When We Were Bouncers: Tom Erikson
Actor/stuntman/fighter Paul “The Mauler” Lazenby has an awesome new Facebook page – When We Were Bouncers. Every Monday he presents a crazy new story from former security personnel who went on to become actors, fighters, comedians, pro wrestlers, stuntmen and other standouts in their chosen fields.
He recently sat down with superheavyweight two-time NCAA Division 1 All-American, two-time Olympic alternate, and MMA pioneer Tom “The Big Cat” Erikson.
DURING THE LATE 80s I was wrestling for Oklahoma State University and running the security staff at a place called The Fox in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The guys who owned The Fox were pretty industrious guys, and eventually they bought a club down in Norman [Oklahoma] and called it “The Fox” as well.
The University of Oklahoma was down there, and their football team was on fire — I believe they played Penn State for the national title that year. Barry Switzer was running things, and they had Keith Jackson, Brian Bosworth, Jamelle Holieway, Charles Thompson… they had a whole crew down there. Needless to say, that town REALLY catered to their football players.
It wasn’t long before the new Fox was doing really well, but it also had a problem with the football players kinda taking over the place. Bossing people around and such, it was becoming a little bit of an issue. One of the owners started saying to the football players, “Hey, I’ve got a guy up in Stillwater who will take care of you guys. [If] you don’t calm down, I’m gonna bring him down here.” But the players were cocky — they were like, “Yeah, right! You’re not bringing anybody here who we can’t handle.”
So the owner eventually did have me come down there, at first just to take a night off and have a good time while he showed off his big, bad wrestler. I met the football players and they were actually really good guys, but they were also… I don’t wanna say “bullies”… they were just knocking guys around and being very self-confident in a bad sort of way, you know? When they got rowdy I would joke around with ‘em, saying, “You guys are lucky I don’t work here”, but they weren’t believing it. “So what if you did? What are you gonna do?” I just smiled and told ‘em, “You’ll see if they ever bring me down here. You’ll find out.” After the bar closed that night, we went to some party and I ended up hanging out with a guy named Mark Hutson, a two-time All-American offensive lineman. Big ol’ dude and a good guy, too. Had a great time that night.
But a couple of weeks later, the boss called me up and said, “Come on out — the guys are still being a$$holes and I need you to set the tone”, so I got my work shirt and headed down there. All the players rolled in and said, “You’re not drinking with us?” and I said, “No, tonight I’m working — I gotta babysit you a$$holes.” And once again they all laughed, saying, “What are you gonna do?”
They congregated around a pool table at the back of the bar, and it didn’t take long before they were a problem. Knocked one of our waitresses over and spilled her drinks all over the place. That came out of the waitress’s pay so of course she was a little upset, and the boss said to me, “You gotta go talk to those guys”. I went back there to tell ‘em to knock it off, and as always, they weren’t hearin’ it.
So I said, “I’ll tell you what. There’s a whole bunch of you guys, and together you can definitely kick my ass. That’s a given. But here’s the thing — one of you is gonna get his ass kicked twice as bad as I get it. The first guy I get my hands on is the guy who’s gonna get it the worst, I can make that promise. I will get mine, but I’m gonna get one of you the worst.” They still laughed it off — after all, it was just me against ten of them — and about an hour later they pulled some more shit, and that was it.
I went back over there and said, “Enough. Somebody’s gotta go.” Now, I’m old school, so I was already sighting on the biggest and baddest dude in the group. If you’ve been around the block, you know that [if] you take out the big dog in any group, the rest will all lay down. In theory, anyway. (laughs)
In this case, the biggest, baddest dude was Mark Hutson, the guy I’d been drinking with the last time I was in there. He was drunk and out of control, just acting ridiculously stupid, and I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You gotta go.” All his boys started chirping in his ear about how he wasn’t going anywhere, how I couldn’t do a thing. But I could, and I did. I took Hutson’s arm — one hand on his wrist and the other on his shoulder — and started turning him toward the door. But he yanked himself away and squared up like he was gonna hit me, and everybody was like, “uh oh” as if it was the gunfight at the OK Corral.
Hutson clenched his fist and threw this big ol’ haymaker of a right, but I saw it coming and did a level change, ducking underneath it while throwing a right of my own. I wasn’t trying to punch him, just trying to get my arm up around his neck. His punch went over my head and I came up with my head behind his shoulder and my arm on his neck, then jumped up onto the side of his body and wrapped my legs around him. Almost like a rear naked choke, but more of a side choke. I locked my hands together and clamped down TIGHT, riding him all the way to the floor. He dropped to a knee but I wasn’t lettin’ go — I was determined to choke him all the way out. He eventually passed out and collapsed, and everybody who was watching was losing it. Back then most people weren’t familiar with chokes, so they all thought that I killed ‘im!
After I eventually let go, I put Hutson on his back, planted my knee in his chest and started slapping him in the face, “Wake up! Wake up!” When he opened his eyes I said, “I told you! I told you sonsabitches what I was gonna do, but you didn’t listen! You do it again and I’m gonna drag your ass right outta here!”
After that, the problem was over and we were the best of friends from then on! (laughs) In fact I created about twenty new bouncers that night, because after watching me choke out one of their big, bad dudes right in front of ‘em, they all knew the ass-beating they were gonna get if I REALLY got pissed off.
Check out www.facebook.com/FamousBouncers for more bouncer stories from stars in a wide variety of pursuits. For UG Blog excerpts for MMA Fighters, check out:
When We Were Bouncers: Paul Cheng
When We Were Bouncers: Shayna Baszler
When We Were Bouncers: Gary Myers
When We Were Bouncers: Jonathan Goulet
When We Were Bouncers: Gene LeBell
When We Were Bouncers: John Lober
When We Were Bouncers: Paul Varelans
When We Were Bouncers: Pat Miletich (someone gets attacked with a pitchfork)
When We Were Bouncers: Renzo Gracie (he bounced in a brothel at 14)