Men Jesse Ventura Photo By Cory Barnes Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence

Published on August 22nd, 2009 | by Yellow Magpie

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Jesse Ventura: Wrestler Turned Controversial Author and Politican

Jesse Ventura is one of Americas most fascinating political figures.  Known for his controversial views, Ventura has a pragmatic approach and has never been afraid to speak hide.

Born James George Janos, Jesse Ventura was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 15, 1951, to Bernice Martha and George William Janos. Under the adopted name Jesse Ventura, James has led a colourful and at times controversial life. Actor, politician, professional wrestler, Navy SEAL, television and radio presenter are just some of the many hats that Jesse has worn.

Jesse Ventura Early Life

Like most Americans, Ventura’s parents were immigrants.  His mother family came from Germany while his father parents were from modern-day Slovakia.  From 1969 to 1975 Ventura served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.  He became a Navy SEAL and was part of a Underwater Demolition Team.

In his book, Do I Stand Alone?: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals, Ventura reflects upon his time in SEAL training as the most difficult period in his life.  During his time with the US Navy Ventura was awarded two medals.  The National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal.

Ventura was briefly a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club in San Diego, California, for a nine month spell in 1973.  He also briefly served a spell as a bodyguard for the rock band Rolling Stones.  During the same period he began to wrestle and started a weight lifting regime. To further his education he also attended North Nennepin Community College in Minnesota.


Wrestling And The Body Persona

Ventura created the persona of Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura as a brash, bullying, ‘bleach blonde from California’. He picked the surname Ventura from a map of California.

A physically imposing man of 193 cm (6′ 4″), ‘The Body’ Ventura was one of the more memorable villians of  wrestling. ‘Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!’ became his calling card. He based his wrestling persona on the wrestler, ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham.

Jesse Ventura Stay Away From Steroids FDA

Jesse Ventura Stay Away From Steroids FDA

Ventura ended his wrestling career in 1984 when it was discovered he had blood clotting in his lungs. He maintained that these were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide and defoliant used by the United States army to reduce the dense foliage.  It claimed the lives of thousands of people in Vietnam due to exposure contamination and it continues to cause birth defects to this day.

However, Ventura has admitted taking anabolic steroids during his wrestling career, something which also causes blood clots.  After his stint as a wrestler was over he became a commentator for the WWF (World Wrestling Federation).

In 1987 he became embroiled in a legal action over royalty representation.  Ventura was awarded over $800,000 in damages for fraud, misappropriation of publicity rights and unjust enrichment in an action against Titan Sports, the company which owned the rights for the WWF. The case involved a misrepresentation in which Ventura waived his rights to royalties on the sales of video after being told he was told that only featured performers received royalties.

Acting Career

Ventura has appeared in many films including Predator, Running Man, No Holds Barred, Demolition Man, Batman and Robbin, and The Ringer.  He also appeared in film about his own life entitled Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura: The Man, the Myth, the Legend.  He also appeared in many series including The X-Files.

Jesse Ventura Photo By Cory Barnes Creative Commons ShareAlike LicencePolitical Career

Ventura, on advice from his former high school teacher decided to run for the office of Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota in 1990. His opponent had held the position of Mayor for 18 years.  In an unlikely result, Ventura won and was Mayor for four years from 1991 to 1995.

In 1998, Ventura’s ambitions broadened when he sougth the nomination to run as a candidate for Governor of Minnesota for the Reform Party of Minnesota.  He later joined the Independence Party of Minnesota after the Reform Party splintered from its parent group.  He was successful in gaining the nomination.  Ventura ran a highly effective and original campaign.

A decade before Obama used the Internet to win the 2008 US Presidential Election, Ventura pioneered the capability of the Internet to communicate a political vision.  His campaign was based on attending localised events and running television ads.

In November 1998, the seemingly impossible happened and Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota defeating Republican Mayor of St. Paul, Norm Coleman and Democratic  Minnesota Attorney General, Hubert Humphrey.  What was most unusual about Ventura’s campaign was its cost effectiveness.  Generally, the winning candidate of gubernatorial elections have to fork out multi-million amounts in order to be successful.  Ventura’s campaign only cost the relatively small amount of $300,000.

His was the first non-major party governor elected in Minnesota since 1938, and his win was marked with the slogan ‘My governor can beat up your governor.’

Political Controversy

Ventura was heavily criticised for closing down the governor’s mansion losing local jobs. He opted instead to stay at his home because of a refusal of the House of Representatives to grant increased funding for security for the governor’s mansion. During his term, journalists were dubbed ‘media jackals’ by Ventura.

Views On Religion

Ventura is a firm opponent of organised religion.  ‘Organised religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers.  It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people’s business.‘  He later qualified this by stating:

I don’t have any problem with the vast majority of religious folks.  I count myself among them, more or less.  But I believe because it makes sense to me, not because I think it can be proven.  There are lots of people out there who think they know the truth about God and religion, but does anybody really know for sure?

That’s why the founding fathers built freedom of religious belief into the structure of this nation, so that everybody could make up their minds for themselves. But I do have a problem with the people who think they have some right to impose their beliefs on others.’

Twin Tower Attacks

Ventura has expressed reservation and concern over the handling of the inquiry into the September 11 attacks.  He finds it hard to fathom why the results of the report were suppressed by the George Bush administration.  He is also sceptical about the cause of the collapse of the towers.

How could this building just implode into its own footprint five hours later?  That’s my first question.‘ He noted that no other building damaged by fire had collapsed in this manner before.


Torture And The Iraq War

Although initially in favour of the Iraq War, Ventura views on the subject have changed in the intervening years. He believes that living in Mexico for six months of the year has given him a better perspective on the United States. Completely dismayed at the use of torture, he draws attention to the fact that most proponents of tortuous practice have either not unlisted in the US army or deferred from active duty such as Dick Cheney.

In May 2009, during a broadcast of right-wing programme ‘Fox and Friends’, Brian Kilmeade stated that he would stop supporting waterboarding when ‘they’re dead‘ referring to the detainees. Ventura in response said ‘Really? Have you enlisted? Have you enlisted or are you just talking? Go walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.‘ Kilmeade walked off the set shortly afterwards.

Stance on Prostitution

Ventura is in favour of legalising prostitution. He claims that doing so will protect the health of both workers and clients noting that it will inevitably exist irrespective or whether or not it is legal or illegal.


Further Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura Quotes: Outspoken Words to hear what the man has to say about abortion, the death penalty, why he became Governor, and what he thinks about bearing arms.

Jesse Ventura is a fascinating and interesting character that continues to draw interests. He certainly cast aside the stereotypical mould of dour, dull policians.

His three books Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom up and Do I Stand Alone?: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals have become bestsellers are a highly recommended for people who wish to seek out another viewpoint. He has hinted at running for president in forthcoming 2012 US Presidential Elections.

Amazon.co.uk
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up and Do I Stand Alone?: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals here.

Amazon.ca
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up and Do I Stand Alone?: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals from here.

Amazon.de
For Germany: Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up and Do I Stand Alone?: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals.

Amazon.fr
For France: Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!I Ain’t Got Time To Bleed: Reworking the Body Politic from the Bottom Up and Do I Stand Alone?: Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals.


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