WWE professional wrestlers come in a variety of flavors. There are the superstars, the narcissists, the villains, and the wacky characters. Every character is loved or hated in their own right, but it is rare to find a WWE superstar that’s as universally loved as Mick Foley.
Beginning his career as an enhancement wrestler, Foley developed his personas into some of the most memorable characters in professional wrestling history. He is a four-time world champion, and eleven-time world tag team champion. He boasts a down-to-earth, child in a man’s body persona, and has been dubbed “The Hardcore Legend” by Terry Funk.
But, as it turns out, Foley’s accolades extend far beyond the realm of wrestling. What follows are 10 of the most fascinating things you probably didn’t know about WWE’s Mick Foley.
10. He Has a Long List of Entertaining WWE Rivalries
Foley has his share of WWE rivalries. Perhaps the most intense of them all is the storyline feud with Ric Flair, which actually stemmed from genuine dislike. Flair once dubbed Foley a “glorified stuntman,” and insinuated his success was only due to knowing the right people. The results were some rather intense and bloody wrestling matches involving barbed wire bats. Throughout his career, Foley has gathered up feuds like trading cards, battling the likes of Triple H, Randy Orton and even The Undertaker in the process.
9. He is a Cameo Master
Foley is no stranger to the screen, whether it’s on the TV or in movies. The man has made a variety of cameos, and even snagged a few “lead roles” (if you’d venture to call them that). For instance, he once signed his family up for the TV show Wife Swap in which each drastically different family swaps spouses for an entire week. To no surprise, turns out Foley is the cool, laid back dad.
Foley has also made appearances on the hit comedy 30-Rock and the show Boy Meets World. He is also a recurring guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, who is a big admirer of Foley. In 2010, Stewart awarded Foley the “Medal of Sanity” in recognition of just generally being a great human being.
8. He Hates Bullying
Teased and somewhat shy as a child, Foley has grown to be a strong advocate on putting an end to bullying. Foley’s appearance on The Daily Show perhaps best sums up his stance. Stewart once brought him on the show solely in order to put an end to those who were teasing a 10-year-old for sticking up for gay-rights.
In the past, he has also supported MarblePlayTV in their “We’re Kickin’ It” event in an effort to stamp out bullying. Foley has gone on to publish four children’s books with anti-bullying themes spanning from 2000 to 2012.
7. He is Christmas Obsessed
There are those who stand by the tried and true rule of no Christmas music until at least after Thanksgiving, and there are those who have no qualms blaring Christmas tunes in the middle July on the beach; it’s safe to assume which end of the spectrum Mick Foley falls on. Hint: he’s no Scrooge.
Mick Foley absolutely loves Christmas. In fact, he’s gone so far as to become a certified Santa Clause. Even further, he helped launch a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary movie about mall Santas. The movie “I AmSanta” successfully debuted in 2014. It explores what life is like for those who hold down the gig as jolly old Saint Nick throughout an entire year, something we surely wouldn’t put it past Foley to try in the future.
6. Foley Has a Fitting Finishing Move
Every WWE wrestler has to have a finishing move. It’s one of the most important aspects to their professional wrestling persona. Throughout the years, wrestlers have come up with some pretty unique finishers, all in the name of achieving some brand recognition. Foley’s WWE character Mankind has perhaps topped them all.
Originally, Mankind used a vanilla version of the mandible claw as a finisher, but when he tweaked the move a bit it soared toward new heights in popularity. Sock-O is an arm-length gym sock with a face drawn on it, and it instills fear in all who behold it. When finishing his opponent, Mankind will stuff the sock into the gaping mouth of the wrestler and slam them into the turf, achieving raucous applause in the process. For a laid-back character like Foley, and Mankind by extension, we can think of no better-suited finishing move than the Sock-O mandible claw.
5. He is a Glutton for Punishment
Foley’s WWE personas connected with his audience because they were somewhat relatable. There’s no crazy tight spandex, or beefed up muscles. He’s just a guy wearing plaid shirts having fun in the ring. And that’s what’s fun to watch.
Foley participated in some of the most extreme wrestling the WWE has seen. He wrestled with a very physical style, often throwing himself all over the place for effect. It was not uncommon for him to wrestle in rings of barbed wire, or near something set ablaze. Foley famously paid the price for such excitement during one match in Munich, Germany. Wrestling as Cactus Jack, Foley lost the majority of his ear while in the middle of a hangman–a move where the wrestler’s head is trapped between the ropes (skip to 7:25 to see it happen).
4. His Characters Have Interesting Backstories
The relatable Mankind was originally portrayed with a much darker undertone, and considering his inspiration, it is clear to see why. Foley has stated the idea for Mankind stemmed from a combination of reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and listening to the music of Tori Amos. This early version of Mankind was a psychotic schizophrenic who would shriek throughout his matches. It wasn’t until later that Foley decided to take a more comical approach, eventually leading to the likes of Sock-O
One of Foley’s other personas, Dude Love, was actually taken from a character he frequently played in home videos. The hippie character suddenly appeared in a WWF Tag Team championship match, and helped ensure Stone Cold Steve Austin achieved victory.
3. Foley is an Extremely Successful Author
The literary world was taken by surprise when, in October 1999, Foley’s self-written memoir Have a Nice Day took the number one spot on The New York Times best-seller list. His official website states that he wrote the book longhand in a total of 50 days, an astonishing feat. The book held the number one position for an impressive twenty-six weeks.
Foley’s second book, Foley is Good was also a best-seller. In total he has published four memoirs and two novels. A big kid at heart, it probably surprises no one that Foley has also gone on to publish several children’s books. These books typically carry an anti-bullying theme, and have been received well.
2. He’s a Member of National Leadership Council for Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN)
Foley is an incredible contributor to the well-being of society. His work at RAINN is just one of many notable examples. Foley is constantly at work raising money for the organization, and has even donated various wrestling affiliated memorabilia for auction in order to raise funds. Mr. Sock-O was one of the items donated.
To top it off, Foley even sent half of his advance from his memoir Countdown to Lockdown towards the organization, an impressive amount considering his past literary successes. In a vintage Foley move, he has even offered to mow the lawns of anyone who personally donates a total of $5,000 to RAINN, an act he carries out dressed in typical plaid.
1. Foley’s Activism Is Felt Around the World
A majority of Foley’s activism is involved with children, and securing their education. Foley has participated in several Make-A-Wish Foundation events, visiting children in hospitals. Along with that, Foley has made numerous appearances at schools throughout the United States to speak on the importance of educating and reading.
Foley has also been involved with ChildFund International, where he has significantly contributed towards the establishment of education buildings in the Philippines, Mexico and Sierra Leone. A child at heart, as well as a patriot, Foley has also been known to visit U.S. military bases and hospitals, attending to wounded soldiers. In 2005, a Washington Times article even labeled him as “a legend among hurt troops.”