Wrestler Comes Home For A Few Rounds

Orlando Sentinel – October 6, 1990
By Frank Carroll

KISSIMMEE — The ”Dirty White Boy,” St. Cloud’s John Bohannon, tops a professional wrestling card Saturday at the Osceola Boys Club on Thacker Avenue. A four-match show gets under way at 7:30 p.m.

Bohannon, 23, said he wrestled junior varsity matches for St. Cloud High School in the mid-1980s, but an injury prevented him from advancing to varsity competition.

”I’ve been watching pro wrestling since I was 5 and it was always my dream to do it,” said Bohannon, who works in his father’s Orlando woodworking shop when not grunting and groaning in the ring. ”I was a fan long before I was a wrestler.”

Marilyn Everett, branch director for the Osceola County Boys Club, said pro wrestling is a first for the facility, but stressed the event is more for publicity than fund-raising for the organization.

”This is their event,” she said. ”They’re paying our regular rental fee and we get a percentage of advertising sold in the program. What it does do for us is publicize to the community that there is an active club and building out here.”

A 6-foot-2, 260-pound heavyweight, Bohannon said his ring name has no significance.

”It just came to me,” said Bohannon, who is up against Marvelous Mark Mero, a former New York bodybuilding champion and Ultimate Warrior lookalike.

”It’s a small card, but what I like about it is that I’m coming home and it’ll give my family and friends a chance to see me someplace other than television,” Bohannon said.

Other matches: Caribbean champ Tyree Pride, the Haitian Sensation, versus Scott Allen; Bulldozer Brinkley, the world’s tallest wrestler at 7 feet 3 (taller than the WWF’s Andre the Giant) and 495 pounds, against Arachnaphobia – Black Widow and Tarantula – in a handicap match; and a world tag team title match pitting challengers Pedro Gonzales and Chico Martinez, the Latin Lowriders, against champions Bulldog Stone and The Gravedigger.

”I win more than I lose, but I do lose,” said Bohannon, who spent eight months learning the ropes in a training school conducted by Jerry Blair, general manager of All-Pro Championship Wrestling in Minneola in Lake County, before being licensed.

Skills he has acquired have provided a ”comfortable” income via matches on All-Pro, World Wrestling Federation, United States Wrestling Alliance and National Wrestling Alliance circuits throughout Florida, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.

He gets between $100 and $600 per match – how much depends on how big the sanctioning federation or the crowd is – but also has made big money traveling to compete in Japan.

Bohannon said he was paid $22,000 for each of four trips to Japan, where he wrestled every night for a month.

The income may be kind to his bank account, but Bohannon has paid a physical price for it with cuts over his eyes, a broken nose (twice), broken arm (twice), and 37 stitches in a bicep after a barbed wire match.

”That’s about it, thank God,” he said.

Bohannon has a sore hip from a match Monday in Gainesville, Ga., where he battled NWA television champion Arn Anderson to a 20-minute draw, a match WTBS plans to televise in two weeks.

True to his profession, Bohannon said professional wrestlers follow no scripts, that winners and losers aren’t predetermined.

”It’s real,” he said.

”Anyone who doesn’t believe it is welcome into the ring and I’ll prove it’s not fake.

”There are no scripts. Most of the time I don’t know who I’m wrestling until I get there.”

From a fan’s perspective Bohannon is a ”bad guy.”

”Whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy isn’t up to you. The people in the audience decide that,” he said. ”They don’t like me because I don’t pay them any attention. I don’t worry about it. I just wrestle.”

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