Jack Swagger is patriotism writ extra large. The 6’7″ 260-pound former heavyweight champion from the heartland bleeds red, white and blue. Just ask him, he’ll tell you. Heck, you don’t even have to ask.
The former collegiate wrestling All-American combines strength, technique and experience — not to mention personality — into an intimidating force in the ring. But what do we the people know about Swagger outside the squared circle?
Here are nine things you didn’t know about Jack Swagger.
1. Jack Swagger was born Jacob Hager and grew up in Perry, Oklahoma, a small town located an hour north of Oklahoma City. He started wrestling at the age of five and continued through high school, where he also played football. Wrestling at 215 pounds, Swagger was an All-American Scholar his junior and senior years.
2. Hager played two sports at the University of Oklahoma before focusing on wrestling. He was an All-American as a heavyweight his senior year, recording 30 pins — a single-season record.
3. Hager has a finance degree from Oklahoma and had lined up a job in the field upon graduation in 2006. But a contract from the WWE arrived on the day he was due to start, and he backed out of the finance job.
4. Using his own name, Hager debuted that September in Deep South Wrestling, then a developmental territory for WWE. When WWE and Deep South Wrestling parted ways in 2007, Hager moved to Ohio Valley Wrestling then Florida Championship Wrestling. He beat Ted DiBiase, Jr. in early 2008 to become FCW Heavyweight Champion.
5. Still a relative unknown, Hager showed up on RAW as a security guard for a John Cena-Umaga match in 2006. Many now-famous wrestlers have alsoappeared as security guards in their salad days, including Sheamus and Wade Barrett.
6. Jacob Hager moved to WWE’s version of ECW later that year, first adding “The All American” to his name, then becoming “The All American” Jack Swagger. He picked up his first win with the new name that September, quickly overpowering unknown Josh Daniels. Within a few months, he won the ECW World Heavyweight Championship.
7. Swagger has held the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which he won from Chris Jericho, and United States Championship, which he won from Zack Ryder.
8. Swagger teamed up with Antonio Cesaro to form the heal tag team The Real Americans in June of 2013. Each of the wrestlers, as the current events-tinged storyline went, is in the United States legally and was therefore a “real American.” The gimmick angered many conservatives who felt it’s message poked fun at the Tea Party.
9. Hager is married to Catalina White, a model who has been featured in Maxim, Complex and FHM. She appeared as Saylor James in FCW for a few months spanning 2008 and 2009, before she met Hager.
Norm Elrod likes sports and other sanctioned forms of craziness.