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Rasslin' rage

Sunday, June 24, 2012

It may be home to MTS Taxi, but on Thursdays from fall to summer, 316 Holland St. is home to the highest-flying, most adrenaline-fueled act in town.

L.T. Falk has his opponent, Jocephus Brody, on the ropes. Jocephus wound up victorious, however.
(T-G Photo by Mitchell Petty)
You can feel the electricity as you walk up the ramp into the venue. Strobe lights and lasers dart across the dark floor as a dance song reverberates in the small arena. A genuine giant of a man marches through the locker room doorway.

Bad's now good

This is the feared wrestler, Yukon Jack. And after years of being the bad guy and having to run from fans in Shelbyville, he and his dancing introduction are now a fan favorite -- especially with the kids who join him for it.

Yukon is a regular at Shelbyville's All State Wrestling, organized and promoted by Glen Mullins. Mullins has been putting on his show in Shelbyville off and on for the past two-and-a-half decades, and he can rattle off a list of stars as long as your arm who have been through his doors over the years.

Mullins and his twin brother Ben got into wrestling as a tag-team duo in the 1980s called Double Impact. Mullins soon found his niche as a promoter and announcer, however, and never looked back.

All about the show

"It's about putting on a good show from the first match to the last," Mullins said. "It's a psychology job. These people can see this on TV. My job is to throw a wrench in here and there."

After years ensuring that show goes on, it's obvious that he knows what he's doing. He says that All State Wrestling averages the highest attendance of any independent show in the state.

There are several ingredients that Mullins says are necessary to put on a good show. You've got to have a good announcer, a good, high ceiling to work with, and most importantly, experienced wrestlers.

"I want a guy that fits the bill," said Mullins. "You have guys wanting to get booked that haven't been trained. They don't understand the psychology of the work. It's like a dance, you can't lose each other. That's not to say it's choreographed, though. It's more of an instinct thing."

Physical side

Training as a wrestler is not to be overlooked, either.

"People realize it's entertainment, but it's also a sport," said Mullins. "These guys have got to be in shape.

"We used to do a non-pro event each year, and some guys that I grew up with wanted to do a match," he continued. "They said, 'We can do this, we've been training.' So I said, 'Well, get in the ring,' and rang the bell. I had a stopwatch, and it wasn't 50 seconds before they were in the corner, gasping for air. They thought they'd been going at it for five minutes."

One wrestler who frequents the ring in Shelbyville trained for nearly two years to perfect his craft. A former librarian, Jocephus Brody began training with L.T. Falk, then later with Dutch Mantell. Now, Jocephus is known to feud with Falk across the south, and recently beat him by submission for the first time in Shelbyville.

Jocephus is a towering brute that enters the arena wielding a handful of chains, and his time training is starting to pay off. While he still plans to wrestle in Shelbyville when possible, he will soon make his second trip to Chicago to work with the up-and-coming show, Resistance Pro.

"I like wrestling at the Big T Arena in Shelbyville because of the fans," Jocephus said. "They love to see a good old-fashioned wrestling match pitting two or more people against each other that really have something to fight about. They eat it up."

Pain and glory

Sometimes, people don't realize that there are techniques to wrestling. For example, if your head was to go down, you'd constrict your airways and run out of breath. You also have to have a big heart and a tolerance for pain.

"I've had 'em hurt here," Mullins said. "There was one guy that tried a back drop move, knowing better. He ended up with a cracked sternum."

"Sometimes I can hardly move," Yukon Jack said.

Yukon wrestles more nights than he has off, and is currently nursing a swollen ankle and bad hip.

"One guy went to hit me with a sign," he said. "The screw was loose, and it took my top lip with it. I finished the match, cleaned up the mess and went to the hospital.

"In 2002, I was in a six-man tag team match," Yukon continued. "A guy came off the apron onto me, and my kneecap popped out to the side. I popped it back in, finished the match, then headed to the hospital."

Those are just a couple of the nasty injuries Yukon could remember.

"I've had a few concussions, too, so sometimes I get sidetracked," he added.

It's a magnet

Through the years of pain, however, they keep coming back to Shelbyville's All State Wrestling on Thursdays. Partly because of working with Mullins, and partly because of the packed crowd.

"Glen's always helped everyone out," Yukon said. "With him, you've got to give 110 percent, whether there's 15 people or 100 people watching."

Yukon Jack also runs his own show on Fridays in Tullahoma at 106 Southside Drive. He's put on his show for nine years, but still values Mullins' opinions to this day.

Season finale

The final show of the season at Big T Arena on Holland Street will take place on Thursday, July 5, and will feature at least eight matches. At $7 for admission, Mullins expects all 300 tickets to sell out before bell time, so visit the office to purchase in advance. Complimentary parking is offered across the street by Absolute Auto.

Yukon Jack will be there, dancing away with his fans as usual while his opponent shivers at his formidable size. Mullins will be there, firing up the crowd and inciting feuds between the wrestlers. Who knows, there might even be a saw or sign flying around.

Best bet is for you to see for yourself. It's a guaranteed good time, and you're bound to be treated to a surprise or two.

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