A painful night in the mudPublished 11:36pm Wednesday, April 16, 2014
By Frank Roberts
The Suffolk News-Herald is a family newspaper and does not carry dirty stories. Today, an exception to that rule.
The story is about mudslingers — not politicians, something less sinister. It is the story of four people who, for a couple of hours, lost their marbles. Three of them were respected citizens of the city. The fourth came from New York City, home of questionable salsa.
The marbles were lost on an October day in 1989 — lost in a big box of mud during Peanut Fest. Those involved were Jamie Brown and Herman Bunch, partnered against Glenn Martin and yours truly. The seven beauteous opponents were professional mud wrestlers, grappling as the Chicago Knockers.
The tough ladies from Chicago had just returned from “mudding” in Hawaii and drew a large crowd in Suffolk. Some Peanut people decided our quartet would be perfect fodder for the them.
The night was cool, the mud was cold, ooky, gooey, sticky, yucky-tasting. At first, our quartet was brazen, anticipating victory. The brazeness wore thin, the anticipation quickly became “un-anticipation.”
For me, that happened after my rib cage was stomped, the wind knocked out of me, my neck twisted in ways God never intended. The tough ladies had plenty of practice. They were at it about 300 days a year, and the pay is quite good. All they had to do was to make good citizens look bad.
My partner, the mysterious Glenn Martin, had wrestled in college, so he thought he had it made. Not really.
I called it quits after Round Two. One of the Knockers, the one with a heart, was not working that night, and she took me aside and suggested I go home to mommy. It was a good suggestion.
The breath had left my body, my poor, aching body when a big, blonde bombshell landed four-square on my delicate rib cage, turning me from rassler into spectator.
Meanwhile, Glenn carried on, even after getting knocked for a loop or three. As for Brown and Bunch, they put on quite a show, whoopin’ and hollerin’. They quieted down after Bunch got banged on the bean and went straight down.
We all had to sign waivers noting that if we were hospitalized or fatally injured, our insurance companies would have to pay, not theirs. It was our fault for being stupid.
I came into the ring in a blaze of glory. I was (honestly) The Suffolk Hulk, complete with T-shirt proclaiming thus and a cape. Paula Tabor, my lovely manager, put it all together. I had (really) some groupies, and I even tossed out Snicker bars to the kiddies.
Before all the activity, we met with the girls, who gave us advice on handling the situation but, when the one-sided fighting began, it became obvious they meant business. They didn’t hold back but, bless their pea-pickin’ hearts, they did whisper compliments if they liked the way we moved.
One of the gals told Herman he was good — acting like he was really hurt. He wasn’t acting.
Once the fighting starts, the Knockers come at you hard. But, it was fun — sorta. The audience loved it.
And, I must tell you about my No. 1 fan, a dear old lady who called me earlier in the week. The senior citizen (a category I am now in) wished me luck. “I want to get there early so I can get up front,” she said.
Before I got into the ring, she leaned over and said, “I hope they don’t hurt you.”
Well, ma’am — they did.
During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at email@example.com.