The Wrestler

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Mickey Rourke and The Wrestler brought back memories of a personal experience in the ring.

It was one of the scariest moments of my life.

Nine years ago, former professional wrestler Ed 'Sailor' White was running in the federal by-election in St. John's West.

I arranged an interview and, for a laugh, asked if he'd wrestle me.

He was involved with some local bouts and set up a meeting at the St. Kevin's High School gym, where a ring was set up for match that night.

After a brief intro, we got down to business.

Sailor took off his shirt, revealing big arms, a big chest, and big belly.

He was well over 300 pounds. (A wrestling hall of fame website says he was 360.)

As if that wasn't intimidating enough, after we put our hands on each other's shoulders, I was face to face with one of the most frightening mugs I'd ever seen.

His forehead was scarred from the same kind of razor blade cuts Rourke gave himself to draw blood in the movie.

Sailor also had long, stringy hair and a nasty, no-nonsense scowl.

I cursed under my breath and gulped.

This might hurt.

He told me to move him.

I couldn't make the guy budge.

It would have been easier to move Atlantic Place.

Then Sailor, former tag team champ of the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), went to work.

He picked me up like a Post-it note and pasted me to the mat.

He spun me around and slammed me, put me in headlocks and took me down in numerous ways.

It all happened very fast without pain, thankfully.

To finish off, Sailor wanted to jump off the top rope and land on me.

I started freaking out inside.

He sensed my unease and said, Don't worry. Lie flat, and don't move.

It was easy for him to say

He was the squisher, not the squishee.

Sailor scaled the ropes in the corner of the ring.

Just don't move, he shouted.

After he took flight and descended towards me, I was genuinely frightened.

I panicked, perspired and prayed.

It was all in fun, but how could this not hurt?

To brace for impact, I did the very thing Sailor asked me not to do.

I moved.

His ribs landed on my shoulder and he was obviously hurt.

He cursed and said, I told you not to move!

Sailor won our little match, despite the pain I inflicted in error, but he didn't take the by-election.

Loyola Hearn took the seat, with White finishing fifth.

The wrestler got back in the political ring in 2004, losing the Bonavista-Exploits seat to Scott Simms.

He died in August 2005, after a life as a tragic as the fictional one Rourke lived in The Wrestler.

While Sailor never made the movies, he sure made the moves.

Take my word for it.

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  • Elizabeth
    July 27, 2010 - 13:55

    Steve. I look at that picture of you and Sailor White every day at work. It was on the front page of The Charter on April 24, 2000 and someone made a 2 1/2 foot by 4 foot duplicate of the front page of that paper and we have it on our wall, where I see you face being pulled apart by SW each day. It always makes me laugh. Thanks for that and nice to see the original in your blog.