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Exclusive Interview: 11 Questions With Bob Sapp

(Bob, what is best in life? ”To crush your enemies, see them [pile-]driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” Photo courtesy of UPI)

With a decade-long career that has included pro-wrestling, MMA, kickboxing, and acting, Bob Sapp is one of the most iconic entertainers in combat sports. Sapp returns to the big screen in the new remake of Conan the Barbarian — which hits theaters today — as the villainous tribal leader Ukafa. We caught up with the Beast last night to discuss everything from Conan to Mike Tyson to Beast-endorsed sex toys. Enjoy…

CAGEPOTATO.COM: Hey Bob, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Where are you right now?
BOB SAPP: I’m in Dubai, doing some training for my next WKA kickboxing fight, August 26th in Germany. My opponent is Florian “Faust” Pavic. I am 100% healthy, so you’ll see me going old-school with a lot of big punches.

Tell me a little about the character you play in Conan the Barbarian.
Ukafa is basically a big, brute, bully guy. He’s a non-talkative guy, because he’d rather talk with actions than words. You can see how strong he is, especially at the beginning when he actually tackles a real horse. I didn’t do any comedy in this one — it’s strictly a serious role, straight action and adventure. So I consider this role to be very similar to the one I played in Elektra with Jennifer Garner a few years back.

Being in these action films seems like such a natural fit for you, because your career in the fight business straddled the line of sport and entertainment. When you were fighting in Japan for PRIDE and K-1, did you view yourself more as an athlete or as an entertainer?
I guess it would kind of depend on what I was doing. It started to blur the lines a little bit. I think it’s safe to say that I viewed myself more as an entertainer than a pure athletic fighter. Because even during my fights I would make them entertaining on purpose. We actually had a couple fighters who were doing that — you remember Sudo Genki was doing some of that with his entrances.

Your first foray into combat sports after your pro football career was your Toughman match against William “Refrigerator” Perry. How did that come about?
I was with WCW, they went bankrupt, and they ended up calling a friend of mine, Steve Emtman, and asked him to box Refrigerator Perry. Steve had no interest in boxing, but he thought a better story line would be, former Chicago Bear who worships Refrigerator Perry and ended up getting released his first year, would like to go back and get revenge on the team, and in order to get revenge on the team, he will have to take out America’s Cutest Big Man. [Perry] was my idol, too, I had his jersey number in high school. It was hard to fight him. I was like, “Man, I can’t believe I’m beating up the guy, and he’s the reason why I played football.” It was crazy.

I’m guessing that’s not the the first time you had to beat somebody’s ass. Was fighting a regular occurrence when you were growing up in Colorado?
When I played football, I was the one who would be getting in all these fights during practice. One time, I actually got so angry that I took my right hand up and ripped my face-mask off of my helmet. I’ve always been pretty big and strong. I can remember the coach saying, “Well that’s good because now you gotta play like that and it’s gonna be pretty scary,” and it sure was. So, I didn’t do that anymore.

At the height of your success, there seemed to be an entire industry devoted to you and your merchandise. How crazy did that get for you? Were you ready for that kind of fame?
I guess I was as ready as you ever can be. Of course nobody can be ready for over 400+ products made with your name, likeness, and image, and hundreds of commercials. When I was in the NFL I ended up being a bad investor and lost all my money, but I was able to make some better choices the second time around. So when I saw the big money coming in again, I knew exactly what to do. I paid off my home and concentrated on paying off every bill that I had. I’m completely debt-free at this point.

What was your favorite piece of Bob Sapp merchandise?
The most unique piece of course is the Bob Sapp women’s vibrator, and they actually asked me if I’d come back and do another one — this time they want to use my head. That was the most unusual piece, but the one that I thought was really cool was the Casio watch, where my entire face would light up.

How aggressive did the fans get in Japan?
One time a bunch of girls took their clothes off and jumped on top of my taxi cab. That was pretty funny. Another time, there was a huge mob of fans who wanted to get at me, and they ran all the way over to me and pushed over this guy who was physically challenged. I thought he was in trouble so I went over to pick him up, and he said “thank you very much.” And as I picked him up he took my picture. That was the funniest thing I’d seen in a long time.

How upset were you that you never got to fight Mike Tyson?
Oh, extremely. I thought that was a great storyline, traditional boxing vs. kickboxing. The problem is, sometimes with K-1, they’d find one thing that works and they want that same thing to work with everyone. So then you later saw that they were stating, “Hong Man Choi‘s gonna fight Mike Tyson, Jerome Lebanner’s gonna fight Mike Tyson, Mirko Cro Cop’s gonna fight Mike Tyson.” It ended up getting a bit crazy, and they were never able to concentrate and remain focused on one thing. They just confused everybody. And unfortunately Mike Tyson was unable to get into Japan because of the things he’d done in his past.

You were supposed to appear in the last K-1 Dynamite!! New Year’s Eve show, but pulled out after a money dispute. The story went that you showed up and they tried to give you half of what they originally offered you. Has Japanese MMA always been corrupt?
It’s never been corrupt. I can remember when they were really honorable. I fought Mirko Cro Cop, and although I didn’t have any time to relax, because I was working 24/7, it was wonderful to see — they basically picked up my entire tab for the injury. How wonderful is that? Fast forward to the present, and you have somebody who goes in there and gets injured, their insurance forms tell them that if they get injured they’ll be taken care of, and as soon as they get injured, K-1 tells them that’s a pre-existing injury and you don’t have to treat them. There was some really naughty, nasty, disgusting stuff.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to listen to Mr. Tanikawa when he says “K-1′s gonna be fine, we’re gonna be fine,” and then the next day he’s like “we need investors, we need investors,” and the next day later, “we will hold events, we will hold events,” and after that, “we need investors, we need investors” — you start to think, well, which is it? If you’re holding events, why don’t you pay all your debts to these fighters who haven’t gotten paid?

The sad part is, you have some guys who are 20-year veterans in there fighting, and they haven’t gotten paid for fighting five or six times. In the fight game, you’re going to end up receiving some damage in a fight. So it’s really disappointing when you look online and see so many keyboard warriors speaking ill of the fighters, and knowing that they’re giving and receiving brain damage for your sakes, and the only thing they get out of it is disrespect. They gotta deal with that, and then they gotta turn around and get hit with the fact that they aren’t getting paid any money? That really stings, it really hurts.

After nine years in the fight game, do you have any regrets?
No, I have no regrets, I would do it all over again. And hey, I’m still running around here and kicking. Now, it’s just in an entirely wholesome way.

— Ben Goldstein

Cagepotato Comments

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Violent By Design- August 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm
I've always liked Bob Sapp, say what you will about him as a fighter, but he does hold 2 dominating wins over one of the greatest kickboxers of all time.
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djp1988- August 21, 2011 at 8:32 pm
Every time I load up Cagepotato, this is on the front page. The only thought I have is "Was Bob Sapp in Goodburger? I think Bob Sapp was in Goodburger.".
Hank Mardukis- August 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm
Seems like a good dude. Great interview ben. Bob Sapp Face Vibrator FTW!

"He broked'd my orbital!"
mt59801- August 20, 2011 at 5:38 pm
BOB is/was one of the biggest draws in Japan, that's why he is still relevant. Not to mention he's funny as shit. Hopefully there's a fan ? interview in the near future.
Walrus- August 20, 2011 at 5:28 pm
Good interview
Evan Tanner- August 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm
Nogueira vs. Sapp - classic, and to all the hating coulda, never, woulda shoulda losers keep watching and talking, cuz thats all ur good for
gesus47- August 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm
can the next caption contest prize be this mystical bob sapp big bald head vibrator??
k-onda- August 20, 2011 at 9:52 am
I can't understand why anyone would have a problem with Bob Sapp, like someone else said, he's entertaining. He's likeable and kinda funny, and not to be taken too seriously.
Anyway, what was that about a vibrator being made in his image?
Fatty McDickbutts- August 20, 2011 at 6:32 am
Dojima wins.

Fuck the Bob Sapp haters, he's the black Brock Lesnar of Pride!
Dojima- August 20, 2011 at 12:10 am
The Beast, Bobbi!! Sapp-uh!!!

Japan loves this dude more than pachinko and tentacle sex.
XENOPHON- August 19, 2011 at 8:38 pm
"...tackles a real horse..."
OK, I changed my mind, I'm going to see Conan.
Glad to hear the big man shored up his assets the second time around, been there done that.
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dcmsm- August 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm
nice interview
Vanillagorilla69- August 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm
I would love for anyone to say ANYTHING to him in person.
Hinarf- August 19, 2011 at 3:33 pm
I'm sure if his character had lines............OSCAR!
jibbo13- August 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm
c'mon people, its not like cage potato interviewed jose canseco. bob is great entertainment value, cool interview too! the only thing letting this site down right now is the comment section
Passive jay- August 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Thats a bit harsh, he is just a guy trying to get by in life. Yeah he sucks at fighting but like it or not he is an important part of MMA history. Or did he do something really shitty that I am unaware of?
Kid Clam Curtains- August 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm
Question 12: Why is this big shitbag waste of space being interviewed on an MMA site?
Goat- August 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm
Bob Sapp do what Bob Sapp do because Bob Sapp just do.