JIM MYERS aka GEORGE “The Animal” STEELE; Prejudgment Without Knowing The Facts

JIM MYERS aka GEORGE “The Animal” STEELE; Prejudgment Without Knowing The Facts

Jim was a Professional Wrestler and a 25 year High School Teacher and Coach, but long before any of those amazing memories, Jim was subjected to a pre-judgment that stemmed from issues with Dyslexia. The following interview was done in question and answer form.

ES: What do you most remember about you sports endeavors as a child?

JM: I am proud to say that in high school, I received 16 varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball, and track.

ES: I have read in several places where you had a learning challenge as a child (Dyslexia)

JM: I am going to speak about my learning problem in hope that it just might help someone down the road. If a child is having problems learning, get him or her help. When I was facing the challenges of Dyslexia there was no help available. In 1946 educators had no clue when it came to learning disabilities. You were either smart or stupid, or you were smart or lazy.

I overcame some major challenges and was pretty successful without much help. Dad bought a desk for me so that I could have a place to study and do my homework. I was bought the World Encyclopedias, Children’s Classics and a huge dictionary. Both my mom and dad went way beyond their means to provide me, and my brother Jack, with every opportunity to have a better life than they had. I was told everyday how important a college education was. I was told that in this great country you could be anything that you wanted to be. I was learning about goal setting and did not know it. Not being able to learn was not an option. Dad was going to see that I went to college. It was kind of like some of the fathers who push their kids in youth sports in today’s world.

After school I would spend hours at that desk. I hated that desk. I could not go out to play until I learned my spelling words. I had to do the arithmetic and do my reading. I just could not do it. The harder I tried the harder it got. My dad was a very patient man but would become very frustrated trying to help me learn. “Dad never knew that we were not seeing the same thing”

ES: What message can you send to people who have learning issues to overcome, and fear being laughed at?

JM: Well like I mentioned before, I had Dyslexia when no one knew what to do about it or had an understanding of what it was. Kids can be rotten to their classmates, but in today’s world there is so much help out there for a person to receive, that it’s not necessary to hide behind it anymore. I had problems in all the levels of schooling. In grade school I was just laughed at, In high school they would just send me to the gym to play sports after Role call, and then in college, my enrollment officer recognized that I had a bit of intelligence, so he had me take my exams orally. That was kind of a band-aid to the problem, but definitely better than how I was treated in the lower schools.

ES: You accomplished so much athletically and ultimately in receiving your degree from Michigan State University with all you had to deal with.

JM: I’ve learned over the years & I believe it to be true of all people who have learning challenges, that when God takes something away from you in one area, that he gives you a blessing in another. It’s called a Gift. The more I’ve learned about people with Dyslexia over the years, is that we have great memories, so I was able to retain information orally in University without actually writing out notes.

ES: When did it occur to you about becoming a teacher and coach?

JM: After I blew out my knee in college and knew my football career was finished, I decided that teaching would be my endeavor. I had been sent to the gym so much in high school that I knew all about that aspect, and subsequently went to work in a reform school to begin with. These kids were being sent back out into the same streets that I had come from, and I wanted to try and make a difference. I eventually ended up in Madison Heights, Michigan as a teacher and coach for over 25 years.

ES: Is there a particular saying or mantra that you are known for or try to live your life by. ”People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” -Maya Angelou

ES: How did you get introduced into the professional wrestling industry? I remember going with my father to the old Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles to watch guys like John Tolos (The Golden Greek), Edouard Carpentier (The Flying Frenchman), and Classy Freddie Blassie. I wanted to be one of them, but you did become one of them. Please tell.

JM: It was 1961 and I was making about $4,300 dollars as a teacher. I had two children and another on the way, so I went looking for a part time job as a bouncer to supplement my income. I went with a friend to a bar one night, and after a few drinks and whatever, I ended up not getting hired, so I guess it had to be around one thirty or two in the morning, that my friend told me about wrestling.

I didn’t know anything about, but decided to call the call the local promoter the next day. His name was Bert Ruby, and he was the man that taught me how to leverage myself in the wrestling industry and still continue with my teaching and coaching job. I didn’t want to use my real name due to the job at the school, so he suggested that I wear a mask and go by the moniker of “The Student”. I did that for about the first four or five years.

In terms of my actual wrestling mentor, that would definitely have to be Gino Brito. He taught me what I needed to know in the ring.

ES: Is there one match that stands out among others? Perhaps, it was a match in front of a large crowd?

JM: I was fortunate to have had some amazing matches over the years with some fantastic athletes who were great people away from the ring, but the thing I’m most proud of is that I always took pride in giving my best performance whether it was a crowd of 800 or a crowd of 80,000.

ES: What advice do you give kids today who come and ask you about joining the wrestling business?

JM: My advice would be to GO TO THE NFL !!! At any given time there are only 6 to 8 guys at the top level in wrestling, but in football you have 30 teams, each with 45 to 50 players. Do the math. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed wrestling, but it’s just the economics. More opportunity in the NFL.

Jim Myers (George “The Animal” Steele) was elected in to 4 Halls of Fame including the WWF in 1995, as well as the Michigan High School Coaches Hall in 1995. In 2005 he was inducted into the Professional Wrestlers Hall of Fame, and then in 2006 honored by the Michigan Football Coaches Hall of Fame, but at the date of our interview, maybe his greatest accomplishment would be his triumph over Crohn’s Disease. This debilitating disease was no match for the rough and tumble man from Michigan who’s been a battler his whole life.

  • Nothing kept him down from pursuing that better life that his parents wanted for him.
  • Not Dyslexia
  • Not being laughed at by other children
  • Not teachers who didn’t know what his problem was, and how to help him
  • Nor Crohn’s Disease after his retirement from wrestling.

I am blessed to have interviewed him and shared his story. This interview was made back in 2007, and Jim has now passed away, and been missed by so many since early 2017.

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