FROM THE ARCHIVES: One-on-one with The Nature Boy Ric Flair

Originally published in The Kingston Whig-Standard on July 24, 2004. All rights reserved

By Jan Murphy

Ric Flair 27

   He’s a 16-time world champion. He’s one of the most recognizable and respected figures to grace the wrestling ring. And now, at the age of 54, the Nature BoyRic Flair is a best-selling author.
Flair’s autobiography, Ric Flair: To Be The Man, debuted at No. 20 on the New York Times Bestseller List and has worked its way up to No. 5.
Asked about his rise from legendary grappler to accomplished author, Flair held nothing back in an interview with No Holds Barred this week.
Flair, who was touring Canada to promote his book, had nothing but praise for the WWE’s fans from the north.
“It’s been awesome,” Flair said of his time in Canada.
“The whole experience up here has been as rewarding as it always is. The greatest fans in the world are up here.”
The book reveals the life and times, both inside and outside the ring, of one of wrestling’s greats. Flair reveals the trials and tribulations that come with fame, his personal struggle with a lack of self-confidence and his relationships with wrestlers past and present. He also gives his very candid thoughts on some of his least favourite people.
But if Flair had it his way, the book likely wouldn’t exist.
“[The WWE] put a lot of pressure on me [to tell my story],” Flair said in a telephone interview.
“It was nothing that I wanted to initially. It was just pressure from the company because they have a relationship with [publisher] Simon & Schuster and they thought my story would be interesting and ultimately it turned out to be a hit. [It’s] very interesting from the standpoint of the success of the book, but it was a long, hard process putting it together.”
The book was so hard, in fact, that Flair paused when asked if it was a fun project.
“It was fun,” he said. “But it turned out to be a lot more work – not understanding the literary world and what it meant to write in the first person.”
The first couple of times he read his book, Flair was less than impressed.
“I think [the ghostwriter] thought [he had] creative liberty and just took off in tangents. He took what I said, but wrote down what he felt about it rather than what I said.
“When you start talking about people and incidents and that, you ultimately would like it to sound like you.”
Flair said his book is fair, condensed representation of his career.
“It took a lot of editing and a lot of hard work to get that final product, but I’m 80 per cent happy with it.”
Flair was asked to elaborate.
“It’s 80 per cent me. It doesn’t sound exactly like what I said, but in theory it does. There’s nothing that’s written down that I didn’t say. It just doesn’t sound like it came out of my mouth, if that makes sense.”
He’s 80 per cent happy with his book, but there’s a few things that he’d have done differently.
“I never got to see the final draft until it was printed, so there is a few things that I wish had been written differently, but a the end of the day it’s pretty much what I said,” he said.
Flair was kind enough to take a few minutes to offer his thoughts on some wrestling-related subjects:
– Evolution: “It’s a great time for me. It’s four guys that very compatible – two guys who really know their way around and two young guys that have really come around to know their way around. It’s fun, it’s exciting and I think that they’re the lead characters on Raw and we’ve had a lot of fun with it.”
– Good guy or bad guy?: “I prefer to be bad. It just matches up with my character better.”
– The WWE now versus then: “The biggest difference is the fact that I have come back and I have been able to re-
establish myself. I’ve got my feet back on the ground again and I’m very happy with the company and very proud to be working for them.”
– Triple H: “My thoughts on Triple H are this: He is the best performer in the company today. He’s an awesome friend and a great guy.”[email protected]