Fats #3

Another part of an interview with the renowned pool playing master, Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanerone. In this section of the interview, Fats discusses his personal philosophies on pool and on life, sharing stories about his own philanthropic exploits as well as his dissension regarding present ways of thinking.

00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars.

01:35Copy video clip URL Minnesota Fats, the legendary pool player, begins talking about a party that was once thrown for him in New York, where 4 televsion networks were in attendance among a slew of celbrities and people of importance.

02:09Copy video clip URL Fats attributes his past and present endurance to his ability to “stay in shape,” which, he believes, is not necessarily determined by how often a person exercises. He discredits forms of exercise like running and jogging by calling them “the biggest joke on Earth.” Fats then pulls out a newspaper and points out an article outlining  the dangers of excessive running. Fats says that he believes that only one group of athletes should be concerned with running and jogging: boxers. Most people, he says, should not put as much emphasis on exercise as they do. “They’d be better off watching television.”

04:00Copy video clip URL “I’ve known every fighter that’s ever breathed.” Fats talks about the great number of famous boxers he’s met during his days playing cards. On legendary boxer Jake LaMotta, Fats refers to him as a “fabulous creature”, saying that LaMotta is a fan of Fats’s as well. Fats goes on to tell an anecdote about a time LaMotta said to him, “You scare everybody to death . . . I’m the only one that knows.”

05:48Copy video clip URL Fats discusses the effect that his confidence and poise has on others. He believes that others are intimidated, not only by his confidence around the pool table, but by his incredible talents as well. Exploring the topic of his pool playing ability further, Fats says that he is the greatest living pool player, though he cites his rival, Willie Mosconi, as being a close second. Fats credits his pool playing ability to his intelligence, saying that he is “One-hundred times smarter” than any other player.

06:40Copy video clip URL On his own pool playing style, Fats stresses a “renaissance man” state of mind. He states that he believes that a vast range of expertise and skill is necessary to be successful in any game, even if a person excels at one game or another. “If you was the greatest Gin player in the world, what are you going to do where they don’t play Gin?” His own comprehensive knowledge of pool and card games from around the world, Fats says, he learned in saloons from immigrants before he ever even left the United States.

08:26Copy video clip URL Fats speaks about his time living in Southern Illinois in a small mining community called Dowell, whose population was about 1,000. After the closing of the Kathleen Coal Mine, the people of Dowell were more or less completely destitute, which, Fats says, was the reason he decided to help the community. Fats explains that he had gotten married in Dowell, and was living in Du Quoin County when he began to give money and buy food for the people  that needed it. Fats says that he feels that all of the work he did to help others was never appreciated. “I fed every living creature . . .  and they ain’t never done nothing for me. After I done all of that, they treated me like I was a rag.”

10:00Copy video clip URL When asked about his motivation for helping those in need during his years in Southern Illinois, Fats says that he had been helping people all of his life, giving money to the less fortunate and participating in charity events pro bono.

10:24Copy video clip URL Fats gives a few examples of times when he’s helped strangers get back on their feet. He tells about a time when he helped out a hitchhiking family by checking them into a hotel and giving them money to buy food. He also talks about a time when a woman with a baby was attempting to hitchhike to Tucson, Arizona, and Fats put her up in a hotel, gave her money, and instructed the hotel manager to find her a ride to Tucson. Fats says that these are just specific examples of people he’s helped, and that he’s done good deeds like these many times over.

12:33Copy video clip URL In regards to his upbringing being the factor to inform his generosity, Fats claims that the spirit of philanthropy has been present in him since he was a toddler, giving change to the homeless at the age of 2, and taking care of sick animals in the neighborhood.

13:42Copy video clip URL “I’m the greatest humanitarian the world has ever known, and you can put that down.” Fats asserts that everybody in every place he’s visited is aware of his philanthropy, which leads him into a story about a time when he visited Mobile, Alabama during a hurricane and saved every animal in the town by taking them and putting them in his hotel room.

14:59Copy video clip URL Fats refutes the claim that he was the type of pool player to take every dollar of his opponent’s money in a match, chalking that rumor up to exaggeration. Fats says that after winning a pool game, he would take his winnings, but leave his opponent enough money to get by. Fats argues that it would be impossible for a person to be the kind of humanitarian he is, while still being the type of person to take all of his opponents’ money after winning a game of pool. “You can’t be both.”

16:13Copy video clip URL Though he has helped many people throughout the country, Fats denies that his compassion is due to a feeling in his heart, but rather, to his own mental capacity. He says that he does not believe, as most people do, that feelings come from the “heart,” and attributes this belief to society’s lack of knowledge. “Everybody’s an imbecile on this Earth. Tell them I said so.”

16:58Copy video clip URL Fats remarks that he is simply the type of person destined to be generous and altruistic; he claims that he was born to be that way, and never swayed by feelings or emotions. “You happen to be one of them kinds of people. There’s nobody ever done what I did, nobody. I’ve done things beyond compare.” This statement leads into an anecdote where Fats says that while staying in an upscale hotel in Switzerland after World War I, he fed an entire flock of hungry children with food that he instructed the hotel chef to make.

18:01Copy video clip URL Fats explains that even after all of the charity he showed to Southern Illinois, he does not believe he was treated fairly when he left. He alleges that an extremely large amount of his own money was taken from him, particularly during his divorce from his wife.

19:06Copy video clip URL Fats tells a story about a time when a 9 year-old child came up to his doorstep with a note, asking for his help to allow her and her mother to stay in the building and off the streets, which led him to write the woman a $400 check.

19:46Copy video clip URL Fats talks about the multiple bank accounts that he shared with his wife.

20:07Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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