Harley Race might seem slow and prodding to modern fans who only know him from his late ‘80s WWF run or as Vader’s manager in early ‘90s WCW. But if you made a list of all the true badasses in pro wrestling history, he might very well rank #2 (behind Haku, of course).
Fight: Harley Race vs Civilian
Date: 1996 – 1999 (exact date unknown)
Location: Kansas City area in Missouri
Source: “King of the Ring” by Harley Race autobiography, Armpit reader Mario Logan
Harley Race’s stories of winning bar fights and street fights have been legendary in the business for decades. Along with Haku, the only other man Andre the Giant ever feared was Harley Race. On top of that, he was a world class worker in the ring. There’s a reason Race is universally well respected by both his peers and fans. The biggest mark for Race was of course HHH, who idolized him as a kid growing up.
Race was unfortunately in a bad car accident in 1995, with injuries severe enough that he could no longer even be a manager. It was dually frustrating, as Race also had a bad car accident decades ago that killed his wife just weeks after they had been married. He ended up working as a process server in the Kansas City area from 1996 to 1999, in what would’ve been the height of the Monday night wars.
As a process server, he had interesting experiences. Many of the folks recognized him and wanted autographs, and others were shocked to see such an area legend serving them papers. He had a 100% success rate as a process server, meaning he was able to locate the recipients (around 500 in all) and successfully deliver them papers, all without incident.
One fellow was trying to dodge him as Race came after him, so the guy jumped in his car and tried to speed off. This particular individual had been problematic for the courts, so they put Race on the job. He contacted his employer and was able to track him down.
Harley Race threw the court summons at him, and the law says as long as someone touches the papers, he/she is considered to have been served. The papers touched him, and he was furious. He pulled over and got out of the car and came at Race.
The poor sap threw a punch at Race. Remember, Race had been in a bad car accident and had numerous injuries that made it hard for him to move around easily. The punch was slow and relatively soft, and Harley’s experience in bar fights enabled him to deflect the punch so it wouldn’t connect. Race then “Slapped the shit out of that bastard.”
As a process server, he wasn’t allowed to physically restrain anyone. But this was self defense, so he felt comfortable slapping him without fear of losing his job. He went on to state that if it was any other situation, “I would have done a lot more than just bitch-slap the guy.”
Longtime wrestling fans love stories like this, because we love knowing that the toughs guys we grew up watching can still kick ass, even when they’re older and retired. Kudos to Race for slapping around the coward who tried to run from the courts, and as far as we’re all concerned, he got off easy and could’ve (and perhaps should’ve) gotten a much more serious beating if it was a different time and place.