Saturday, January 21, 2012

Harley Race Wrestling Academy

Riverfront Times out of St. Louis did a great piece on NWA Heavyweight Champion and wrestling legend, Harley Race and his school, Harley Race Wrestling Academy. Luckily the posters on WCMB brought this article to my attention.

School of Hard Knocks: Halfway down the road to ruin, ex-pro wrestler turns his life around through teaching
"My dad said I was going nowhere else but Harley," says Ted DiBiase Jr., who trained at the academy for a year before signing with the WWE in 2008. "He said, 'If you're gonna learn to do this, you're gonna learn from one of the best.'"
I cannot think of a greater compliment to a wrestling school than a man and worker like "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase insisting on his son attending it.
It is an underappreciated art form, a brutal-looking freestyle composition, part theater, part improv comedy, part mixed martial arts, part interpretive dance. While some wrestlers prefer to outline a match beforehand, Race's philosophy stresses extemporaneous thinking.
In what seems to be turning into a lost art, Harley focuses on being able to call matches in the ring on the fly.  Now I am a fan of the idea that whether a match is heavily scripted or not is irrelevant so long as it's entertaining.  That being said, I think it is essential to be able to "think on your feet" if you want to be a solid worker.
"It's crazy," Jeff remarks. "We're in the same building as Harley Race right now."
This is exactly how Norko and I felt when we passed Harley on the way out of the NWA Legends Fanfest in Atlanta last year. He was using a walker and trying to get in the door at the front of the hotel. It was incredible just standing that close to a wrestling legend such as Harley Race.

The article touches on a lot of painful incidents from Harley's life as well such as a bankruptcy, alcohol issues, several accidents that occurred under the influence of alcohol and the loss of two wives and a divorce from a third.  You owe it to yourself to read the entire article yourself, you will not be disappointed.