Glen Jacobs

Glen Jacobs is now the mayor of Knox County, Tenn.

WWE inducts Glen ‘Kane’ Jacobs into hall of fame

BOWLING GREEN—Even before Glen Jacobs attended Bowling Green High School he had a vision and a desire to become a pro-athlete. Last night, the World Wrestling Entertainment superstar, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Jacobs, who would eventually become the wildly popular professional wrestler, Kane, started out traveling the world with his military family. But he was living on a farm just outside of Frankford when he was attending BGHS in the early 1980s. The desire to be a professional athlete sparked when he was very young.

“When I was a little biddy, I wanted to play for the St. Louis Cardinals,” he said. “I was not a great baseball player,” he admitted, so his athletic focus turned elsewhere.

“I graduated in 1985, (from BGHS) and played basketball while I was there,” Jacobs said during a phone interview last week.

“I started playing basketball because of my height,” he said. His online stats show Jacobs at 7 feet tall. He was a pretty good player, earning a scholarship to what is now Truman State University, where he would also earn a degree in English literature. “It was North East Missouri University when I was there,” he added.

During his high school years, Jacobs said he didn’t do a lot of weight lifting, but when he got to college, he started lifting big time.

“I put on a lot of muscle and a lot of size,” he said. As his basketball eligibility came to an end, Jacobs said the football coach told him that he might have a future in football.

There was a chance, he noted, that he might be able to play basketball professionally overseas, but without any pro prospects he decided he would try football. During one of his games, however, Jacobs blew out his knee.

“I did have a lot of interest from some NFL teams,” he said. “But that dissipated when I hurt my knee.” He did, however, go to the Chicago Bears’ training camp, but only for a day.  He couldn’t pass the physical.

“I came back home pretty crushed,” he said, “because that had been my dream since I was a kid.”

But one night, he was hanging out with a friend in Louisiana, watching professional wrestling on TV.

“Mark was a big WWE fan, and he said, ‘Hey, you know, we should try that. It looks like fun,’” Jacobs said. “Something just clicked, and I thought I might be good at that.”

He was able to find some local people to work with and things took off from there.

He started wrestling in 1992 on the independent circuit with Smoky Mountain Wrestling out of Knoxville, Tenn. By 1995, he had signed with the World Wrestling Federation, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment. His wrestling career skyrocketed when he took on his wrestling persona, Kane. At a height of 7 foot, and tipping the scales at more than 320 pounds, Jacobs, as Kane, was a force to be reckoned with. As an individual and as part of a tag team, Jacobs racked up some impressive wins.

But he turned 50 in 2017, and any professional athlete will tell you at some point you know when it’s time to move on.

When asked why he decided to get into politics, Jacobs joked, “Most likely it was a lack of sanity.” But in truth, he knows he’s had a remarkable life.

“I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of things and that’s what America is all about,” he said. “I think about the American dream, and that is the opportunity to create a life we want to live.”

And like lots of people, he added, he was concerned about the future of this country.

“I got tired of complaining about it, and decided to get in the game and do what I could to ensure that the free-enterprise system and the opportunities it offers continues,” he said. 

Two years ago, he ran for mayor of Knox County, Tenn., and won. Jacobs said that when he was working with Smoky Mountain Wresting he fell in love with the area. It’s also the place where he met Crystal Goins, the woman who would eventually become his wife.

“We got married within a few months of me living here,” he said. Knox County, he said, reminds him of being back home in Missouri. The people are the same and have a lot of the same values, he noted. 

The one thing he doesn’t miss about Missouri is the winters.

“The climate here is much the same, but without the horrible winters,” he said.

He’s been out of the wrestling limelight for a few years, and admits that he doesn’t miss it that much.

“I think a lot of it is because I’m so busy in the mayor’s office,” he said. “Every now and then I’ll get a pang of nostalgia.”

But reflecting on his time in the WWE, Jacobs said the wrestlers performed sometimes 250 times a year. Even for dedicated athletes who work hard at their craft, that’s a grueling schedule.

“It was a really tight schedule,” he said. “We were always moving and always going. We never really had time to stop.” In other sports, he noted, athletes get an off-season.

“If you win a championship, you have at least a few months to bask in that,” he said. With wrestling it was always just get to the next town and put a show on. “Now that I look back on it, I wish that I could have appreciated it more than I did.” Back then, he was just caught in the moment, and going, going, going.

The announcement about being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame gave Jacobs some time to be more introspective about his wrestling career.

“Man, what a ride its been,” he said. Plus, he added, he built a lot of great relationships with the other wrestlers, sometimes seeing them more than his own family when he was competing full time.

“One of the great things that has happened during my career,” he said, “is seeing the women’s division take prominence in the WWE. It’s so exciting to see female wrestling superstars, what they’re capable of and the affect they’re having.”

If you’re a fan of pro-wrestling, you know that even when the superstar wrestlers get older, they’re only considered semiretired. Wrestlers who have gone on to other careers, such as Jacobs, have occasionally made an appearance during a WWE special. And Jacobs is no different. Earlier this year, he appeared during the WWE’s Royal Rumble.

“The match was in late January,” he said, “and they called me 6 weeks before. I said yeah that sounds like fun it should be great. I fly down on a Saturday, do the show on Sunday and come back early Monday morning. But the closer it got to do the actual show the more I’m like, ‘What have I got myself into?’”

“Walking down the ramp for the first time in a year, I’m thinking, ‘This is a really bad idea,’” he added. “It was still pretty neat to get back in the ring,” he said. And because of COVID, everything has changed, especially the ring experience.

“I think the WWE has done a fantastic job considering the circumstance that they faced,” he said. “I was only in the ring for like 2 minutes.” It was great, he added, hearing from his fans on social media how much they enjoyed seeing him come back.

What defined his character as Kane, he noted was the mask. It wasn’t really difficult to wrestle with the mask on, he said. 

“It didn’t hinder by breathing or my vision,” he said. But the one thing that did bother him was how much he perspired under the mask. He would wear black makeup around his eyes to blend in with the mask. Because of that, the mask would channel all that makeup right into his eyes.

“That was the worst of it, because my eyes would always sting,” he said.

Jacobs recently announced that he’s running for re-election. Because of term limits, this is the last time he will be eligible to run as mayor for Knox County. From there, he will revaluate his political options.

“I’ve had the two greatest jobs in the world,” he said, “being a WWE superstar and being the mayor of my hometown here.” As awesome as that has been, he thought he might like to chill out for a little while. “But I don’t know if I’m necessarily built that way.”

Being in public office, he noted, is about what service you can provide the community.

“So, after this (being mayor) it’s not just what I would be good at, but what would provide value to the people I’m serving,” he said.

He looks back on his time in Bowling Green with fondness, and realizes that his core values come from growing up in this community.

One of his former teachers, Sue Haley, who now runs The Garden Gate antique shop on the Square, said she remembered Jacobs when he attended BGHS.

“He was a good student,” she said, “but a little awkward because of his size.”

Jacobs laughed when he heard about Haley’s comment. “Yes. I was very awkward,” he said.

“I had some great teachers and coaches, too,” he added. “Growing up in a small town, such as Bowling Green, I think that just really provides folks like me with the basis to be able to go and do some things in life. You always stay grounded.” It was here where he learned how hard his mom and dad worked.

“There are just so many people (in a small town) who are invested in your future,” he said. “I always felt when I was in school that the teachers, the administrators and the coaches really did care about the kids they were working with. I can’t say enough about how that helped form me,” adding that he always felt as though they always had his back. 

Jacobs’ Mom and Dad moved just a little farther south, and now live in the Moscow Mills area. Jacobs said he does still have family in the Bowling Green area and in some of the surrounding towns.

“The last time I was up that way was a couple of years before COVID started,” he said. “The area has changed enormously, since I’ve been gone.”

Recommended for you