Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
Crocodile Dundee, Professional Wrestling Career
Currently Known For:
December 31, 1969
Here in the United States, we’re familiar with the professional wrestling icons such as Hulk Hogan, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and the international legend Andre the Giant. There’s a wrestler that’s competed against the likes of these wrestlers, while also following in the same acting steps that they have, too. Americans might not know him well, but Steve Rackman is an icon of his own in his native Australia.
Rackman wasn’t born in Australia, however, coming over from the United Kingdom where he had worked a number of jobs. Like many professional wrestlers of his time, Rackman came from a background of professions that required a lot of strength. Not only was he a bodybuilder in his younger years, but Rackman also got involved with bouncing at clubs, which was aided by the fact that he spent a lot of time boxing.
Rackman’s background helped him ease into the world of professional wrestling, and he took his talents down under to Australia. “A few of the fellas said I looked like a young, strong, big fella,” Rackman said. “And that I might like to join them for wrestling lessons. Keep in mind I was already a champion boxer, so I took on the challenge. The wrestlers were both amateurs and professionals. It kind of started from there.”
There, he became a “heel” character, otherwise known as a villain. Rackman fought against some of the biggest names in wrestling at the time, which included Andre the Giant. Not many times was he the top billed wrestler on the program, but the man known as “Crusher” was drawing crowds.
Throughout almost all of the 1970s, Rackman competed amongst the world’s best wrestlers, though the promotion that he was a part of started to flounder toward the end of the decade. That organization was World Championship Wrestling, not to be confused with Ted Turner’s American operation of the same name. The company ended up going under, and Rackman had turned his attention to acting on-screen.
There had already been some acting experience on a small level during his wrestling career, as Rackman had played an extra in productions such as “Mad Dog Morgan”, “Death Cheaters” and “Ryan”. Then, in 1979, Rackman had a more significant part in the TV series “Bellamy” as a multiple time guest character. Other early 1980s productions that Rackman became involved with included “Turkey Shoot”, “Fantasy Man” and “The Empty Beach”.
Then, in 1986, Rackman had what would be his most notable role as an actor. In the film “Crocodile Dundee”, Rackman played the role of Donk. Donk was the enforcer that was not to be messed with. A punishing, bruising type that would end up appearing in the film’s sequel two years later, as well. Some of the most memorable scenes in the film included Rackman’s character, cementing his status as an Australian star.
When talking about his time on “Crocodile Dundee”, Rackman said that it was a lot of work. Even more so than he was used to during his traveling days as a pro wrestler. “We were all over the place,” he said. “Seven weeks at Byron Bay, time at Kakadu, Darwin, Sydney.” To get the role, Rackman said that “I had good agents and an excellent reputation. I even had a high profile Hollywood agent and moved to Los Angeles for 12 months. I did voice training in London.”
Rackman sent in a photograph of himself looking as ugly as he could possibly make himself. “My agent said to me, ‘Send me a tape or show reel and your CV of the ugliest, loud mouthed mongrel looking wrestlers to audition for a role of a character called Donk,’” he said. “I did, and before I knew it, I was in all the movies. With ‘Crocodile Dundee’, I was either perfect for the role, or just plain lucky.”
Outside of the “Dundee” franchise, Rackman played a few more roles during the later part of the 1980s. He starred in TV movies such as “Dadah is Death” and “Outback Bound”, while popping up in films like “The Fighter” and “The Blood of Heroes” in 1989. Several years later in 1997, Rackman appeared in a short film called “The Gift”. Since then, Rackman’s only acting role came once again as Donk in the third film, “Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles”.
Rackman has gotten away from acting over the years, and he doesn’t compete in the wrestling ring much at all these days. That doesn’t mean that Rackman isn’t busy, though. Rackman is staying in the world of fitness, running a gym with the likes of Paul and Caroline Graham, both of whom are legendary bodybuilders. The two have been working together for decades now, and Rackman says that he’s focused on his gym right now with a lot of clients, and according to Rackman has been very successful.
It should go without saying, though, as Rackman has certainly never looked like a guy that you’d want to go toe-to-toe with. Even if most of the times that he’s looked his toughest have been on screen or in a staged wrestling performance, Rackman is still as intimidating as ever.