Wrestling Then and Now Internet Vol 1
MY VISIT WITH NIKOLAI VOLKOFF AND NIKITA BREZNIKOV
BY: SCOTT WILSON
In the June 2002 issue of Wrestling Then and Now I wrote about my boyhood hero and idol Nikolai Volkoff and described the three times when Nikolai and his manager Nikita Breznikov were at my home.
Now, with the release of Duane Walker's wrestling documentary due out shortly, I wanted to tell about our trip last July 16 and 17 when independent filmmaker Walker, Evan Ginzburg and myself traveled to Baltimore, Maryland to see Nikolai and Nikita in their hometown. The purpose of the trip was to capture the perspectives of Nikolai and Nikita on film.
Nikita and his then fiancee/now wife Victoria were most gracious hosts. When we arrived at Nikita's house we received a warm welcome and there was delicious food awaiting us.
To describe the inside décor of Nikita's house is simple. The walls are full of autographed photos of wrestling legends and poster advertisements for wrestling shows. There is not much bare space on the walls as he has so many photos of various legends at wrestling events adorning his walls. Nikita also has an extensive collection of vintage wrestling videos and figures and we spent some time watching matches from Madison Square Garden from the 1970s.
The original plan was for us to go from Nikita's house to Nikolai's house but that was changed as we would have had to spend too much time driving to get to Nikolai's house and farm. All of a sudden the great moment arrived and Nikolai was outside Nikita's door. Nikolai has a real aura of greatness about him. He is one of the nicest people that I've ever met and once he knows you he treats you like family. Nikolai asked me how things were going with my family and he also asked me if I had finished my ongoing long-term project of trying to remodel my kitchen. I still haven't.
After Nikolai finished eating lunch it was time to interview one of the true legends of wrestling about his perspectives on the business and his career in it. First off, Evan asked me what it was like for me to be in my hero's presence. I responded that it was unbelievable; it is hard to find words to describe what it is like to be around someone you admire and love so much.
Nikolai then spoke about various aspects concerning the wrestling business and his career in it. He reminisced about his start in wrestling, what it was like to be immortalized in a Saturday morning cartoon, the various characters he portrayed from Bepo Mongol to Two Cents and how he came over to America from a foreign land.
I am fascinated by character development and gimmickry in wrestling. It amazes me when a wrestler changes his physical appearance and wears a costume to become another persona. Nikolai talked about the different characters he's portrayed over the years but it was very interesting to hear him talk about when he was Bepo Mongol. Nikolai said that his tag team partner Geeto Mongol had the potential to make them a lot of money. However, Nikolai said that it was hard at times to go out in public with the hairstyle that he had to wear as Bepo Mongol. This hairstyle consisted of a mostly bald head with a ponytail in the back and a very small tuft of hair on the front of his head. I assume he got tired of being stared at while he looked like this. Nikolai also spoke at length on the meditation he does daily to help combat life's stresses. It was a spellbinding talk from someone who spent a major portion of his life devoted to the wrestling business. Nikolai was most kind to me as he autographed more photos and wrestling magazines for me. As a gift I gave Nikolai a copy of a wrestling magazine from1977 that he was featured in. Nikolai commented that I have more memorabilia on him in my collection than he has about himself!
Now it was Nikita's turn to talk about his thoughts on the wrestling business. Nikita spoke about how Nikolai got him started in the business, his perspectives on the independent circuit, how the WWF product is today and why it is like that due to the fans. Nikita also spoke about his recent successful battle with prostate cancer and the need for early detection regarding diseases.
We also interviewed Nikita's fiancee Victoria for the movie. She spoke about how much fun it is to be on the road with Nikolai and Nikita and all the fine people they've met on these encounters. She said the whole experience has been wonderful for her. Victoria also told us about the time that she went to Thomas Jefferson's grave at Monticello with Nikolai and Nikita. As they were walking away a man approached them and shouted out this was the famous wrestler Nikolai Volkoff in person. The point being that seeing Nikolai at Jefferson's grave made the man forget where he was. I can understand this as Nikolai has the same effect on me. I am in awe of him every time I'm around him in person. His personality is like a magnet; he is such a nice person he draws people to himself. It is pretty astounding that Nikolai can even overshadow Thomas Jefferson!
Nikita's daughter Jennifer also talked about what it was like to have a father involved in the independent wrestling circuit and how talented her father really is. I agreed with her as I feel Nikita is one of the most talented managers with his physical gestures and interviews that I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of the great ones from The Grand Wizard to Lou Albano. For me, Nikita talent wise is in their class. Jennifer also said how you do worry about someone you love being hurt at ringside but that she knows that her father knows how to take care of himself. It was a very enlightening perspective from a a 17 year old girl who has had wrestling as a major part of her life due to her father's love of and involvement in it.
Unfortunately Nikolai now had to leave to go back to work as a Baltimore County building inspector. I walked Nikolai to his car wishing I was going with him — I do admire him that much! After some small talk Nikolai sent his regards to my family and said that he wanted us to see his house and farm some day. I told him I'd really love that sometime and then waved goodbye to a man for what he's done with his life and I try to be just like him as much as I can. He's a real special person to me. A true champion inside and outside the wrestling ring!
We spent the rest of the day with Nikita talking wrestling and watching matches from his extensive video collection. Then the time came for us to leave and we drove to Baltimore County where we spent the night at my best friend's house.
I also want to thank Nikolai, Nikita and Victoria for their generosity and kindness. They didn't charge us a penny for their time to be interviewed for this movie and were most gracious hosts to us while we were in their home.
There are some real special people in this world and for me Nikolai, Nikita, Vicotria and Jennifer are four of the best people I've ever known. I love you all!
EDITOR'S NOTE: For updates on the impending release of the Duane Walker wrestling documentary featuring Nikolai, hardcore icons Lowlife Louie Ramos and Homicide, Kid USA, Frankie Starz, The Mambo King and some 25 other indie wrestlers check out www.walkertown.com for all the details. The site also features great zine, music, and independent cinema sites and links.