn us out. Later, we said to Stan Stasiak, "Did you like being the third Kangaroo?" He said, "You can shove your Kangaroos. You can shove your banner. You can shove the lot. Get stuffed!" I thought he was going to hit me. (laughter)

Kangaroo's Links

Introduction Roy Heffernan Al Costello Fan Memories Official Kangaroo's website The Royal Kangaroo's (Original)


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