Nik Wallenda is a high-wire act who holds nine world records. Mr. T is an actor and retired professional wrestler. One is 37. The other is 63.
Kind of an odd pairing for a partnership, no?
“Yes, on paper,” Mr. T said in studio on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “On paper, it’s odd, yes.”
In reality, Wallenda and Mr. T have joined forces to help Fairfield Inn and Suites Celebrate National Amazing Month, which is fitting because both men are fairly amazing. Wallenda is the first person to ever walk across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. Mr. T was Clubber Lang.
“As a fan, I watched Rocky I and Rocky II, and I was rooting for Rocky. I didn’t even root for the brother!” Mr. T said, laughing. “I said, ‘Come on, Rocky!’ Now he calls me to fight him? Oh, man, I remember the audition. I had to do 10 pages and I got that right. I did the improvisation and got that. Then he wanted me to box him. He said, I want you to hit me as hard as you can.’ I’m saying to myself, ‘This guy don’t know I’ve knocked guys out at the bar.’ It was a rough position. Should I hit the guy real hard? Then I might not get the job.”
In the end, Mr. T knew what he had to do.
“I hit him hard,” he said. “I hit him hard.”
The rest is history.
Wallenda, meanwhile, performs his high-wire acts without a net. If that sounds dangerous, well, it is. Wallenda’s grandfather, in fact, died during a high-wire act in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1978.
If Wallenda feels he is in danger of falling, he is trained to hang on to the wire while a rescue crew tends to him. Wallenda had a rescue crew on hand when he walked across the Grand Canyon, but he knew he didn’t need them.
“I told them to bring a shovel and a bucket because that’s all they were going to need,” Wallenda said. “Because if I landed down there, clearly I wouldn’t be living.”
Wallenda’s grandfather, Karl, was 73 when he died.
“He did everything right, (but) didn’t have physical ability to hold on anymore,” Wallenda said. “What have we learned from that? There’s a time that we have to stop doing what we love.”
Wallenda was asked how he suspends fear on the wire.
“It’s all about training and preparing properly,” he said. “For instance, when I walked across the Grand Canyon, I trained with winds of 120 miles per hour knowing through studies that they wouldn’t exceed 60 miles per hour. It’s all about training and preparing and over-preparing for that worst case. That’s how I can go up there confidently – not arrogantly, but confidently – (and say), ‘Hey, I know I can make it from A to B.’”
Mr. T, who is afraid to fly, is in awe of Wallenda.
“I’m pretty tough on the ground,” Mr. T said. “In the air, I can’t do nothing. I live in Chicago. When he did the thing in Chicago, I couldn’t watch. I couldn’t watch. I tuned in later and said, ‘Is it over? Is it over?’ And meeting him, I said, ‘Man, I’m speechless.’ I was speechless when I met and worked with Muhammad Ali, and I’m speechless being with Nik.”
Wallenda is walking a wire at Flatiron Plaza in New York City on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET. It will be broadcasted live on Fairfield’s Facebook page.