LUDOWICI — Mr. Wrestling I & II, Black Jack Mulligan, Jack Briscoe, "Exotic" Adrian Street, "The Nature Boy" Rick Flair, and many more wrestlers from yesteryear are the inspiration of one Long County man.
Drew Toney has a BA in history and a master’s in adult education/community leadership. He has served in the Army, been a parole officer and is currently a teacher at Smiley Elementary School.
He doesn’t sound like the kind of guy, who you would expect to be running around in tights, body-slamming other men.
Well, the special education teacher is that kind of guy, traveling the area on the weekends and during the summer to compete as a professional wrestler.
And he loves it.
"All I ever wanted to do was wrestle. While I was in the Army, I took some leave and went down to Florida to be trained by Adrian Street, and I’ve been wrestling every since," Toney said.
Street was a flamboyant wrestler from Great Britain who gained notoriety in the 1970s and ‘80s. And, according to Toney, Street and his generation of wrestlers was much better than the wrestlers we now see on television.
"The wrestling was a lot better back then, it was more entertaining, and there was more regional action than we have today," Toney said.
He said there are many local wrestling events in different areas today, but there are only a few training centers recognized as having quality trainers.
"Nick Foley, William Regal, Gold Dust, WWE, and Adrian; you get quality training at these centers and maybe a few more, but not many," Toney said.
He said despite the quality of the wrestling today, it is getting better.
"It’s getting away from the blood. And the sex is fading out. Hulk Hogan changed wrestling and changed who watched it. He brought the kids to the matches."
According to Toney, wrestling is similar to a cartoon in that there is always a good guy and a bad guy and it should always be entertaining.
"A wrestling match is like a dance. If you have two people in the match who know how to wrestle, then they will know how to react to what the other one is doing" Toney said.
"But don’t think that just because the matches are predetermined that they are fake. It hurts when you wrestle. After a match, I will walk around banged up for a couple of days," he said.
Toney said that despite being "banged up," he hasn’t ever been seriously hurt, "I wrestle really safe. I like the working of the crowd, the jaw-jacking. Wrestling is for the fans, so I like to get the fans involved."
As a wrestler he has had matches in Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois and, of course, in Georgia.
Toney says he also hopes to bring wrestling closer to home and has the hopes that Long County High School will eventually have a team.
"I’m doing all I can to bring more attention to wrestling, and hopefully we will be able to get a team in the future, that will be up to the administration to decide."
Tony recently donned a mask, when wrestling came to Ludowici. And another card is planned in the future.
"If everything goes as planned, R&B Wrestling will be coming back in August, and this time I’ll probably be a good guy," Toney said.
If you’re interested in learning more about Toney and his wrestling, visit his Web site at www.fabfinishers.50webs.com.