Life as a Jewish Professional Wrestler
By Ric 'The Equalizer' Drasin
In so many instances when people go through life and commit themselves to different roles, they are stifled by their family and friends and told not to do it. Each person must find his or her way and develop himself or herself to the fullest. Most people don't, they lack family encouragement. Parents telling their children, that they can't be an actor for instance. Actors come from another planet. You are our child, you can't be famous.
It holds back the person, stumps their self-esteem and keeps them to a position in life that they never move up from. I've seen friends become Lawyers and Doctors but the family goes elsewhere cause they don't trust that their kid knows what he's doing yet. Why? Cause that's little Johnny who used to get in trouble at school.
Famous Doctors, Lawyers, Actors and others all came from different walks of life and family situations, but obviously they either had the support or the 'chutzpa' to do it regardless of negative input. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that their family didn't love them , they just wanted the best for their children and in the Jewish religion we always have been brought up to believe that we need a reputable profession and that would mean medical, or legal.
That brings me to my family. I don't want to bore you with this but it's for a reason and you can apply it to yourself, your children and even your parents.
My Mom and Dad of course encouraged me to get good grades in school and I did ok, but not great. I could have, but my sites were set on more creative things, like, music, art,
and things that would be fun to stand back and look at what I've done. Math, eh, it was ok, but I have a million uses for it today and am glad that I did. One class that really benefited me was typing. I got to keep my fingers busy and actually learned something.
That came in useful today on this computer for sure. But as a kid, at about 12, I took up the guitar. My Dad use to listen to me play and I got pretty good. My Mom always encouraged me to go forward with it, so I gathered up a friend, when I turned 15 and we started doing songs together. Soon we had a band and were playing gigs. My parents were always there to encourage me without fail. They showed up for every gig that I did. I really appreciated this so much. My Father took me to wrestling matches at the age of 8 and from then on and we never failed to go on Thursday nights. We'd come home and he'd try to put holds on me. I took up bodybuilding and weight lifting at 16 and started to put on muscle. My Dad was scheduled for open heart surgery and told me that when he got out, he wanted to train with me. He was inspirational in my training and encouraged me to keep going.
However my Father passed away during surgery and we never got to complete that commitment of training. IN his memory, I took it to the fullest and won Mr. America among other titles. I also went into Pro Wrestling because I liked it but I also knew that he did and whenever I'd enter the ring, I'd say, 'Thank you Dad for being here as my support." I never failed to say that. I even went back and wrestled over and over in the same arena that he took me to. My Mom, on the other hand didn't like wrestling but she bit the bullet and came down to LA with me to wait while I trained and saw my cuts and bruises. But, still she didn't discourage me and accepted what I wanted.
I moved to Los Angeles eventually, still wrestling, had a job with Kellogg's, and then took up acting. Still my Mom supported my wishes and me. To this day, even with all my injuries and the things that I've been through, she backs me and is proud of my accomplishments. I'm sure that my Dad would have been as well. I also have a Sister, 'Stef' who is older than me and moved out when I was about 11. She has always lived a distance from me, but we stay in touch pretty much daily or several times a week. Whereas siblings have jealousies, in this case it was different. We have totally different life styles but she has always been supportive of my career and me. I always get encouragement from her and she let's me know how proud she is of me. I love her for being the way she is.
Now, let's get into my immediate family. Before I married my wife Randi, I was raising my sons Adam and Shane who I love very much. Being a Wrestler and Actor, I was able to spend a lot of time with them. I included them in every facet of my life. They were 4 ½ and 2 at the time. I'd take them to the gym with me, lunch, put them down for a nap, change diapers and run a business from the garage. Yes, I was Mr. Mom. But I loved every minute of the responsibility. I didn't have that luxury with my Dad, so I was determined to give them all the love and encouragement I could. No matter what they wanted to try, I encouraged it as I felt it would make them well rounded. We had a lot of fun together. When I'd win a match in front of thousands of people, I'd bring them into the ring and raise their hands. I wanted them to know they were a big part of my life.
As time went on we did more and more together. They were really my best friends.
Well, a few years later, I met my wife Randi. She was 22, fresh out of college. Now, I've met and dated a lot of women. C'mon, would you expect any less of The Ric?
Remember RIC stands for, RUGGED, INTELECTUAL & CONFIDENT.
There was something different and fresh about her. She was upfront, beautiful, sweet, giving, smart and pretty much had everything I'd want in someone and it was a huge plus that she was actually Jewish. The only thing was that she was 22. What's wrong with that you ask? I was 42~! Sure, good for me, a young chick! But, I had already been through the things in life that she would want someday. I wasn't sure I'd want to go through all that again.
But she hung in there, God love her! She passed every test, put up with my crap, which can be pretty harsh sometimes, and encouraged me to keep pursuing my dreams. She has NEVER failed me. She accepted my boys with open arms and they felt the same about her. She even befriended my ex-wife to keep harmony in the family. She's organized, runs a successful business of her own and is an excellent Mother as well and she kept Judaism in our life. I am so very proud of her and fall in love with her everyday all over again.
We have a 12-year-old daughter, Sami between us who is equally as smart, beautiful, creative, funny and encouraging as well. I always have words of encouragement for her and give her the same amount of love I gave my boys. I get it back double in return. Sami is behind me with all of my endeavors as well. Sami, like Shane at that age always comes up with good advice and analogies for me. Wonder where they get that? But I listen to them as much as they listen to me. There is so much to be learned from your children.
These past years have not been easy raising 3 kids and being in a business that beats you up like wrestling and also one as insecure as acting. But, I've done well and made a living and a name. I have to give my family credit for hanging in there with me and believing in me, as it would have been extremely hard without them.
After amputating 3 fingers last year and detaching both quads this year and having double leg surgery, it's a tough thing to put up with. Randi was a super wife and was there for my every need. She went beyond the limits of man and I have so much respect and love for her. She took charge and got me back on my feet. My Son Shane has been there through all my accidents as well because he most likely was on the same shows with me. But he's extremely supportive and is there for every need I have. By the same token I have encouraged him through his music career, wrestling, workouts, etc. He's one of the best musicians around today. Adam was my number one Son and we did a lot of stuff together. He was a blast to be with and I was so happy to have a Son to play with. I remember him at 5 yrs old. getting up at 6:30 and watching the news and discussing it with me. What other kid does that?
Adam is married with 2 boys, and comes over to help me as well, and I always try to help him with his problems as well and guide him through life. He's always there for me when I need him and I really appreciate that. It wasn't long before Adam and Shane showed interest in playing guitar. I started teaching them and then they took it on their own and became great at it. I encouraged them in the same manner my parents encouraged me.
Sami is a little Mother to me and through all this surgery has helped me in the house, my bath and has even washed my feet since I couldn't reach them with these casts on.
Now my life is taking another turn in a different direction and at a different creative level. I have no doubts that all of my family will be there to back me and encourage me once again. I will make them proud and will be there for them unconditionally.
That's what it's all about and that's why I love them all so much. Apply this to your life and I wish you much success.
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Ric Drasin, pro wrestler, author, producer and businessman, is involved in senior fitness programs. He conducts motivated speaking engagements and demos and can be contacted through www.ricdrasin.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
from the November 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine