SI Vault
 
'I DON'T MAKE A GOOD PET'
Douglas S. Looney
March 31, 1980
So says Don Bragg, ex-Olympic champ, Tarzan manqué and a man who has great rapport with himself
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 31, 1980

'i Don't Make A Good Pet'

So says Don Bragg, ex-Olympic champ, Tarzan manqué and a man who has great rapport with himself

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

The scene switches from the Pine Barrens to Studio 54 in Manhattan. Bragg is out on the sidewalk hollering, "Hey, I'm Don Bragg Olympic Champion. Tarzan. Remember me?" He is ignored. Finally, Bragg can't take it anymore. "Let's bust in," he says. "No faggot s.o.b. in a cape is gonna stop me from going into a disco." He is persuaded to go elsewhere—not easily.

For everything that goes wrong, Bragg has a rationalization. Early on, he bought a record store, but grocery stores started selling records and ruined the business. He bought a tow truck, established an Olympic Credit Bureau and started repossessing cars, but he repossessed a car belonging to an organized-crime figure, and life became so dangerous—he was reportedly shot at—that he sold the business. He had a radio talk show, but it wasn't nasty enough. "Can you believe it?" says Bragg. "Me not nasty enough?"

And he built a camp—Kamp Olympik (Bragg's inspiration for the unique spelling came from the fact that he had been reading about the Celts—originally spelled Kelts) in New Gretna, N.J., close to where he now lives. He says he bought the property for $40,000, sold it nine years later for $250,000 and made some money from it in the intervening years. But a kid almost drowned, and Bragg decided it wasn't worth it. He was a great pole vaulter, nearly getting to the magic 16-foot mark with a metal pole, but then they made the fiber-glass pole, and now his old records seem pitiful by comparison.

He would have been Tarzan, but every time a casting call went out, fate would eliminate him. Once he cut his foot on a broken bottle when he alit from a tree; another time he suffered a ruptured disc; another time there were legal problems; another time he was shot at when he dropped off another man's girl friend at her home.

He would have been a color man for network television at the '68 Olympics, but he got to messing with the Tarzan thing too much and missed out. He was a fine arm wrestler, but they went and developed a new" style that involves the shoulder and the back, and Bragg could not adjust.

Not long ago, he and Ciko bought a bar in Margate, N.J., the Nickelodeon.

Terry says, "It's lovely."

Don: "Naw, it's a dive."

Terry: "It's a pleasant summertime hangout for kids."

Don: "Dive."

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8