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Dusty Rhodes and the American Dream: a look back to 1978

Credit: Palm Beach (FL) Post

By Chris Aiken,

In an interview from an episode of Championship Wrestling in April 1978, Dusty Rhodes and Vince McMahon sat in an empty arena. Vince introduced him and Dusty began to speak before removing his cowboy hat to look in the camera and address the viewing audience in a more serious and straight forward tone than his usual high energy promos.

A day after Dusty passed away at the age of 69, here's the transcription about his journey and how it relates to the American Dream:

“…It’s always a little yelling, little screaming, little really get down fever and boogie when I’m rapping and never get a chance to really sit down and rap with my people and talk to you. When I was a kid growing up, I did have a dream. You know, I look around this building. I look around at the things that go on in this building. The people screaming and hollering, and this is a quiet time for me. It’s a personal time for me because my dream is every little child’s dream or every person’s dream that ever wanted to be anything. It is an American Dream. There is an American Dream.

Hell, whether it’s filling a building like this or if it’s doing plumbing like my daddy did as well as you can do it, you understand. (Takes off his sunglasses) I mean just as good as you can. I just thank God that there are people like yourselves that come out to see ‘The American Dream’ because when I was growing up I sure didn’t think 265 pounds of blue-eyed soul would captivate a country like I have. The people drive me.

There’s never been a man I don’t think in sports anywhere [that] gets a natural high. That might be it, you look around, a natural high from doing what he’s doing. It’s not dope. It’s not pot. It’s not whiskey and wine. Now I drink a little whiskey and wine. (Pauses) But it’s every man, woman or child that really believe in the American Dream.

And you know, Vinny, this building… (Getting excited) I’m getting down now because I’m saying things in my heart. This building will be full, it’s true. They’ll be screaming and hollering and jumping and shucking and jiving because this man knows no color barrier. He has no qualms about going out and eating dinner with a black man, or a Puerto Rican, or a Greek man, or a Chinese man, or Mexican-American, or anybody like that. Because I was raised to understand a man is a man first when he proves himself a man no matter what color he is, no matter what creed he is.

Playing football back in West Texas, you know, we had many black guys on the team. Really boogie get down fever boys. And there were a few people around the town there in Texas that were still down a little on blacks. Now the world has changed. The arenas has changed. (Talking louder) You can look up in this building in a matter of a few hours when it’s full, and you can see a black man and a white man eating out of the same popcorn box. Wooo, that’s funky! That’s the American Dream!

And I don’t care too much for politicians you understand, or don’t get involved in what’s their business. All I know is my business is making you happy. And I get a little sentimental when I’m thinking about it because making you happy makes my dreams fulfilled. And God knows I love you. Now whether it’s Superstar Billy Graham or Bob Backlund – a great, great champion that he is – or whether it’s sitting here with Vince, or whether it’s Freddie Blassie or Captain Lou Albano, the weasel, or any of his people, or Spiros Arion.

There is a triumph in an empty building when I can sit here and really let my feelings go telling you in two hours [it] will be full of screaming people for one thing. For one instant in their life everything else don’t matter (long pause) but the American Dream. Now whether I carry that banner like I should sometimes it takes help from you.

But I tell you one damn thing, I’m going to carry it forever and ever. The American Dream lives in this empty building.”