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Backyard wrestlers get in the act

April 13, 2001

Backyard wrestlers get in the act



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

About 25 Washington County residents have found a way to stay out of trouble: They wrestle in a Hagerstown backyard.

The group of young professional wrestling fans practice wrestling together about once a week and have shows monthly. They range in age from 14 to 21.

The group, Young Championship Wrestling, has regular shows on a large lawn at 451 Clarendon St., at the intersection with Marshall Street. The group has been together about eight years.

"We all have fun," said Dan Harris, 17, who lives at 451 Clarendon and was in charge of a wrestling show there Friday.

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All the participants are friends, he said.

While most of them watch professional wrestling on television, they are different from some fans who imitate it by doing things like jumping off roofs and hurting those they wrestle with, Harris said.

The local wrestlers, most from Hagerstown, use common sense, he said. There have been bumps and bruisers but no serious injuries.

On Friday Harris, whose wrestling name is Skitzo, took on Zack Mentzer, whose wrestling name is New E.R.A. Harris came out in a black straightjacket.

A few wrestlers pretended they were Canadian, as some current professional wrestlers are. During a separate Friday match a wrestler encouraged local children who were spectators to cheer on the Canadians.

"Go Canada!" the children shouted.

Those involved said they enjoy the activity, which they called a combination of acting and athleticism.

But one professional wrestler cautioned that the activity may not be a good idea.

Backyard wrestling is dangerous, said John Rambo, president and booker at House of Pain, a local wrestling school sometimes known as the Neil Superior Pro Wrestling Training Center.

Professional wrestling is potentially harmful enough; people imitating it without proper training are putting themselves in danger, he said.

Many of the wrestlers at Friday's gathering said they aspire to go to wrestling schools and become professional wrestlers.

Their matches are videotaped so they can watch and learn from them later.

Al Kaylor, who lives near the wrestling match site, has a concern similar to Rambo's. He supports the activity "as long as they don't hurt themselves."

He sometimes watches the youths wrestling on the lawn. He prefers watching them to "the idiots on television."

Neighbor Chris Ledford said, "It keeps them out of trouble."

The group has its own Internet site at www.angelfire.com/wrestling/YCWrestling/index.html.

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