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WRESTLER’S EYE VIEW LOOKS AT THE PHILOSOPHY OF TRAINING, A FORMER WRESTLING FAN WHO HIT IT BIG IN MMA AND MORE

By Les Thatcher on 2008-04-10 09:58:17

Another piece of professional wrestling history has left us this past week. A lady who most of the current fans would not be familiar with, but was a mainstay in our business during the fifties and sixties passed away. Sara Lee who wrestled most of her career for the Nashville office was a solid worker and a very sweet lady. 

Most of you who knew of her at all remember her as the ticket lady in Music City for TNA, but she truly added much more to our industry.  I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Sara during ' 69 & ' 70 while booking out of Gulas/Welch. What touches me most at this time is how this will affect her husband of 51 years and best friend, former pro grappler Corsica Joe. When you saw Sara you saw Joe right up until my last contact with them at the Gulf Coast Reunion a couple of springs back. My heart felt condolences go out to Joe and their family.

Had an interesting question e-mailed to me the other day, and thought I would answer it here in the column.

The reader wanted to know if at this point after having trained wrestlers for 15 years had I changed my style, and ideas about how it should be done.  In a word, yes; but naturally there is more to it then just a single word. At the start I had never formally trained young athletes for a career in wrestling, and I have never been to any other training camp or school other then the one I attended myself in 1960. 

I realized the young men I inherited at the school I took over had not been properly prepared, so we all began from scratch and square one. I began developing a style and pattern at that time for running training and have never stopped trying to improve it, and continue to add to my regiment on a daily basis. In that regard I am proud to say that some of my drills I developed along the way are currently used in some of the best schools and camps nation wide.

At the beginning I took an elitist attitude that if you didn’t have the foundation for possibly moving up in the business you didn’t belong in the ring. Today I accept the fact that there are more hobbyists then those wanting a fulltime career at the entry level, but still expect whoever trains with me to give one hundred percent and strive to be the best their natural talent will allow.

During the early years my competitive drive made me a wild man at times as those training with me will attest. That in part was because I had no experienced support team to share the load, I had to juggle too many things alone, and I felt that if my name was on the product then it had to be the best possible. At the time I was also driven by my professional and competitive nature to establish myself as a trainer and our school as legitimate and a place to learn the right way.

Believe it or not, I have mellowed along the way. At this time, I feel I have proved my worth as a competent teacher, and can take a more relaxed attitude. Since my current training is for short periods in different locations I realize I don’t have the time to drive points home as strongly, and have taken the stance that I have the knowledge to offer you, but if you don’t want it fine; as it’s your lose not mine. However during those weekend camps I do ask those attending to be as serious, passionate, and intense as I am during out time in the ring. My goal is to leave them with something that will improve their performance as a professional wrestler and something they can use over and over again to hopefully move up the ladder is that is their goal.

One thing I still find consistent over the years is that anyone wanting to be good at this industry having natural talent or not must focus, dedicate, and push themselves to make that happen. 

Will I ever train fulltime again at a school? That’s really hard to say. I guess if the right opportunity came along I might give it a shot. 

This past Sunday night I co-hosted the “Observer Live” radio show with Bryan Alveraz and to my amazement found that I had touched the career of a current MMA lead announcer.  Mauro Ranallo commentator for “Showtime Elite XC” was our guest and after his introduction he began by reminding me that some years ago a mutual friend, writer Richard Berger sent me a demo tape of a young hopeful wrestling announcer who was getting his feet wet doing wrestling television in Western Canada. It was Mauro, and my report back to Richard about this kid having the tools was repeated back to me on the show Sunday night.

Ranallo is still a big pro wrestling fan, but not extremely high on the current product, and said he realized that even though MMA is a shoot, that entertainment is still what they are selling.  We talked about Elite XC’s debut coming up on CBS, Kimbo Slice, and Mauro’s involvement with Canada’s Fight Network, among other things.

What is really funny is that I have been watching the Showtime MMA events and thought that their lead announcer was tight and knowledgeable never realizing that he was the young announcer whose demo tape I had watched so long ago. I will now view these events with a renewed interest. 

To end this week I want to let everyone know what’s up that ask about my co-host on “Wrestling Weekly” Doc Young. Doc is having some health issues, tests have been run, and he may need surgery at some point. He asked me to give everyone his best and hopes to be back doing the show soon. I’ll ask you all to keep my buddy in your prayers.

Train hard and master your craft.

Till Next Time,
Les 

Les and Harley Race form Elite Pro Wrestling Training along with the principles left by former staff members Ricky Steamboat and Dr. Tom Prichard. For details on the company go to www.epwt.com. To book an EPWT seminar, camp, or one of the trainers contact Les at les@epwt.com.

Get your copy of “The Professional Wrestler’s Workout & Instructional Guide” by Harley, Ricky, Les, and Alex Marvez published by Sports Publishing LLC at your local bookstore, www.Highspots.com or one of several web sites.

Harley will be appearing at these World league Wrestling events. 4/11 Jefferson City, MO. 4/18 Richmond, MO. 4/19 Ottawa, KS. For details go to www.harleyrace.com .

“Wrestling Weekly” currently is on hiatus due to illness, and hopes to be back in early May.