Former multi-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race was interviewed by St. Louis Public Radio to promote his Harley Race Wrestling Academy. Operating since 2000, the academy has been home to current WWE talent Curtis Axel and John Cone, former WWE talent Trevor Murdoch, Ted DiBiase, Jr., Ricky Steamboat, Jr., and Simon Gotch, as well as current Ring of Honor talent the Beer City Bruiser.
Race talked about how his hometown of Quitman, Missouri, about 100 miles outside of Kansas City, was so small, and even smaller when he left to pursue pro wrestling.
“At that particular point in time, there was around 135 people in Quitman, Missouri,” said Race. “When I left there to go out on my own to really get involved in wrestling they were down to about 95 people.” Now, the population has went down even more, with about 45 residents.
At 75, Race still appears at the academy about three times a week, where his son Leland also trains.
“It gives me something to do other than just sit there in the house and wait on myself to die his son Leland trains,” Harley jokingly said. He also is heavy on the recruiting process to potentially send his students to WWE, since he is “the kind of guy that can make that phone call to Vince,” said trainee Sean Patrick Phillips.
In the summer of 2017, Race broke both of his legs after falling in his home in Troy, Missouri. Shortly following the injury, Race stated to Sports Illustrated that he is healing up and expecting a full recovery. “They’re in route to recovery, and I’m right along with them. In a little amount of time, I’ll be up walking again,” Race explained.
Over a year later, Race is now using a scooter to move around at the academy, still recovering from the injury.
“If I could back myself up 30 years I would be the happiest man on the face of the Earth,” Race explained.
After being one of the most popular stars in the National Wrestling Alliance during the 70s and early 80s, Race had a three-year stint in the WWE, becoming “King” Harley Race under the management services of Bobby Heenan. Following his time with WWE, Race returned to WCW, competing for a short time before endeavoring in a career as a manager. During this time, he accompanied World Champions such as Lex Luger and Vader.
Source: St. Louis Public Radio