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SLAM! WRESTLING: Guest Columnist

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A bloody, but victorious Klondike Bill. Photos courtesy Scott Teal's Whatever Happened to ...? publication.
August 15, 2000

What Klondike Bill means to me

By RUSTY LOUDERMILK -- For SLAM! Wrestling

In pro wrestling, the line between fantasy and reality sometimes gets very lost. People in this industry do not know the difference between their in-ring persona and life outside of the ring. I have followed the industry since I was 5, now I am 31. I have met many people in this business who are very rude with seriously inflated egos, however there are many nice people too, who have been very special to my life.

One of those people is my friend Klondike Bill Soloweyko. I first met him in 1974 at the old NWA Mid-Atlantic Wrestling shows in Charlotte, NC. I was a friend of one of the Crocketts who owned the company at that time. I visited the dressing rooms many times and developed a friendship with Klondike. He reminded me of a father. I lived a very hard life being confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, I had no father, so wrestling became my way to have fun and forget all of my problems.

Bill is one of those people that I will never forget as long as I live. He cared about this business and gave 100% all the time. Most of all he cared about people outside of the ring.

I remember one time someone had found out that I did not do my school work for that week. Klondike in his own special way, with that huge smile that would light up the world and that fatherly tone said, "Son, schoolwork and your ability to accomplish things in life is more important than the wrestling biz." So he made me promise that the next time that he saw me backstage that I needed to have news for him that my school work had been completed. I started doing my work and my grades improved.

I feel that part of who I am today is because of the frienships from the past and present that I have made over the years. I will never forget that day when Klondike said that to me. It changed my life forever.

If every guy in the wrestling industry did in their life what Klondike did for me back then, the wrestling industry would be better than it is today.

Klondike did what was best for the business, often neglecting his own health and well-being. Klondike will never fully understand just how many lives he has touched. I feel that certain people are sent into your path in life by God to serve as mentors and to help people. I believe that God sent Klondike into my life, and if our paths never cross in life again I will always remember his unconditional friendship that he showed to me and millions of others around the world.

When the final chapter is written in a book about life, under his name it will say that Klondike Bill Soloweyko is a true "WORLD CHAMPION".

Bio: More on Klondike Bill
Story: Rallying around an ailing Klondike Bill


Rusty Loudermilk and can be reached by e-mail at RustyLoudermilk@webtv.net.

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