Throw Back Thursday – A GRAD MAKES A GO OF HIS DREAM
In 2005 Sid Sylum was just a young man with a wrestling dream.
Throw Back Thursday
The Now Newspaper Saturday June 11 2005
A GRAD MAKES A GO OF HIS DREAM
Sean Neligan (Sid Sylum)
Most children grow up dreaming about being an astronaut or a firefighter. I had different aspirations in life. While my peers idolized Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky, I idolized the like of Stone Cold and The Rock.
That’s right, I wanted to be a professional wrestler.
To most people that sounds absurd, but from the time I was 10 I dreamed about one day stepping between the ropes of a wrestling ring.
Music and fashions have come and gone, but wrestling has always been a part of my life, whether watching the WWE on TV, or going to the minor leagues in the flats of Surrey. I love wrestling at all levels, and in my mind it was only a matter of time before I became involved in it.
Seven years later I am weeks away from high school graduation, and while most of my peers are getting ready for the challenges of exams, I am preparing for an entirely different set of challenges. At the tender age of 17 I have enrolled myself in wrestling school – not your typical post-secondary endeavor.
The school itself is smack-dab in the middle of Whalley, a tiny kick boxing gym with no windows called Perfection Academy. The concrete is covered with multi-coloured puzzle mats with bits of equipment sprawled throughout. In one corner is our ring; in the other is a boxing ring, which appears to be a slab of concrete, covered in carpet with four ropes surrounding it.
The gym itself is run by one of the scariest men I have ever met, Jerome. His voice alone is scary. Add his physical characteristics into that and you have the most intimidating man in the place, wrestlers included. However, like most of the people I have met in the last couple of weeks, he is genuinely a nice guy. I still wouldn’t want to test his bad side.
Although one of the other trainees is on of my best friends, there is a sense of family
with everyone training. After playing football for nine years, the camaraderie I have experienced here amazes me. In a sport where everyone involved needs to work together, it is nice knowing that I have a good group of guys (and girls) to work with.
Waking up the day after training with your legs burning and a spine that feels like a contortionist’s isn’t for most people. Less than a week into it we already had somebody drop out, which was a little discouraging.
With so many wrestlers in the world today, a new wrestler’s hardest task can often be stepping out of the crowd and finding a gimmick that people will want to see. Take The Rock, for example; the third-generation wrestler debuted as just another young, fresh-faced wrestler looking to make a name for himself. People never took notice of him until he broke out of his mold and became an egotistical leader in the late 90s and, eventually, a charismatic hero in the early part of this decade. Even the plainest wrestler in the ring can become a legend with a good gimmick.
I have no gimmick in mind and fear that without the ability to pull off a good character, my career could be over well before it starts. Friends and co-workers have given me ideas but nothing has really jumped out at me, which is what it needs to do. Less than a month into training, however, my gimmick is the last thing on my mind, for without skills in the ring no one will want to watch me, regardless of my gimmick.
Hours of cardio, stretches and slams have quickly taken over my life seven days a week. If I’m not actually at wrestling then I am at home training or at the gym. My only homework is studying tapes of classic wrestlers to see how I can improve myself. It may not sound like much fun, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
The road ahead will be hard, but the payoff will be the most rewarding moment of my life.
Sean Neligan is graduating this month from Sullivan Heights Secondary. For the past few month, he has worked as an intern with the NOW editorial department to fulfill his Career and Personal Planning (CAP) hours.