Terry Bollea and Ed Leslie achieved stardom in wrestling as the Immortal Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake. Outside of the ring, they were close friends who grew up and entered the business together in South Tampa, Florida.
During the territorial era of the ’70s, Hulk traveled around with his kayfabe little brother, Dizzy Hogan. Dizzy was Ed Leslie’s first gimmick in wrestling out of many (Brother Bruti, The Butcher, The Man with No Name, Zodiac, Bootyman, the Disciple, and of course, Brutus the Barber Beefcake would follow).
The two would reach varying levels of success during their time in wrestling. Still, nothing beats those stories of breaking in the business and sleeping in a van between shows with the peaceful backdrop of the beach combined with the pungent fumes produced by the heads of the Samoan Dynasty, Afa and Sika!
Hulk Hogan and Brutus The Barber Beefcake – Their Start in Wrestling
To travel from one territory to another, Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake traveled in a van that was, according to Brutus, in his recently released autobiography Brutus the Barber Beefcake: Struttin’ & Cuttin’, "a big brown Winnebago with custom airbrushing. It had a pimpin’ ocean scene of a seashore, a boat, some seagulls overhead, and a giant anchor in its sky."
In the late 1970s, these ‘two brothers’ traveled to Pensacola for a run in the often overlooked but very influential promotion called Southeastern Championship Wrestling — or simply the Pensacola Territory.
Ed Leslie describes a time when he (then known as Dizzy Hogan) and Hulk Hogan were first getting their start in the business:
"We got to be real good friends with the Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika. They were not the crazy monsters like they were depicted on TV. They were two big teddy bears, and they were in the same boat as us, new and broke.
"None of us had any money back then. We couldn’t afford motel rooms like the other guys. We didn’t need one. We had that no-tell motel on wheels with us everywhere we went. Every night Terry and I would sleep in his finally airbrushed van on the beach in Pensacola, and the Samoans slept in their van too right next to us."
Beefcake continued, "The Samoans quite often would pull out a little grill and would be cooking out in front of their van on the sidewalk. Man, oh man, they fed Terry and I a bunch. They were really generous and great."
Paying Back the Wild Samoans
Brutus Beefcake goes on to explain how he and Hulk Hogan paid the "Wild Samoans" Afa and Sika back for the generosity.
"To pay them back, we would go to this buffet place called Moms. It was a little buffet style joint off the main strip, and they had the best fried chicken in the world. The moment we all walked in, we would transform into savages. The people at Moms just hated us.
"The people at the local buffet ‘Moms’ hated Hulk Hogan and Brutus the Barber Beefcake as they would turn into savages the moment they walked into the door!"
Taking Girls Back to the Van
"The nights were relatively peaceful sleeping on the beach, but I do remember one night I had checked in early into the van. I was already asleep when all of a sudden, it felt like I was on a boat. I was out of it. I shook myself awake and looked out the window to see if the van had been hit by the tide or something. Then I realized that the motion was coming from within the van. Someone had snuck in the back.
"Terry had just come back from drinking and had a girl with him. Now I don’t think he was necessarily trying to get it on with her, but either way, I didn’t want to cock block or be their first hand to see what was going to happen. That is breaking the bro code, so I decided to take off.
"Before I shut the door, I saw Terry out of the corner of my eye. He just barely gave me the thumbs up. I walked to the Samoan’s van for shelter. A light drizzle was hitting my face, so I hit the van loudly until finally, a dazed Afa slid the side door open. A stale cloud of dank Samoan Tobacco smacked me in the face. I grimaced and pulled my blanket up over my shoulder and nose as I crawled into the passenger side seat to sleep.
"About 20 minutes later, I awoke again, this time, however, my makeshift bed was not moving around. The thing that woke me from the dead this time was the curious sound of wood being sawed. Afa was snoring loudly, and after about 10 minutes, I heard Sika tell his brother to roll over, and finally, the snoring subsided.
"I closed my eyes again, and just as I started to drift, I heard the gentle blast of an earth-rattling fried chicken fart. Then the sawing started up again in all of its entire splendor. Then to make matters worse, out of nowhere, it became a duet. Yes, another saw chimed in, in perfect harmony; it was magical. A full-on wood-sawing Samoan symphony was being performed just for me right there in that shitty smoked filled Dodge Ram.
"It wasn’t worth it. Some wet socks and a couple of sand flea bites are far better than hearing [the Samoans farting all night], so I rolled out of van number two, wrapped up in a blanket and fell asleep on the beach."
This is a perfect example of what life was like on the road for two up-and-coming wrestlers in the business. Sleeping in a passenger seat of a stale ‘Samoan Tobacco’ smelling van with two loudly snoring Samoans who had a bad case of the fried chicken farts is just part of the experience, brother!
If you enjoyed this piece, be sure not to miss the following articles on our site:
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- Terry Bollea | How Hulk Hogan Got Discovered Playing Bass at a Nightclub
- Hiro Matsuda: The Man Who Broke Hulk Hogan’s Leg!
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