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He weighs 123 kilos. The Russian Nightmare, Nikita Kolob. Now, The Devil's Nightmare. Welcome back to another episode of It's Time to Man Up. Today, just a special, special interview today, and I want to just welcome to the Man Up show, Eugene Napoleon.
Welcome to the Man Up show. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I'm blessed to be here. Thank you. Well, it's great to have you here with us, Eugene, and so we're going to jump into and talk a little bit about your story, and man, you got a lot going on, but let's first, let me cover how we actually met through a mutual friend, Doak Turner, yeah?
Absolutely. Yes, my brother from another mother. Your brother from another mother, and so how long have you and Doak known each other?
How far back does that friendship go? Let me tell you. Since my freshman year at WVU at West Virginia University, so we first met then, and ironically enough, in the AFL, the Arena Football League, I was actually playing for the Orlando Predators. And Doak was working, I want to say, with the Charlotte Rage at the time, and we were playing at Charlotte, and after the game, there's a guy that was banging on the window, and my teammate was like, there's a guy out there calling for you. And I'm like, huh?
There's a guy out there calling for you. So I got off the bus, and it was Doak. Really? So, man, we've known each other since, you're talking probably the late, mid to late 80s.
Okay. Well, so this is interesting. I just, I'm always finding it interesting how the Lord just connects people together, and of course, Doak and I met back when he was doing ring announcing in the mid 80s up in West Virginia. That's where we first met, and, but then, so it's interesting, so the Charlotte Rage, I haven't heard that mentioned since back in the days when I first learned they were coming to Charlotte, the Arena League was coming to Charlotte. Of course, they were wining and dining people to be investors. Eugene, I actually considered being an investor in the Charlotte Rage.
Wow. And I vividly remember being down at the, what was the new coliseum that they had built off of Billy Graham Boulevard, and there, and then entertained us up in the suites and all of that, and then eventually, I think one of the games, we were entertained with one of the games. But part of the reason I just didn't feel comfortable about it too was, if I remember correctly, you might be able to help us, so you were playing with the Orlando Predators, is that right? Yep, I started out with Tampa Bay with the Storm, and then ended my career with, yeah, with the Predators, yep. And, but I think it was the owners of the Predators who were also going to own the Charlotte Rage, or did own the Charlotte Rage, or something to that effect, if I remember right, I could have that.
I think, no, I think if memory serves me correct, that was, I believe that was correct. Yeah, and so I wasn't comfortable with that, I'm like, wait, so the same owners are going to own two teams, I don't know, I don't know how that, anyway, so for whatever reason, I never, but I held on to that promotional package they gave every one of us for years. I might even still have it up in my attic, I don't know, but, so I could, we might have met way back then, Eugene, you know. I'm sure, I'm a huge wrestling fan, Doke is fully aware of that. Okay, so tell, so on that note, tell us, so, you know, you talked about the arena football, but give us a little more back story, like, you know, where'd you grow up, and when did you become a wrestling fan, I'm curious to hear about that. Well, I'm going to tell you, I grew up in Jersey City, New Jersey, that's where I'm originally from, I'm the youngest of seven, and unfortunately my mom buried five of her seven children. So, when I was four, my nine-year-old sister, Genesta, saved my life in one of the biggest house fires at that point in the history of Jersey City. So, she died in that fire by saving me, and, you know, it's interesting, when you go through early trauma, you know, for me, it made me understand things a lot quicker, so I would say I grew up a lot quicker after that experience. And don't drink, don't smoke, never got into partying, and the interesting thing is, sports obviously became an outlet, you know, for myself, and I thank God that my mom, once she figured that out, she did everything that she possibly could to make sure that I was on the straight and narrow, and I was blessed with that. So, probably got into watching wrestling, I want to say, maybe my eighth grade year, and it was just something about the athletes and just the excitement around it and the marketing, the pageantry and the marketing around professional wrestling that just got me all up in. I was like, wow, the road warriors, and it was just unbelievable, Adam on Hawk, and just watching that whole transition into, even now, what it's turned into now. But yeah, I have to say, I became a wrestling fan, probably back my seventh, eighth grade year, you know, in middle school, and all the way up to, as of recent years, I don't get a chance to watch it as much, but I still tune in every now and again, and had a chance to watch, you know, just the history of that profession has always been quite intriguing to me. Yeah, yeah, okay, so that's pretty amazing. So, did you love me or hate me, Eugene? I just got to know, I just got to know.
I'm going to come right back to that right now, and that's the great segue. Dude, first off, a man of your size, right, in athleticism, again, I was always intrigued by that, and my thoughts were the key to had to have been a football player first. He's just too athletic and too big not to have been, you know, I was intrigued with that, and that's the question I've always wanted to ask you. When you as a big man, just with the skill set, when did you decide, you know what, this is the profession that I want to go into, I'm big, I'm strong, I'm agile, I can do some things for a guy of my size that maybe these other guys can't do. When did that switch click on for you? Well, that's a great question, and so I'm going to bait the audience right here, because I'm going to have you on my other show, Q&A with Koloff, which I don't even know some of the Man Up listeners even are aware that I even have that show.
You have to go on the Truth Network, Truth app, download the Truth app, and it's where I give others the opportunity to ask me questions like that, so I have an answer to that question, but this is going to prompt people to go over to the Q&A show with Eugene Napoleon and get the answer to that question. Hey, Eugene, here's the deal, here's what's even more perfect about that question is, in the old wrestling days, on our wrestling shows, people get so mad because we'd have a cliffhanger at the end of every show. Like, there'd be a match going on, like maybe it was Ivan and I wrestling in the Rock and Roll Express on the syndicated show, and Tony Schiavone or one of the announcers, Bob Caudill, and one of them would go, we're out of time, we're out of time, and people are like, no, I've got to find out what happened in the match. Who won? Who lost? Right?
So this is that cliffhanger right there. Hey, if you want the answer to Eugene's question he just asked, you're going to have to go look up the Q&A with Koloff. So great question, but I'm going to segue into, with that question though, I'm going to segue into this, you have quite a bit of relatability in that I will say yes, I absolutely was a football player, and so that athleticism did translate or transfer into the ring. I'll give them that much of an answer to that, and so looking back, and you mentioned some great names, right, the Road Warriors, Animal and Hawk, who were dear personal friends, and of course so many others, right?
Ricky the Dragon, Steamboat, Ravishing Rick Rude, of course that guy that will go woo all the time, I don't know if anyone out there listening knows who we're talking about or referring to, but he had blonde hair. Had a chance to meet him several times, yes. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding, I'm kidding.
No disrespect to the nature boy. Someone asked me the other day, did you ever wrestle him? I go, are you kidding?
I go, probably a couple hundred times, I don't even remember how many times I wrestled Rick. But some of the other relatability, so I'm going to go back to your story here for a second, Eugene, so one of seven siblings, and man, for your mom, Eugene, I'm hearing, and by the way, so raised by a single mom, or was your dad in your life? Pretty much, you know, my dad was in my life sparingly, but yeah, raised by a single mom, Christian background, my mother was actually the mother of my brother's church, my brother was a bishop, and the interesting thing was, again, coming from Jersey City, you know, it's a tough spot to grow up in.
I bet. And I came from one of the toughest projects in the state, Marion Garden projects, which still to this day is one of the roughest places to grow up in, so my mom, based on faith and the belief of, look, you have to do the right things to navigate, you know, these areas, and that's just the way I was raised. And again, I thank God for an area in the community that they saw something in me early on, so for instance, whoever was doing whatever they was doing that wasn't exactly the right things to do, I never got caught up in that part of it, but I thank God that there was a structure almost in place when I call it a street code, where, look, this guy has a lot of potential. So almost in a protective way, we're going to make sure that he makes it out of here, basically, you know what I mean?
Wow. It sounds corny, but the street code has laws and values too, believe it or not, and in most inner cities, if you see someone that's striving to do the right things, nine times out of ten, if you're blessed to have some discernment, and if you're blessed to be self-disciplined, and you can stay away from those things, you do get the presence of those people who are saying, we want to see him make it. I've had a few of the older population tell me, listen, man, you've got a lot of potential, you've got a lot of skill, we want to see you make it. And they were very honest about, we made some poor mistakes, poor decisions that led into some major mistakes in our life, we want to see you do the right things. We want to see you succeed.
Absolutely, absolutely. So here again, there's some more relatability between our stories and being single mom, raised by a single mom, and you may or may not know, Eugene, my early life started in the projects of Minneapolis. So you're in the projects of Jersey, I'm in the projects of Minneapolis, and looking back on it, faced with somewhat, you might say, the same dilemma, right?
Which path, do I go down this path of destruction and join the gangs and do all that, or do I make something positive with my life? And of course, relatable to you is sports then became an outlet for me. My mom eventually got us out of the projects to the suburbs where I picked up a muscle magazine called Iron Man, there's a whole story there, that then weightlifting and eventually football became my passion, my love, and just what consumed me. And which all eventually led into professional wrestling and fast forward down the road, but let me ask you this too, because man, I'm listening to your story, seven siblings, but your mom, you said, correct me if I'm wrong, had to bury five of your seven siblings. Yeah. And the old adage, or I guess not adage, but people say, a parent should never have to bury their child, right?
But yet here, your mom has had to bury five. Eugene, my goodness, can talk just a minute about that. I mean, wow. You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. Nikita Koloff here, and I am excited. Did you hear the huge announcement, the big announcement?
Well, maybe it's a minor announcement. Anyway, Facebook, go look up my new fan page, Nikita Koloff Fans, and like it and follow today. If you would like to support Koloff for Christ Ministries, for a gift of $25, Nikita will send you his two CDs, Adoration and Declaration. For a gift of $50, Nikita will include his book Wrestling with Success. And for a gift of $100 or more, Nikita will include a signed copy of his newly updated life story, A Tale of the Ring and Redemption. Go to www.koloff.net and donate today.
You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. My mother, God bless her, she passed in 2008. God calls her home.
Let me tell you something. My mother was from King Street, South Carolina, a southern belleth, if you will, the strongest woman I've ever met in my life. Because my mother never complained about anything. She never complained. Her prayer of faith was always, you know, I thank you, God, these are your children, not mine.
I thank you for lending them to me. And it's an interesting belief system and understanding that, you know, she always told us, you know, you don't come to live forever. So I grew up understanding, I guess it's weird to say it this way, but I grew up understanding what death was all about. And I grew up understanding that, you know, the faith and knowing that there is a higher power, understanding, you know, God prevails in all negative and positive things. Because all of it is a teachable learning moment, right? So in each death, which was interesting, I learned how to live a little bit better, if that makes sense.
So my mom wouldn't have it any other way. You know, the sad part about, I went to Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, when I came out of high school. One of the top, you know, recruits in the entire country back in 1985.
And Pitt was always my dream school because of Tony Dorsett. So my oldest, I go there, you know, my freshman year, my oldest sister, you know, Lidl, just came back that Friday, clean bill of health from the doctor. We were on the phone that Saturday night, Sunday night, excuse me, Sunday night, talking about her coming to the following week.
We were playing Boston College at Pitt. And I get the phone and she's on the phone with all my freshman teammates and everything like that. And my two roommates and just having, she had a great sense of humor, so just having a ball.
I get the phone call, probably mid-afternoon Monday, from my mom. My mom always, great sense of humor, with laughing on the phone. And then all of a sudden, in her voice, she gets a little serious. And she says, you know, we don't all come to live forever.
With that tone, I already knew instantly that something was wrong. So she asked me, what are you doing? Are you sitting down?
Are you standing? I said, I'm actually by the window. So she goes, well, get away from the window and have a seat.
I want to talk to you about something. And the conversation shifted from laughter to her being a lot more serious in the tone of her voice. And she said, listen, they rushed your sister, Lidl, to the hospital a few hours ago and she didn't make it.
And I'm like, huh? It just didn't resonate. She didn't make it. I just talked to her a few hours ago.
What do you mean? My sister died at 32 of an aneurysm of the brain. And left, you know, three. She left my nephew, Wade, who's the oldest. My niece, Robin, who's the middle child.
And then at the time, Joseph, who was the baby boy, the youngest. I could not, let me tell you something, I could not fathom. I just couldn't understand it. You know, just blew me away. Blew me away.
So, you know, I'll say this on your show. A lot of people didn't know why I transferred and left Pittsburgh. But the way they handled her death was the biggest reason why I left Pitt, why I transferred from the University of Pittsburgh.
I just did not like the way her death was handled. I realized at that point what major college, the business of major college sports was all about. Didn't know it up until that point. But that experience really changed my whole perspective and understanding of business in general.
But especially of major college sports. And to watch my mom go through that and navigate that, it was truly amazing because it came out of nowhere. It just came out of nowhere. You know, it was a shock. To all of us. You know what I mean?
Yeah. Well, it sounds like a couple things. One, your mom truly was an amazing woman. And Eugene, listening to your server, I think for our listeners out there to come from the projects of New Jersey and her being such a strong woman of faith and others, even running in those circles, seeing potential in you. There's a whole message there, a whole other show that we could talk about that. The potential in you that you could succeed. And you did.
You went off to college. And the other thing that comes to mind is, you know, the Bible and scriptures, no promise of tomorrow, right? So whether it's an aneurysm, you know, at age 32 or whatever the case may be for you listening out there, just realize if you don't have a relationship, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, there is no promise of tomorrow. And it may not be an aneurysm for you. It may be some other, something, anything, fill in the blank. It could be a car wreck. It could be anything, right?
You just never know. Massive heart attack as we see happen quite frequently now or whatever. So let me, Eugene, so you go off to college. You have that career. You go off into professional. So sports becomes an outlet.
You go off into professional sports. Give us, let's shift here and give us a little quick backdrop on post-college and your athletic career. Oh, yeah, definitely.
Definitely. So I wound up getting, I wound up getting hurt. My senior year in high school, I had had stretch ligaments in my right ankle. So wound up rehabbing that and again, being one of the top recruits in the country and wound up going to Pitt and then transferring to West Virginia. Had a really good career at WVU. And then I didn't get drafted into the NFL draft.
It was projected to go mid to late rounds. But again, being injured my senior year, I wound up going undrafted. So Major Harris, my guy, super number nine, as we called him, my quarterback of West Virginia, happened to have been playing in the AFL. Gives me a call and it was, I got to give him credit. It was him that really introduced me to the Arena Football League. And it took two shots for me to take a shot to one even go down the Tampa Bay.
They called me twice. And I just didn't see a natural fit for me because I'm a tailback by nature. So in the AFL, you know, they don't have tailbacks. They have a fullback that doubles as a Mike linebacker.
I'm not, you know, back then I was about maybe 180, 511, 180. So I'm like, there's no way I'm going to play somebody's linebacker in the Arena Football League. So the only natural transition for me was to be a kickoff return specialist and then on defense play corner and on offense play slot receiver. So again, I thank God for the athletic ability to do those things. But that's where the, you know, the Arena Football League fit in for me.
And here's what's funny. Had a successful rookie year. We wound up, I played for Tampa Bay.
That's where my career started. And then I wound up going over to Orlando mid-season. Never lost a game. When I was with Tampa, we were undefeated. I knew they were good.
Yeah. We were undefeated, wound up playing Detroit in the Arena Bowl championship. We lost that.
It's the only game I lost my rookie year and wound up getting a shot to go to Canada. And here's what's funny. Doke will laugh about this. I wind up going to Charlotte, hanging out with Doke.
I negotiated my CFL contract in Doke's condo in Charlotte. Wow. Wow.
Yeah. So what a great, you know, he's always been pivotal in seemingly those huge decisions in my life, man. So that's how far we go back. So I wound up going to Canada. I'm up there for training camp, mini camp and all that good stuff. And I did not make the final roster.
I went to the very last cut. They had a tailback at the time, which was pretty daggone good. And unbeknownst to me, they said he was going to be released or they were going to trade him. But I guess because he had a pretty good veteran career up there, they didn't they couldn't get the kind of money that they want in a trade. And they couldn't keep three American tailbacks on the roster at the time. So I wanted to be in the odd man out, which was fine.
God always has a plan. So I came back to the states, wound up getting another contract in the AFL. And it's funny is all get out. I go back after saying I was going to retire from football and just go back to teaching and go back to the music entertainment industry, which I'm currently in for the last 27 years.
And dope was a part of that as well. Ironically enough, I get hurt in camp in my my comeback to the AFL hurt the lower part of my back. And I'm asking God, give me a sign. Maybe this is just, you know, after having a nice run at it, my rookie year, maybe this is a sign for me to do something else.
And lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. We're playing in the exhibition game in California and I was all jacked up at a lower lower back injury. I had a pull, a hamstring, a pull, a quad muscle. Ankle was all messed up.
I just couldn't move the way that I'd normally move. Now in my prime and in my health, I'm a 4-2-5, 4-3 flat guy in the 40. I set the record at West Virginia, 425 pounds at 175 pounds. Natural squatting, 600 pounds.
Natural. These are things that as a smaller running back helped me to elude and do the things I did in my throughout my whole athletic career. But now when you're stripped of those things due to injury, you're like a sitting duck out there. So for me, I'm like, you know what, let me go ahead and actively retire and then go into these other fields.
So that's what I did. So I know you mentioned teaching, mentioned music. How can others connect with Eugene Napoleon or find out more? Yeah, the website EugeneNapoleon.com. Eugene, thank you. Thank you as well for tuning in to another episode of the Man Up Show with the Russian nightmare, Nikita Kolov. And until next time, God bless you.
Have an amazing day. This podcast is made possible by the grace of God and your faithful prayers, support and generous gifts. May God bless you for your continual contributions. Go to Kolov.net and donate today.
Hi, Nikita Kolov. Be sure to check out the Man Up Show now available on television, broadcast and podcast. Go to MorningStarTV.com or the Truth Radio Network. Check out your local listings or better yet, download the Truth Network app today. If you are enjoying the Man Up Show, would you help us spread the word? Tell your family, tell your friends, tell your neighbors to download, subscribe and leave a comment. Nikita Kolov here.
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