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This week on TDR-
9:05 Rider Asst. Head Coach John Hangey joins us to update us on Rider Camps, recruits and
the looming fall. Rider is one of those small private colleges that embrace and endorse wrestling
and the values that the sport can instill in a young person. Bravo' Rider, Bravo!
9:20 Marty Morgan- Asst. Head Coach at Minnesota, the man the myth the legend. Recently
Marty has had a hand in training Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar in their post wrestling
MMA careers, both successful. Good job Marty! He also has a tremendous class coming
in to join his stable of top drawer athletes.
9:20 Marty will stay on the line as we're joined by his uncle, Pro Wrestling Great Red Bastien
Good article on Marty's dad and uncle, Red Bastien, found on the web, from Star Tribune 1970.
CARNY FIGHTS -- BULLIES, SWEAT, PRIDE
(Minneapolis Tribune, Sunday, May 3, 1970) By Merrill Swanon
The hundreds of nameless faces have been swallowed up by time, but the smells, sights and sounds of the carnival fighting shows remain fresh.The smell of ripe sawdust and sweat, the sight of countless town bullies crawling through the ring ropes, the sound of fists on flesh and breaking of bones will remain forever with Jim Morgan and Red Bastien.Those two, brothers-in-law now, were carnival fighters like Ruby Robert Fitzsimmons and Jack Dempsey were before them. The two hit the carnival circuit as teen-agers in the late 1940s and saw the "athletic shows" outdraw the girlie acts. Ten years later they also saw the athletic shows wither and die.
"One of the best fighters I ever saw," Morgan said, "also was a pretty good drinker. Half the time when you had a good fight for him you couldn't find him. He was apt to have been at a local tavern and fighting the town bully out in the street instead of bringing him back to the carnival where we wanted him."
Both Morgan and Bastien found their carnival background influenced their present and their future. Morgan, who used to paint the banners on the tentfront, got out of the wrestling and boxing circuit after 10 years to become an artist for the Bloomington school system, to raise a family of boxing sons and to coach in the Golden Gloves program; Bastien, who became a carnival wrestler at age 16, is using that experience in the studios of Ch. 11 and in auditoriums and arenas around the country as a professional wrestler."The only rich we got at the carnivals was rich in experience," Bastien said. "Our pay wasn't weekly - it was weakly. But I wrestled all sizes, shapes and colors, even though I weighed only about 145 pounds at the time. Most of the carnival wrestlers were middleweights - the biggery guys, the heavyweights, super heavyweights and dreadnaughts, could get work other places."
There often would be a stable of 8 to 10 fighters in the athletic shows - either boxers or wrestlers or both, as Morgan was.Frequently, when things got dull around the midway, the wrestlers from one show would hop into a car and roar into another carnival town to challenge that show's wrestlers."If you wrestled against another carnival fighter," Morgan said, "you'd tell that promoter you'd want 50 percent. Then they'd argue and maybe you wound up with 30 percent. Or maybe you wound up laying outside the tent someplace instead of getting your money. Sometimes the worst fight was afterwards."Some of the carny wrestlers had no names or nicknames or pseudonyms by choice or necessity - like Smiling Irish (a Jewish fellow who never smiled).
Some wore masks to protect their identity, for a number of reasons. Bastien wore a mask on the West Coast when he was in the Navy and wrestled the carnival circuit - against regulations. Others were collegians who wanted to protect their amateur standing. Still others didn't want to be recognized - period.Many, however, were proud of both their names and reputations and went on to become premier wrestlers on big-time cards, men like Bastien, Bobo Brazil, Johnny Moochy, Jack Guy and Chief Littlewolf.These men often fought each other for sport and for money on the carnival circuit, but more often it was the biggest and toughest man in town who answered the challenge.
"I remember one guy who was exactly 100 pounds heavier than I was," Morgan said. "He lifted bales of paper all day, and believe me he was strong. He could have lifted me like a feather. But I just moved around behind him, got him on the mat and that was the end of it. I wouldn't let him up."The lure for the challengers varied from money to the urge to prove their masculinity and toughness. Most shows offered from $100 to $150 to beat one of the house fighters."That $100 was a come on," Morgan said. "Most guys seemed to think that they'd get the $100 for wrestling for five minutes, which was the standard time limit. But they found it was $100 if they beat the carny fighter - and beating one of those pros was doggone hard to do."Between them, Morgan and Bastien wrestled close to 1,500 challengers in tiny rings and tiny, sweltering tents in tiny towns around the Midwest. Neither one lost a single bout to a tank-towner."And it was all or nothing," Bastien said. "There weren't many rules and it got pretty rough at times.""In boxing you'd just box," Morgan said, "but in wrestling you'd never know what was going to happen. A lot of them didn't know how to wrestle and they'd as likely come in and fist-fight with you. You learned pretty fast to hold your hands pretty high and keep your chin tucked down."
"In just about every town," Bastien said, "somebody was recognized as the toughest . . . the town bully. The people would go get him when the athletic show hit town and he'd have no choice but to get into the ring. Some of them were pretty tough, but they couldn't compete with the experience and knowledge of the pros."The usual procedure was to take it easy on the first candidate on the program. He wouldn't win, but he more than likely would climb out of the ring and tell his buddy that "it ain't that bad."Then his buddy would pick up the challenge . . . and his buddy, and so on through the night.
But pity the last one on the show."You're not going to chop up the first guy," Morgan said. "But late in the night, when the crowd was getting slim, the guy running the show would say 'let's go home' and you were supposed to take the last guy out of there in a hurry."Most whipped the last opponent of the night fair and square. But there were some carnival wrestlers who were not nearly so gentle."Some of them would break a guy's finger . . . or maybe even his arm . . . to get him out of there," Morgan said. "Or they'd cut him with an elbow. But if you were traveling with the carnival a broken ear or a broken nose didn't mean you had a day off coming. You'd just keep on going."
Sometimes the victim resented the beating he took. One, Morgan remembers, pulled a knife on the carny wrestler and Jim had to sneak into the ring and disarm him from behind."It was about the biggest knife I've ever seen," Morgan said.With an unruly crowd packed into the tent so the sides bulged, the famed "Hey, Rube" - a carny's call for help - was a very real thing."I've seen it used," Morgan said, "but only as a last resort. No carnival peron would ever say it unless he really is in trouble."Toward the end of the era, gimmicks became more popular than carny wrestler vs. town bully. There were tag-team matches, pitting carnival wrestlers vs. carnival wrestler, and there were women who issued a challenge to any male in the audience."Mildred Burke (who later became the women's world champion) was one of the women who toured the circuit," Morgan said. "I saw a couplee of women in the carnivals, but I never saw them wrestle. I guess the guys in the crowd didn't dare challenge them. I don't know if they weren't sure of how to wrestle them or were afraid of being beaten."
And that gets back to pride, which more than anything kept carnival wrestling alive for as long as it was."It was a tough life," Morgan said, "but there was something about it that kept making you come back to it. I remember that one day in some town in Minnesota - it was like all the little towns we wrestled in - where I had 13 straight matches."I won every one. I didn't win because I was making that much money, but because I enjoyed wrestling and I was proud of it. I didn't want to lose."And he didn't.But after a time, town toughs found other areas in which to emphasize their masculinity; soon, girlie shows were outdrawing the wrestlers.An era of American folklore was ending. But the smells, sights and sounds remain fresh to those who were there.(ED. NOTE - The above articles centering about the early days of Red Bastien are in a "tribute" book presented to the former wrestler, now 69, by his daughter-in-law, Marla Bastien, and her daughter, Keela, at the time of Bastien's ascension to the Cauliflower Alley Club presidency in February, 2000. Some of the correspondence, in response to Marla's Internet plea for photos, clips and other Bastien career memorabilia, is included below.)
9:40 John Rizzuti of Inside Texas Wrestling joins us to discuss all that's going on in Texas
10:05 Greg Nelson- The founder, owner and head coach at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy
in Minneapolis, Mn., Martial arts expert battles a rare and difficult cancer
Training Jacob Volkman makes his pro debut on Sept. 29, Brock Lesnar, Brock Larson
By anyone's standards, Greg Nelson is tough. The founder, owner and head coach at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy in Minneapolis, Min., he is one of the top martial artists in the world. Greg expects a great deal from his body and is familiar with the aches and pains that come with intense training and competition.
But in the spring of 2002, Greg began experiencing pain unlike any he'd known before. It started in his back and eventually moved down his body. His physician ran him through a battery of tests. A CAT scan revealed he had advanced non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He immediately started a six-month course of chemotherapy. After the fifth month of treatment, tests revealed his cancer had gone into remission.
Greg thought he'd wrestled another opponent into submission. But, he would quickly learn his battle with cancer was only beginning. Soon, a new pain emerged and, this time, coming up with a diagnosis and treatment required the combined expertise of a team of specialists at Mayo Clinic.
Unraveling a mystery
The new pain moved down Greg's body, and his muscles began to weaken. The 38-year-old, who just a year earlier had been winning gold medals in international jujitsu competitions, came to rely on a cane to help him walk.When Greg's pain began to spread and intensify, he was referred to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Min., for more testing The pain became so debilitating, he was admitted to the hospital. "Greg had such severe pain that we sent him to the intensive-care unit to be sedated and monitored," says Joseph Colgan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist. "His was probably the worst pain syndrome I've ever seen."While Nelson's wife, Vee, their children, Nina and Gunnar, and Nelson's mother waited at his bedside, a team of Mayo Clinic physicians worked to determine the cause of his pain. Initial testing showed no evidence of active lymphoma.
"When our standard testing failed to provide a cause for the pain, we were stuck," says Dr. Brian O'Neill, a Mayo Clinic neurologist. "It's at that point Mr. Nelson benefited from being at Mayo. Our approach to care meant we were able to spend enough time with him to carefully analyze the problem. We had access to state-of-the-art technology to help in our diagnosis. We were able to bring together a team of specialists to work together on finding a solution to the problem. Without that, I don't believe he would have survived."During one of the team's discussions, a member suggested using a high-powered MRI machine to scan Greg's nerves for cancer. The scan revealed a faint abnormality in his upper sciatic nerve. It would take a biopsy to determine whether the abnormality was cancer; however, the nerve has important motor fibers, and the procedure involved significant risk.
"Few people dare to do this type of surgery because it's very dangerous," says Dr. O'Neill. "If something goes wrong, the patient could be paralyzed."Robert Spinner, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurosurgeon, carefully removed a small portion of Greg's sciatic nerve for testing. The results came back positive for cancer. On Christmas Eve, physicians were finally able to tell Greg and his family what was causing his pain: a rare disease called neurolymphomatosis. It's a disease as uncommon as it is hard to pronounce. "I have only seen one other person with this disease in my entire career," says Dr. O'Neill. "There are only 33 examples of this in medical literature."
10:20 Brad Penrith- University of Northern Iowa Head Coach joins us. He's rehabbing
his shoulder after surgery, he's getting the room ready, he's solidifying his recruits
and team for the fall, he's chompping at the bit to get it going. We'll join this
recovering Hawkeye turned Panther for a state of the University interview. Should be fun.
10:40 Pat Santoro- Head Coach of the Terps of the University of Maryland. Its been said that the
Terps are one of the teams to beat this fall. Why? Coach Santoro has been beating the
bushes for the best recruits. Young men who are determined to make it to the top with him.
We'll discuss incoming freshmen and recruits. Who's the spark plug on the team? Tune in
and find out.