At Rossville Middle School, the men and women stood up, put their hands over their hearts as the referee unfurled an American flag and an instrumental version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” played over the gym’s speakers.
Then a man with a blond mullet, displaying his tanned, hairless chest, announced that he was the greatest wrestler in the world and that Rob Stinson, the school’s history teacher and wrestling coach, was the champion of teachers. The crowd booed.
“What I’d like right now is for everyone to shut up while I take off my vest,” Stinson said. “There is only one real bad man in Rossville, and you’re looking at him.”
It’s easier to make people hate you than like you in wrestling, Stinson explained before the fundraising wrestling match Friday night. Also, he said, everybody wants to be the villain.
Stinson organized the wrestling match with the American Wrestling Federation to raise money for Rossville Middle School’s wrestling team.
Stinson had been going to wrestling matches since he was 5 years old, and he’d been watching AWF matches in Ringgold, Ga., for about five years, so he pitched the fundraising idea to Principal Glen Brown, who laughed but agreed to the event.
Most of the 190 chairs in the gymnasium were filled with kids, parents and grandparents.
“It’s too violent, even though I know it’s just in fun,” said Melitta Blaylock, who brought her 11-year-old grandson, Jason, to the match.
Jason, on the other hand, thought it was great.
Brown, who ended up going on stage for a match against Stinson and Jason Pelham, another Rossville Middle School teacher, said that the event wasn’t about money but bringing the Rossville community together.
“It’s all about being Rossville,” he said, while a wrestler from Ridgeland High and another from Ringgold High faced off in the ring.
Andrew Pantazi is an intern at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who says that when he was 7 he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life: play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche. Unfortunately, he says he wasn't any good at hockey, so he became a journalist instead. He writes about the lives we hide, like the man who suffered a stroke but smiled, or the football walk-on who endured 5 ...