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Thanks, Dad
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By Christopher G. Palacios

It was 1982, and I was 10. It was an ordinary Saturday morning for me, just a little kid eating Cocoa Puffs and watching cartoons on television.

It was around 11,  just before "This Week In Baseball" would air. I was a big baseball fan at the time, and hearing Mel Allen's voice cover the highlights of the past week was something that got me ready for the Saturday afternoon baseball "Game of the Week."

Little did I know that the program airing before "This Week In Baseball" would change my life forever.

That program was Southwest Championship Wrestling, a promotion based out of San Antonio, Texas. At the time, I had no idea what I was watching, but I couldn't keep my eyes off of it. My father was sitting in the living room with me when my eyes first encountered this strange program. I think he could sense that I wasn't quite sure what to make of the program, so he spent some time explaining the ins and outs of professional wrestling.

I was enthralled by it all. Something about Exotic Adrian Street and Miss Linda just pulled me in. The way Jonathan Boyd and the Sheepherders destroyed all of their opponents had me fixated on the show. Before both of us realized it, Southwest Championship Wrestling had become a "can't miss" show for both my father and me, even though my father probably wouldn't admit to it at the time. He would always bring up that he went to high school with Virgil "Dusty Rhodes" Runnels, thus he had to allow his son to watch wrestling.

After a few months, Saturdays became "wrestling days" in the Palacios household. It didn't take long for me to bump into World Class Championship Wrestling, which aired after "Saturday Night Live" in the Austin area. I instantly became a fan of the Von Erichs and Chris Adams while booing the evil Freebirds and "Handsome Halfbreed" Gino Hernandez.

Yet to this day, I can't remember a 10th of what I saw on those wrestling programs. And to this day, I can remember every time my father took me to a wrestling show.

There was the time my father hauled me and my brother James to a World Class Championship Wrestling show. My brother was at the souvenir stand buying a mask and was heading back to our general admission seat when he bumped into The Missing Link, who was on his way to the ring. The Link looked down at my brother, who was about 9 at the time, and grabbed his trademark patch of hair on the front of his head. My brother, who didn't want to admit he was temporarily freaked out, returned to his seat while my father and I shared a laugh.

There was the night where my father landed fifth row ringside seats for a NWA World title match between Ric Flair and Kerry Von Erich at the Austin City Coliseum. My father had to tell us what was happening because my friend Brad and I couldn't see a thing. Turns out the four rows in front of us decided to stand for most of the evening.

There was the afternoon show at the Coliseum, which featured a scaffold match between Bobby Fulton and Eric Embry where the loser would leave town. When we arrived at the show, it was already sold out. The looks on his sons' faces must have been pretty grim, because my father decided we could wait near the side of the building where the wrestlers exited to get a few autographs.

As I grew older, I continued to watch, but the wide-eyed innocence of youth had long since passed. By the time I had reached my 20th birthday, I was becoming a "hardcore" fan.

About 6 months after my 20th birthday, my father passed away. From that day on, the memories I shared with my father became my most cherished possessions.

People ask me to this day why I watch wrestling. I guess most people consider it a phase of a child's life...become a wrestling fan, then gain a few years of life experience and dismiss it.

Wrestling is more than that to me. In an odd sort of way, wrestling is a tangible link to the relationship I had with my father. I am very fortunate that I enjoy wrestling to this day.

Unfortunately, the feelings I had toward wrestling when I was a young boy have long since passed. Hopefully, watching some of the tapes in the WrestlingClassics.com collection will bring back some of those memories.

And when I watch those tapes, I know my father will be there watching them with me.

That's when wrestling becomes more than the show. It becomes a part of your life.

Thanks, Dad.

Christopher G. Palacios is a reporter for "The Wrestling Lariat" newsletter and 1wrestling.com. Chris has also written for the "Chairshots" newsletter. Questions or comments for Christopher can be sent via e-mail to chrispalacios@webtv.net.

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