Ah, wrestling. That campy, testosterone-driven few hours of television you never wish you hadn’t watched. Turns out, it’s still going strong, and last week, Goldberg returned to ring after more than a decade away. Here’s what his entrance looked like.
And a few days later at Survivor Series he beat up on Brock Lesnar, also an old dude at this point, after giving him the spear and the jackhammer and all sorts of moves that looked like they probably hurt quite a bit.
But outside of all the wrestling hype is the fact that this 49-year-old man is still in exquisite shape and still has a sense of humor, Jewish and otherwise. He recently sat down with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap at a coffee shop named Goldberg’s (not his), and the two of them had bagels. Said Schaap, who you either love or hate: “Your father, a Harvard-trained doctor, your mother quite an accomplished woman as well—what went wrong, Bill, as the Jewish parents would say?”
“I don’t know,” Goldberg replied. “I don’t think anything’s really gone wrong. I think it went kind of awry. I took a left-hand turn.”
Goldberg is proud of his Jewish faith, which runs deep. During his prime fans often greeted the wrestler, who obviously did not Anglicize his name, with Jewish-themed signs. He was bar mitzvahed at Temple Israel in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reported The Washington Post in 1999.
“The stupidest question I get is ‘Is Goldberg your real name?’ ” he says. “I tell people, ‘No, my real name is Killer, but I wanted a much more menacing name, so I picked Goldberg.’ “
At one point, Goldberg even considered using the nickname, “Mossad.”
“I had three intentions when I became a wrestler,” he says. “One was to keep my integrity. Two was to give pro wrestling a more respectable image. And three was to be a role model to Jewish kids, who may not have thought they could do what I do. I’ve got a lot of people I’m carrying on my back, but it’s a light load because I take a lot of pride in who I am and where I came from.”
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Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.