Sunday, August 10, 2008


This article was written in January of 1999.

As usual, “Lige” Craig opened the day’s discussion: “What do you guys think about those folks up in Minnesota electing a professional wrestler as their governor? Do you think one of those grunt and groan guys can really run a state?”

“Sprout” Brussel, the historian of the group, scratched his head. “Well, a number of successful leaders, even presidents, built their political careers on military, sports, or acting experience. I don’t know whether or not our first president, George Washington, was much of an athlete, but books say he once threw a dollar clean across the Potomac River.”

“And a lot of later presidents broke that record by throwing billions of dollars across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,” commented Phillip “Pill” Dougherty, the designated pessimist of the group.

“Some books say good old Honest Abe Lincoln was every bit as well known for his wrestling skill as he was for his story telling and debating ability when he was young. And he turned out to be about as good a president as we’re ever going to get,” Sprout commented.

“President Reagan was said to be a fairly good athlete,” Ed Austin added. “And he announced the Cub’s games on the radio. He was real convincing as George Gipp in the Knute Rockne movie. When Rockne asked them to, the Notre Dame team went right out there and ‘won one for the Gipper.’”

“They say Ex-President Gerald Ford played a lot of college football,” remarked Ed’s brother Jake.

“Some of his worst critics always maintained that he’d played a few too many games without wearing his helmet,” Pill grumbled.

“I don’t know about that, but I once saw him on TV showing some interviewers a big scar he’d received on the gridiron when he made solid contact with a great football player named Jay Berwanger,” Jake replied.

“Maybe he just got the scar from bumping into something. Ford was always known to be kind of clumsy,” was Pill’s observation.

Grandpa Lowther rubbed his chin. “I recall a Dubuque boy named Jay Berwanger. He played a lot of football. Wouldn’t that be something, to always be able to say you’d put a scar on a president? Think of that: A US president carrying around your own personal scar that you’d put on him!”

Sprout grinned. “But getting back to this Jesse “The Body” Ventura guy, he just might have the ideal background for politics. He has military, athletic, and show business experience to spare.”

“Well, pro wrestling alone could fit a man for politics,” Lige opined. “We’ve all watched those pre-match interviews where the contestants boast about what they are going to do to their opponents when they get them in the ring. And what they are going to do for the sport once they’ve won the title. A lot of bluff and brag and quite a few ‘half-truths, at best.’ Pretty much the same as your average run-of-the-mill political campaign speech.”

“I remember the matches out at the old Melody Mill,” said Grandpa. “Ken Fenelon was a great wrestler and a big name in the sport at one time. And he was a Dubuque boy, too.”

“I went to see the pro matches in a high school gymnasium on a Sunday afternoon once,” Jake recalled. “Some of those wrestlers were so mean and bitter at each other that they entered from opposite ends of the gym. But they must have gotten their differences settled in the ring. I noticed that when they left, they all rode back to Des Moines in the same van.”

“In the political arena, that’s generally referred to as ‘eating out of the same trough,’” Sprout explained.

“Politics makes strange bedfellows,” Pill reasoned.


I’m a tried-and-true wrestling fan –
And have been for many years.
I’ve studied all the holds and moves,
Seen the action, sweat, and tears,

I’ve watched the pre-match interviews
With bluff and bluster to spare
Like so many campaign speeches –
Made up mostly of hot air.

I’ve heard those giants grunt and groan
And pull and tug and strain;
I’ve seen many a grimace, when
They could scarcely stand the pain.

I’ve seen them raised, then body-slammed
On hard gymnasium floors.
Some got beat up with folding chairs
And thrown right through hardwood doors.

I watched a “Texas Death Match” once –
Most came through without a scar –
Later those mortal enemies
All rode home in the same car.

Some say a wrestler must depend
Quite a bit on acting skill,
‘Cause he must please us gullible
Paying folks who foot the bill.

But Jesse has me wondering
All about this wrestling game.
I once halfway believed, but now
It will never be the same:

I’ll wonder, as each wrestler goes
Through his bag of dirty tricks:
Is he only preparing for
A career in politics?

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