Newcomer Calvin Tankman has quickly risen to the top of the food chain in Major League Wrestling. After cutting his teeth on the independent scene, the 6-foot-2-inch super-heavyweight has his sights set on the biggest prize of his professional wrestling career, the MLW World Heavyweight Championship. The New Castle, IN native is set to challenge the reigning champion, Jacob Fatu, at the promotion’s Never Say Never show, taking place on March 31st.
The number one contender recently took the time to have a conversation with me about his rise, the early days of his career, his plans for Never Say Never and a host of other topics. Continue reading ahead and see what the expert on Heavyweight Hustle had to say.
On Never Say Never and Winning the Championship
Jon: Obviously, the big topic right now is your title match against MLW Heavyweight Champion Jacob Fatu, set to take place on March 31st at Never Say Never. What’s going through your mind right now as you prepare for that opportunity?
Calvin: Don’t blow it. Be ready for any and everything. I think two years of being undefeated, that gets to you. After a while, you start to think there’s nobody that can topple you. With coming in as a relative unknown to MLW, and coming on the way that I have, I think he got a taste of it, but he doesn’t really quite understand what’s coming to him. I’m looking to be focused and come in firing, hit him in the chin, put him on his back and see how he reacts.
J: That actually leads me into my next question. You’ve been in Major League Wrestling for less than a year at this point and have quickly risen to the top. What would it mean for you to beat Jacob Fatu and become the new Heavyweight Champion so early on in your tenure with the company?
C: Validation. Because I’ve had to take time away from a lot of people to do what I’ve done. I became a dad at 19-years-old. I have a six-year-old, she’s about to be seven. Every time I’m on the road, every time I’m training, that’s time away from her. So really, that would just mean a lot. All of those hours would mean something. That’s something I can tangibly bring home. Or turn on TV and be like, “Look, this is what Daddy did. This is why Daddy has been away for so long.” So, it really would mean a lot just for her to be able to see me succeed on such a big stage.
On Changing the Perception of Super Heavyweights
J: I love that answer, man. As a father of two boys, I know that nothing drives you more than your children. What makes you different from other wrestlers? What is it that makes Calvin Tankman the best of the best and the future of professional wrestling?
C: Because I’m adaptable. In every situation that you put me in, not only am I going to swim, but I’ll thrive. Throw me in the deep end if you want to. I think that’s one thing that I’ve shown. Where you would typically have your strength, against a guy my size, you don’t have that. And I’m well aware of that. I’m going to make you fight me and it’s going to be a fight.
I think that’s really what I bring, I’m really a hybrid. I’m an athlete at this size. There’s very few that are athletes, not few that are athletes at this size, but very few that are willing to put it all on the line to reach that goal. Especially at this size. A lot of them have been taught “there’s no need for that”. But if there’s a championship involved, that will put you over the edge because that’s not what they’re expecting; sometimes you gotta take that chance. I think I am bringing a new style to the super-heavyweight size and what everyone thinks of a super-heavyweight. I’ve actually said this multiple times, but I want to take what guys like Bam Bam, and guys like Vader, even guys before them. Like Kamala doing the leapfrog at 6’8” and near 400-pounds. Take what those guys have done and I want to try to take that to the next level. When my career is done, I want to have an influence on what people think a guy my size can do.
J: It’s funny that you went that deep into it, because that was actually my next question. I was going to ask about how you’ve said before that you want to change the game for super-heavyweights in the same way as those guys that you mentioned did before you. I was going to ask you to expand on that so I’m glad that you did. I can tell that it’s important because in a sport where you’re considered to be “too big” or “too small, you kind of get stuck in the middle somewhere. But you’re proving that that doesn’t have to necessarily be the case.
C: Yeah, definitely. You see that in MMA all of the time. What a heavyweight was way back in the day is different from what a heavyweight is now. You see that in other sports. You see that in basketball. Giannis Antetokounmpo is seven-feet tall, runs the floor like a gazelle and he brings the ball up court. In what era of basketball would you ever see that? But he’s effective and they realize “Hey, yeah, it would make sense for him to be next to the basket. But, he can do all of these things. So why would we stop him?” So I kind of have the same mindset.
On His Early Days and What The Future Brings
J: March 17, 2016. Does that date sound familiar? Exactly five years ago today, you made your in-ring debut in your home state of Indiana. That’s what the internet told me, anyway.
C: That is slightly off. BUT, I feel like maybe that’s better off. Some of my earlier matches were really bad. [Laughs] I don’t remember my actual date. I wanna say the 21st, but it was November of 2015. So we’re coming on the sixth year.
J: Wow, ok. Looking back now, if you were able to give yourself from five or six years ago one piece of advice, what would it be?
C: Trust the process. Believe in yourself. That was a big thing. I would pick things out and I would understand things, but I wouldn’t necessarily, not necessarily wouldn’t push the issue, but just be confident in myself and my abilities more. Speak up. When you’re first starting, especially with me, experiment and really find who you are and be confident in that. Once I did, that’s when doors started opening: when I was really finding confidence in being myself and I wasn’t trying to be anybody else. This is me. This is the type of professional wrestling that I love. This is something that I love to do. So letting that show in my works is something that really helped.
J: Looking in the other direction now, where do you see yourself five years from today? What will we be saying about Calvin Tankman in 2026?
C: Hopefully, at least that I’m well on my way to doing the things that I’ve said since the beginning. I want to be known as one of the best in the world. I throw around a lot and a lot of guys say that. I don’t think necessarily that I am, but I want to face the best to make myself the best. I know there’s room for improvement. So over these next five-to-ten years, let me be in the ring with the best. Let me learn from any mistakes that I make and eventually have the opportunity to prove that I belong as one of them.
On Who He Wants to Face and What He Would Change About the Industry
J: Is there anybody in particular that you would like to get in the ring with that you haven’t yet?
C: Now that we’re getting Fatu, that was a big one when I signed a contract. Within the company, obviously Hammerstone. He’s one of the cornerstones of the company and has really put in the work and has been a pillar really since he came in. If you want to claim yourself as one of the best in the company, you have to go through him as well.
Outside of the company, Black Taurus is one that I would love to match up with. I feel like, much like Fatu, our strength and size and also combination of size would be a fun matchup. Man. Jeff Cobb, definitely. That would be another one. And possibly another shot at Chris Dickinson.
J: If you could change just one thing about professional wrestling, what it would be and why?
C: That’s a really good question. I have to think about that one.
J: Caught you off guard. I like that.
C: All of the extra BS. Like, I wish that it could be as simple as coming together and wrestling and everybody putting on their best. None of the extra…no egos, no drama, no bullshit. I wish that we could just get back to enjoying wrestling. That’s not to say that I think people should shut up about people being crappy. I just wish that those things weren’t happening.
J: Well, Calvin. That’s actually all that I have for you tonight. Is there anything that you would like to add for the fans or the MLW locker room?
C: Listen. Win, lose or draw, just know that I’m going to keep swinging. My intensity isn’t going to stop. I’m not going to take breaks until I get what I want. I have to put food on the table. If you’ve gold around your waist, you get an extra bump on your paycheck. I want all that and more.
J: Once again, I want to thank you for your time tonight and I would like to wish you the best of luck in your big title match at MLW’s Never Say Never on March 31. I hope to catch up with you soon.
C: Alright, man. Thanks for having me.
I would like to thank Calvin Tankman again for taking the time to speak to me. We here at Sports Obsessive wish him the best of luck in his upcoming championship match and will certainly be keeping an eye on him and his career as it continues to soar.