John E. Crowther talks about SOUL MAN ROCKY JOHNSON

First Comics News: If Rocky Johnson, is really Wayde Douglas Bowles, how is his son not Dwayne Bowles?

John E. Crowther: When Rocky began wrestling in the early-to-mid-1960s’, he had his name legally changed to Rocky Johnson, as an homage to two of his childhood heroes: boxers Rocky Marciano and Jack Johnson. Thus. when Dwayne was born, his father’s legal name was Rocky Johnson.

1st: As a Canadian wrestler, how did Rocky end up boxing with American Champions Muhammad Ali and George Foreman?

John: Before transitioning into a professional wrestling career, Rocky had trained to be a professional boxer. In fact, he won the Canadian Golden Gloves Championship as both a light-heavyweight and as a heavyweight. Later on, professional wrestling bookers would use that background when booking Rocky in “boxer vs wrestler” and “brass knuckles” matches. His sparring opportunities with Foreman and Ali came about through a combination of Rocky’s prior training, and being in the right place at the right time.

In 1973, Rocky was living in Hayward, California. Dwayne had just been born and Rocky was spending time with the family. Foreman was training at the Hayward Boy’s Club for his upcoming bout against Joe Frazier, which was to take place in Kingston, Jamaica. Rocky visited the Boy’s Club to watch Foreman train and the pair were introduced, Rocky’s amateur background in boxing was discussed and Foreman was looking for a good sparring partner, so they made it happen.

Rocky’s sparring sessions with Foreman rekindled his love for boxing; so, between matches in California, Rocky would return to Canada and train at his old boxing gym in Toronto (Sully’s). While training at Sully’s, Rocky was introduced to a young boxer named Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali. They eventually amassed nearly 30 rounds sparring together at Sully’s.

1st: How did Sweet Ebony Diamond come about?

John: Sweet Ebony Diamond was a name Rocky used around 1980 (and the only name other than Rocky Johnson he ever used as a professional wrestler), while he wrestled under a mask in the Mid-Atlantic Territory. He had been introduced to the fans in the Mid-Atlantic by Ric Flair, as a tremendous athlete full of “charisma and soul.”

1st: How did Ata Maivia and Johnson meet?

John: Rocky and Ata met when he was appearing as a tag team partner in California with her father, Peter Maivia.

1st: How did you get in touch with Rocky Johnson?

John: I had previously written biographical comics for wrestlers Nikolai Volkoff and Brian Blair. While attending a Legends Luncheon for retired professional wrestlers in Tampa, Florida, with Brian Blair, I heard a yell from across the room…it was Rocky. “Hey! How come you haven’t written my book yet?” he asked. “You haven’t asked me”, I replied. Now, here we are.

1st: How much involvement did Rocky have with the comic?

John: Rocky has been involved in the process from Day One; from the interviews, final scripts, final artwork, promotional videos, to the available perks, Rocky has always had input and the final say.

1st: Did Rocky have approval of the final script and likeness?

John: Absolutely. Rocky fully approved the final script and the final artwork.

1st: What is the minimum pledge to get a digital copy?

John: Digital copies of Rocky’s comic can be obtained for as little as $3. Digital rewards are included at all of the print reward levels.

1st: What is the minimum pledge to get a physical copy?

John: The minimum pledge to get a physical copy is $6 for the standard cover, with an additional $3 added for shipping to anywhere in the United States and it’s territories.

1st: How many different covers are there?

John: We have three available covers; the Standard cover was done by Randolph Dixon and features both Rocky Johnson and his son, Dwayne; the Rare cover was done by the interior artist, Dell Barras, and features Rocky in action; and the Ultra Rare cover was done by Amanda Rachels,and features Rocky and Tony Atlas (the Soul Patrol) after their victory over the Wild Samoans for the WWF World Tag Team Championship.

1st: What rewards are you offering?

John: We have a large variety of available rewards. In addition to digital and print versions of the comic, we are offering autographed copies and CGC-Graded autographed copies, as well as autographed 8×10’s, trading cards, and action figures; original artwork (including cover art); full-page ad space in the comic; and wrestling bundles, wherein you can obtain copies of all of our current wrestling titles. There’s really something for every budget.

1st: When will the comic be published?

John: The comic is already completed. Once the campaign ends and ads are supplied by backers, the files will be sent to the printer. Once received from the printer, the books will be shipped directly to backers.

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