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Notes from Roland Bocks biography


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So I recently got my hand on the biography of Roland Bock, the man who destroyed Inoki so bad the Japanese still put him in Fire Pro Returns 30 years later. The book is in German and was written by the same guy who did the Rene Lasartesse biography, and there are some interesting bits on German wrestling as well as a very deep dive into Bocks psyche.

- Roland Bock was born 1944. His earliest childhood was characterized by his mother having to hide with him in bunkers while bombs dropped on the town. At one point his mother had to give him to another woman because she was unable to produce enough breastmilk to feed him due to the general lack of food at the end of the war.

- Bocks biological father was a monster, who tried to drown young Roland in the bathtub when Roland was an infant. Bock only met his biological father once as a teenager and immediately identified him as the mysterious person from that nightmarish memory. Roland also had a brother and a sister.

- Bocks grandfather was also a very evil and violent man, and probably the only person that Bock ever feared. One thing that he did was torture young Roland by sending him down to the basement and then turning the lights off, a traumatic memory that would haunt Bock for a long time. The grandfather was an undertaker, which is why it stung Bock that he was later given the nickname "Undertaker" in wrestling. However the grandfather drunkenly slipped one night, breaking his neck.

- Bocks grandmother and mother were also very harsh, although they were largely influenced by his grandfather and eased up when he died and Roland forgave his mother. Back then it was normal to beat your kids and they would also get beaten in school. Roland recalls getting beaten with a wooden spoon to the point he was bleeding among other things. However, as he grew bigger he would learn to stop adults from beating him. On one occasion he challenged an abusive teacher to a wrestling match to show him he would no longer let himself get stepped on. The teacher agreed and Roland wiped the floor with him. His mothers husband was also a good man who accepted Roland and his brother as his children even though he wasn't their biological father, and never beat them.

- Bock was recruited to his towns wrestling team after he bested one of their wrestlers in a streetfight. He also practised other sports like basketball and volleyball. He soon became very succesful in wrestling, doing well in international tournaments, with his biggest success being him winning the European championship in Greco Roman wrestling in 1970, where he among others defeated the at the time world champion Alexandar Tomow. However, Roland had nervous issues which troubled him in competitive matches as well as his childhood trauma haunting him. He also felt that amateur wrestlers were treated poorly. They tried to fix his nervous issues by giving him pills and juicing him, whereas he felt the Soviets took better care of their athletes mental health. He also received a lot of hostility for switching to another wrestling team, and describes how his rival Wilfried Dietrich received death threats over similiar things.

- after a falling out with the president of the German wrestlers organization, Bock was not nominated for the olympic games and burned his bridge to wrestling. His greatest rival in amateur wrestling was Wilfried Dietrich. Despite that they had a friendly relationship, and Bock felt that Dietrich was treated poorly by the German public despite his legendary achievements.

- after he quit amateur wrestling, Bock was introduced to a pro wrestling booker by a BILD reporter. The booker, Maxe Krüger, was described as the boss of a larger wrestling organization, the VDB, but came across as very sketchy and carny. Krüger had a rough voice and he would tell everybody that he got it when Rene Lasartesse used his throat kneedrop on him. However Bock had hung out with pimps, prostitutes and shady people in his home town, so he knew how to deal with these kind of people.

- Bock was skeptical of pro wrestling, but he wanted to earn money, so he agreed to fight in one of the tournaments. His training was brief and mostly about learning how to bump, run the ropes and not break your back on the ring apron when falling out the ring. Bock had his first match where his opponent was supposed to get DQd in the 3rd round, but Bock just started to shoot suplex him moments into the match and the ref had to stop the match in the first round. After the match the booker was furious with Bock and explained to him that he can't just destroy everyone to avoid injuries and also to help with long term story telling and booking.

- the German bookers seemed to have a good idea of storytelling and matchmaking. The book mentions how they would use double DQs to set up rematches, do injury and authority angles, book gimmick matches, have top heels etc. They also taught Roland about selling, and that matches need to have ups and downs and buildups.

- another interesting thing was that the modus operandi of the VDB was to find local money marks who would shoulder the costs. So they would have a mark playing the promoter while the VDB matchmaker booked the wrestlers and ran the show. They also called marks "gadsche" and the mark paying the bills was a "Lobi-Mann".

- Bock didn't like wrestling much at first, but he fast grew fascinated with how the wrestlers controlled crowds and told stories, as they did a "theatre of bodies". Bock especially respected Rene Lasartesse, who didn't have much legit skill, but could drive crowds into a frenzy with his body language and a handful of moves.

- Bocks ring style was very uncooperative. He felt he would lose his face being a legit greco roman champion if he got thrown by a random, so often he would just block throws and throw the other guy, and generally be a stiff cunt. He was a top 10 amateur wrestler in the world and 120 kgs, so there wasn't really anyone around to stop him.

- Bock ended up working for promoter Gustl Kaiser, who wanted to run more serious pro wrestling. Kaiser told Bock to tone down the "Catch" moves and do more real wrestling in his matches.

- one guy who forced Bock to work hard was George Gordienko. Gordienko was a huge and legit skillful guy and their matches were very shoot-like with little show moves.

- one night, Bock felt Gordienko was trying to fuck with him. Bock defended himself and twisted up Gordienkos leg, injuring him. Bock had a bad conscience over doing that and visited Gordienko in the hospital, were Gordienko confessed that Kaiser had told him to humble Roland. However, the two ended up forgiving each other. Bock quit working for Kaiser, but he would continue to work with Gordienko.

- Bock wanted to run his own shows. Because Antonio Inoki got world famous fighting Ali, Bock decided Inoki would be the best opponent. When Bock travelled to Japan and saw the Japanese style of wrestling, he was highly impressed. He also saw how professional New Japan was as opposed to the carny German promoters, and decided he wanted to run his own version of New Japan. He would show tapes of NJPW to investors.

- the tour with Inoki cost 5 million DM, with 1 million DM alone going to Inoki and New Japan. Bock and his partners could barely scrap the money together and often had to borrow money from shady underworld people. Unfortunately the tour didn't do well as Bock had booked very large buildings. For example, one show drew 2500 people but was considered a disappointment as that was only about a third of the capacity.

- Bock was able to bring in guys like Karl Mildenberger (boxer who thought Ali) and Wilfried Dietrich to face Inoki. However, both of them were scared that Inoki would mess them up, and Mildenberger was very old and out of shape. Their matches ended up not being good due to the mistrust, and Inoki/Dietrich ended in an ugly scene where Inoki fell out the ring and some fans in attendance started kicking him. Inoki fled backstage. Bock claims the Japanese film crew filmed every match Inoki had on that tour but Im not sure since we've only seen the Mildenberger and Bock matches.

- even though the tour was financially a disaster, the final match where Bock fought Inoki for the WWU title in Stuttgart was a good moment since Bock got to have his heroic moment in front of his family in a sold out stadium. They decided to have the match go 10 rounds and have Bock win via judges decision so Inoki could save face since Inoki didn't want to get pinned by Bock. There's a video of the match and even though it looks like Bock was eating alive, Bock describes it as not being very malevolent towards Inoki and that he also got punished by Inokis stiffness. This was also a match that good reviews from the German press due to the realistic style and stiffness.

- after the Inoki tour, the other shows Bock promoted weren't very successful. He did a tour with  New Japan where he met Stan Hansen and another Inoki match and then decided to quit wrestling, questioning if he ever truely belonged in this world. He received 80 000 DM from NJPW and hid the money in Hong Kong. Later, he was jailed for all the debt he made with the Inoki tour, and never found the Hong Kong money again. Once again, Bock noticed how well wrestlers in Japan were treated while nobody in Germany cared about them.


Before, during and after wrestling, Bock was a grandiose businessman with some absurd and some genius ideas. Among his projects were:

- owning several steakhouses and a hotel

- promoting man vs. bear wrestling matches (usually having local folks challenge a bear and then wrestling the bear himself)

- promoting topless womens boxing where all the boxers were given gimmicks similiar to GLOW (something that was quickly sabotaged by feminist activists)

- running two very large discos

- living in Thailand (to hide from German tax authorities) and importing cement from Thailand and later Indonesia to Europe (something he claims was sabotaged by a global cement cartel)

- buying a bullfighting arena in Gran Canaria and wanting to turn it into a huge concert stadium and later into a refuge for Hong Kong businessmen

- acting in a movie with Gerard Depardieu (he regrets not dabbling into movies further)

- selling shoe trees


He now lives a rather modest life in Stuttgart and needs crutches to walk.

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