Wrestling with Wrestling

Tatanka_display_image Maxwell’s in Hoboken was one of our favorite places to see rock shows. One night at the corner of Washington and Whatever an epic fight broke out in the middle of the intersection. Men and women went at it for a few minutes before it was over. To this day I could give you a play by play of the fight while I couldn’t tell you the band played that night.

I am not personally violent—having participated in two fights in my life (aside from fighting with my brother that never ended well for me). In the third grade Fat Kaplan got me into a tussle after auditorium by annoying someone in the row in front of us and blaming me. The whole school massed out of the room only for me to get jumped from behind, knocked to the ground, and have my head pummeled from behind as I lay on my belly. That was followed by my one and only trip to the Principal’s office in grade school. The other fight involved me defending a friend who got punched in the face in a bagel store late one night. I got stuffed into an ice cream freezer for my efforts.

But while I have little need to engage, I have loved viewing fights since I was a little boy. I was eight years old for the first Ali/Frazier fight which I remember all of my friends being thrilled about. Over the next few years and the rematches I read a number of books on the sweet science, including a couple on Ali.  I was also deeply invested in the Bruno Sammartino/ Pedro Morales era of professional wrestling learning to play poker using wrestling magazines as chips in Larry Secunda’s basement. I even went to the Sunnyside Gardens to watch Chief Jay Strongbow fight the Black Claw for one of my birthday parties.

Not everyone loves to see people beat upon each other. About ten years ago my brother and I were on Second Avenue in the east village when a fight broke out. We moved instinctually in opposite directions-he towards safety and me to watch the battle. And maybe it is just about watching because my wife points out that I like nothing more than watching two people making out on the street while many others would avert their eyes.

I am not judging myself I am just putting it out on the table—this is who I am. These days I don’t watch boxing and have little interest in wrestling. I am a peace loving pacifist who thinks the death penalty is barbaric but when I see violence in action I love it. Which leads me to the dilemma of today’s post—my son turns five on Friday and I think he might be ready for some wrestling. Someone sent me a crazy clip from a mixed martial arts (MMA) match where two guys are knocked out simultaneously. I told my wife she needed to see it but she demurred. I insisted. She refused. I begged. She relented.

“Wow that was wild.”

Then I sprang the trap putting on a YouTube video of a wrestling match with Ray Mysterio, a high flying acrobatic Mexican wrestler who wears a mask. It wasn’t long before she was oohing and aahing at the crazy moves that Mysterio pulls off.

“So what do you think? Is he ready for wrestling?”

“Not yet.”

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