As one-half of the most popular wrestling tag teams of all-time, Luke Williams -- also known as Bushwhacker Luke -- made his in-ring debut in the early 1960s. Williams and partner Bushwhacker Butch were long-established as a top tag team before coming to the WWF in 1988. Williams, who continues to wrestle and make regular personal appearances, was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2015 alongside Bushwhacker Butch.
When traveling to Clearwater, Florida this month for a press trip, I had the pleasure of visiting Hulk Hogan's Beach Shop. Just steps away from Hogan's store is Clearwater Beach Fitness, which is owned by Bushwhacker Luke. Imagine my surprise, when visiting the gym on a Sunday morning, to find Williams himself in its office.
Bushwhacker Luke Williams kindly agreed to do an impromptu interview with me about the gym and the Clearwater area, and highlights from that chat are below. More on Clearwater Beach Fitness can be found online at www.clearwaterbeachfitness.org.
What brought you to Clearwater, Florida in the first place?
Luke Williams: I was working with [the] NWA and was living in Charlotte, and then we got booked by WWF and [Hulk] Hogan's the one who said, "Move here to the beaches." I'd live in Tampa before in the early 80s when I was working for Florida Championship Wrestling before all the territories were swallowed up by WWF. I'd never lived on the beaches.
Terry [Hogan] said, "Come over, move over here, this is the place." I've been here ever since, except I had a 10-year stint down in Puerto Rico, working Central America and the Caribbean. But I've been here mostly.
So tropical climates are your favorite places to be...
Luke Williams: Yeah, well I came over here from New Zealand. My first port of entry was Canada and I worked across Canada and I had enough of that snow. That was in the early 70s, right? I had enough of that bloody killing, the weather and that. And I worked all around the country for different promoters in the days of the territories, and as you get older this is the place. It's a beautiful place to be.
When did you acquire this gym?
Luke Williams: I came back from Puerto Rico in 2012 and then I took over this gym in January 2013. The gym has been here, but it was run down. Believe it or not, it had six different owners in 12 years. I've been here for six years.
To you, the great photos you have on the wall, what makes it better than other gyms?
Luke Williams: This is the last of the old-school gyms. It's a personalized gym and the local people come in and they all know each other because they've been coming here for years. Then the rest of the rest of the people are tourists, most of them come because they see my name there and they want to meet me and then workout.
Most of the people who are bodybuilding, they watched wrestling in the era of the 80s and 90s, you know? That era is remembered because that is an era of WWE with the characters.
Are there any other projects that you're working on? Or things that you'd like me to mention besides the gym?
Luke Williams: No, not many other projects, mate. I still go out on the road for personal appearances and I'm still in the ring wrestling. So that's about it, and you know, the gym. The website is clearwaterbeachfitness.org and the Twitter and Facebook is [under] "Clearwater Beach Fitness" -- it's the only gym like it that's left.