If Joe was alive today, he’d claim the title of The Most Interesting Man in the World from that nerd in those Dos Equis commercials. Joe is so goddamn awesome that he competed in 3 different human on human arenas at the highest level AND dominated.
- Notre Dame football and eventually for the Chicago Bears
- Pro wrestling
- World War Fucking II
Before Joe was making us all look bad, he was born 2 months premature on March 5th, 1908 in Castano Primo, Italy. He spent most of his childhood in Milan, living with his grandmother and aunt. Then at age 12 he moved to Three Oaks, Michigan, joining the rest of his family in the US. After high school he enrolled at Notre Dame and decided he was going to crush opponents brains as a Fullback on the football team in 1928.
Joe’s first start came against powerhouse and at the time, the previous year’s national champion Georgia Tech, where he fumbled a ball on a kickoff return. Coach Knute Rockne, who’s considered to be one of the greatest college football coaches of all-time, sent Joe to the showers for his audacity to fumble the football. The next week Rockne moved Joe to the offensive line. Joe said, “The heck with this” and quit the team all together.
Joe was persuaded by Rockne to rejoin the team as long as he got his old position back.
Not only did Joe get his position back, The All-American Fullback earned many nicknames to include Galloping Joe, The Wandering Wop, The People’s Choice, and finally earning the name Jumping Joe as he Mike Alstott’d his way up and over the line for a touchdown. Back in the day, football players used leather helmets, not the same hard-plastic helmets used today. So torpedoing oneself over the line into the hands of large burly men wasn’t commonplace while wearing practically a baseball glove for protection.
On October 4th, 1930, in Notre Dame’s new stadium, fans got to see a victory in large part to Joe’s 3 touchdowns earning him this rad story in the paper the next day: The first hero in the lore of Notre Dame’s $750,000 stadium
Standing just shy of 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds, Joe was a tank. He crushed linebackers physically, yet hurt their feelings as he stole their girlfriends while averaging a whopping 11 yards per carry and 40 yards per kick-off return.
Notre Dame won the National Championship in 1929 and 1930 each having undefeated seasons. Rockne said himself that those were the best teams he’s ever coached. Joe was a part of the only offensive backfield in the history of college football to be voted onto the All-American team (Carideo, Savoldi, Brill, Schwartz). So to put it into perspective, that’s like having Barry Sanders, Bo Jackson, Herschel Walker, and
OJ Simpson Earl Campbell all on the same team. If your head didn’t just explode after trying to grasp that then I don’t know what will.
Anyhow, Joe was later kicked off the team when he withdrew from the school because his divorce papers were leaked to the press detailing his secret marriage.
Curly Lambeau of the Green Bay Packers signed Joe to join the team. Chicago Bears fans heard the news and shamed their owner George Halas so bad that he manipulated the rules citing: The Grange Rule – no player can be signed to a team until after they completed their senior season. Because Joe didn’t finish his senior season, Halas through a hissy-fit to the leagues commissioner and Lambeau dropped Joe’s contract.
Halas signed Joe to the Bears and Lambeau and Packers got screwed. The only penalty resulting was a $1,000 fine per game played. This is a much bigger crime than that witch-hunt called Deflategate, yet much of the same because owners are crybabies even for a bunch of Bagillionaires. DA Bears pulled a fast one but to no surprise, Joe’s wild-man mentality got him discovered by wrestling promoter Billy Sandow and former world champion Ed “Strangler” Lewis. He signed a professional wrestling contract in May of 1931.
Making A Name For Himself…Again
Joe traveled the world including tournaments in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Europe, and across the US earning him World Champion status. He’s most notably known for inventing the dropkick. Gaining 30 pounds of muscle since his NFL days. Other wrestlers must have crapped their pants when they saw a pair of size 12 leather galoshes barreling through their nostrils.
In 1941 he bought an energy drink company called Dropkick The Drink For “All-Americans”. It quickly faced backlash from sugar companies limiting his progression in mass producing the drink.
In 1942 when the Nazis were emerging as the gnarliest group of dickheads the century has ever seen, the US government approached Joe to join the war effort because of his extensive knowledge about Italian geography and the interior to the compound of Mussolini’s mansion. His proficiency in multiple dialects in Italian were an added plus.
Not to mention having the dude who invented the dropkick has that tidbit being the third attribution attached to the reason for acquiring him. There is a reason why “The Greatest Generation” earned their nickname. Remember Captain Slade Cutter? No wonder why the Nazi’s got their asses kicked. They pissed off a bunch of hardasses who just wanted to play some football, drink some beer, chase women, and have a grand ole time.
Then that prick Hitler showed up and America had to go to the kitchen cupboard and pull out a a can of whoop-ass known as the OSS, Office of Strategic Services–the precursor unit to the CIA.
Joe was given the callsign “Sampson” and was assigned a position as a spy under the Special Operations branch of the OSS. During 1943-1945, he took part in missions across France, Italy and North Africa.
One of his first notable missions became known as the McGregor Project, where Joe conducted high-visibility operations where he assumed the identity of Giuseppe DeLeo, an Italian Army Captain who was captured in North Africa during Operation Torch.
The McGregor mission secretly arranged the surrender of the entire Italian Naval Fleet, all thanks to some impressive Houdini-esque magic tricks just prior to the D-Day invasion. Joe also helped bring down Mussolini in 1943.
After proving himself for being a seasoned spook, Joe was tasked with an operation to uncover secret Nazi documents and locate a torpedo scientist named Professor Carlo Calosi along with his wife out of Nazi-controlled Italy. The SS planned to assassinate him if he didn’t comply with the Germans plans in weapons development.
A three man squad including Joe, tip-toed their way across Rome, extracted the duo, and shipped them back to US Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island, where the professor helped develop countermeasures to be used against the Germans.
And if you thought that was awesome, Joe’s role as Giuseppe DeLeo infiltrated the Italian mafia and was accredited with taking down the largest black market operations in all of Italy. Joe often wore civilian clothes and spoke many other languages outside of English and Italian, including German, Spanish, and French.
After the War
Joe went back to his pro-wrestling career but an early onset of arthritis cut that career short. He stayed involved in the industry until 1950, where he then pursued a teaching degree. He helped mentor hard-to-reach kids and became a science teacher at Henderson County High School. Personally, I think they should of made him the athletic director, foreign language teacher, wrestling coach, history teacher, and the rest of the teacher/coaching spots in the school.
Jumping Joe Savoldi passed away in Henderson Kentucky in 1974 at the age of 65.
Today July 7th, 2017, THE Human Hall OF Fame Inducts – “Jumping Joe Savoldi”, one of the Most Interesting Humans to EVER Live.
Human Hall OF Fame Inductees
- Christopher Cassidy – Navy SEAL Spaceman
- Ruth Graves Wakefield – Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Slade Cutter – Vices: Tobacco, Swearing, Flute
- Louis-Sebastien Lenormand – Innovator of the Parachute
- Clint Eastwood – Film Icon
- Gail Halvorsen – The Berlin Candy Bomber
- The Innovators of Food Initially Consumed by Peasants – Pizza
- Bruce Mozert – Underwater Bartender/Photographer
UPDATE: Jumping Joe’s Grandson JG Savoldi has added some information regarding the DROPKICK “Drink for All Americans”:
Nice honor for my grandfather and a very accurate write-up for the most part. DROPKICK “The Drink for All Americans” was the energy drink that my grandfather invented (he didn’t buy it from another person). He thought that Coke was too sweet and he wanted to invent a low sugar drink with an energy-boosting component. (like Red Bull) The reason DROPKICK went bankrupt was that he had just started the company and he was only running pre-production batches of the drink so that he could give it away as samples and start booking orders. Notre Dame had signed up to sell the drink at their stadium and everything was going great, but then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 and the government instituted sugar rationing (among many other types of rationing) and the amount of sugar that was allocated to him/his company, was not adequate to produce the drink orders that had been placed. Even though the amount of sugar in the drink was small, he still couldn’t produce the drink without sugar and that was what caused him to lose his fortune. Back in 1941, there was no “outsourcing” and that meant that he had invested a large sum of money into his energy drink plant and bought his own delivery trucks etc. but was then unable to produce the drink. He was wiped-out financially and had to return to the wrestling circuit (over 280 matches that year!) A couple years later, the Office of Strategic Services contacted him and you have the rest of the story correct. We’re currently working on a book and movie about Jumping Joe’s life and it’s good to see that the younger generation likes his story!