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Lou Thesz Discovers the Fountain of Youth
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By Lou Thesz
Six-time World heavyweight champion

Note: Lou Thesz has a Message Board on his Web site, the Lou Thesz Message Board Forum. You can ask Thesz questions directly. You can see photos and listen to an interview with Thesz on the official Lou Thesz Web site. You can also get information about Thesz' biography Hooker, one of the definitive histories of professional wrestling. He also has a Collector's Edition Photo Biography available. 

25 November, 1999 Thanksgiving Day - Where does the time go? And I don't mean since the last column I did. I have been pretty busy, and the time seems to go faster at my age. Does it have anything to do with the "digit change"? The new millennium does not begin with the year zero!

However, St. Louis disregarded the final year in this millennium and celebrated a Century of St.Louis Sports this month. I was honored to be included with such greats as Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Red Schoendienst, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and too many more to mention. The football players, soccer players, basketball players, tennis players, swimmers, and Olympic athletes were represented. I was the only wrestler there, and it was easy to see I was not really considered an "athlete" by some folk, but the reception was wonderful, my wife, Charlie, and I were treated like royalty by the promoters of the event (St. Louis Sports Commission), and we had a terrific time with fellow athletes. Many of the fellow athletes, although retired, had watched me wrestle when they were kids. An event like this one does give me lots to reflect on for a Thanksgiving Day.

Wrestling and my career give me the most to be thankful for. It has been the center of my existence for 70 plus years and is responsible for all the other wonder in my life - the people I love. I would have had my sisters and parents without wrestling, but I cannot think of one other wonderful part of my life I would have experienced - if I had taken over my father's shoe repair shop, for instance. The people I have met, the friends I retain, and the women I loved and still love are all from my wrestling career. Because I wrestled, I had the world to chose from for my friends and experiences.

Whoa! Don't panic, I am not fatally ill. I was sounding pretty sentimental there. I also have wrestling to thank for my good health. I still work out at the gym three to four times a week. I won't kid you, I don't look like I did forty years ago, or even twenty, but I feel great and look presentable for an old man.

All of this reflection comes from a wonderful experience I had in St. Louis. My grandnephew attends an all boys private school - Chaminade - and I was invited to speak to the young wrestlers there. Then I really felt young again. To see the enthusiasm for wrestling was so exciting for me. It made me wish I had the money to go from school to school and drink from the fountain of youth. I was so amazed how much I related to young men 13 - 17 years old. Wrestling was the hook. They know what professional wrestling is today, but they also related to my cauliflower ear. Coaches have a hell of a time getting the wrestlers to wear their head gear. Those "ugly ears" are still trophies to wrestlers. No other sport teaches you self reliance and balance - emotional as well as physical - and a cauliflower ears says to the world - "I know where I am going so stand clear".

When you realize these young men have no stars in their eyes about a professional contract to wrestle in their future and not nearly the attention from the student body that the football or basketball players would get, it lets you know how much the sport itself means to them. On the up side, I have always noticed the young women give the amateur wrestlers lots of attention. I don't think it is only because the bodies are well developed. I truly believe the "attitude" is the major attraction. Wrestling gives a young person self confidence and can do that to any weight class competitor. Some of the lightweight guys are the toughest.

Sometime when you need a jump start to your senses, try attending a high school or college wrestling tournament in your area. The rules and point system will challenge your intellect, but the courage and one-on-one competition will grab your attention. These people add a new dimension to "focus".

Since I am being sentimental I might as well take the opportunity to thank all of you who keep my past alive. I do enjoy reliving the past, and as I say too often, according to Charlie, "I would just like to be able to do it all again."

Lou Thesz is arguably the greatest professional wrestler of all time. He held the World heavyweight championship six times in four different decades. He is the only wrestler to ever compete in seven different decades. His book, Hooker details the history of professional wrestling through his perspective as the top wrestler in the business. He has just released a Collector’s Edition Photo Biography. You can also visit the Lou Thesz Web site.

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