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GET WITH THE PROGRAM

A snippet about pro wrestling in the 1960's

Taken from the Jardonn Smith story A True Ring, in his book, Suspicious Diagnosis

 

Sorry, got ahead of myself, there. That's a Chicago part, and obviously, Marshall's wrestling talents were shared with promoters elsewhere, regardless of who he contracted with.

That night in Kansas City, Marshall wore black trunks and black six-inch boots with black laces and white socks, their extra length folded over the tops of his boots. My suggestion, because the first time I saw him wrestle back in Tulsa, 1965, he looked like a... well, like a fruitcake. Had on those ugly white boots of mid-calf height and peach-colored trunks. They covered half his middle section and their seat reminded me of those things men wear when they can't control their bladder. You know, like diapers.

Nonetheless, Marshall Strendlehocker's athletic body demanded attention as he bounded down the aisle. Cheers rang out when his name was announced, so he did indeed have a following -- about fifty people, to be sarcastic about it. The silence was deafening, but wrestling superb. His opponent stood about six-three, weighed 290 and waddled like a hippo out of water. As usual, Marshall wasted no time. He applied one headlock, one hip toss, one reverse wrist lock and had the beast howling for mercy. He tried to roll out of his pain, but was too slow and too clueless to save himself. He submitted. Repeatedly slammed his hand to the mat while begging the referee to end his suffering. Match over in thirty-five seconds.

With a smattering of polite applause but mostly indifference coming from the few thousand sitting in the auditorium, Marshall's hand was raised by the referee and he exited the ring. He looked for me, gave me a stern, told-you-so look, and then broke a grin before marching the aisle toward the locker rooms. Five matches remained on the card, which meant Mr. Strendlehocker sat pretty low on Bart O'Connor's totem pole of importance, but with no desire to watch the rest of the show I headed back to see Marshall.

"Do you even need to shower?" I joked, greeting him as he sat on a bench unlacing his cutie-pie boots.

"Well, I did break a sweat during warm ups, so, yes, I will shower. Did I pass your talent test?"

"Sure. Like watching Oklahoma take on some junior high school team."

"Or Missouri. Ha!" Marshall's abdominals tightened to sculptured perfection when he laughed. "They're not much better."

"Granted."

"Regardless. OU always wins."

"Right, but who wants to see it?"

"People who love the sport, that's who."

"But none of those people are here, Marshall."

With his boots removed, he yanked off his socks and fired them into his locker. "They're here. They just haven't learned to appreciate what I can do. Not yet."

"It's not enough, Marshall. Sorry, but it's been tried before. You're not the first who thought pure wrestling could hold their attention."

"Time will tell. Meanwhile, you might as well forget about me, 'cause I ain't changing. Go watch some of these other fellas." He stood, dropped his trunks, taking jock strap with it. Naked and with one hand on hip, he pointed with the other. "See that guy? Go watch him. He'll give you what you're looking for."

I wheeled just in time to see a bare-backed man in black tights and black boots exit the locker room, as the announcer blurted out the name Jack Dubois. "What about him? He likes to mix it up? So what?"

"So, he's a street fighter. That's what you want. Isn't it?"

"No, Marshall, it isn't. I came here to meet you in person and to see you wrestle. Period. I fully intend to watch you again tomorrow night. I'll follow you and watch you in whatever tiny towns O'Connor sends you to during the week, and then I'll watch you again next weekend right here. I've never seen an athlete of your caliber, Marshall, and I've got no secret plans to trick you into doing anything you don't want to do. So, get your shower and let's go eat."

He scratched his belly. Scratched the back of his head and shook it like I was a mystery to him. "Give me ten," and he headed for the showers.

End of excerpt from the book. Copyright 2010

 

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Suspicious Diagnosis

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