PRISTINA, Kosovo - World Wrestling Entertainment stars officiated and offered encouragement and coaching as soldiers and civilians from Multinational Battle Group East donned sumo wrestling costumes and grappled with one another in the South Town Fitness Center here at Camp Bondsteel June 15.
The event, sponsored by Army Moral Welfare and Recreation, had soldiers hollering and hooting for friends and unit members as they struggled for dominance and prestige on the mat.
“Just go at it. Give it everything you’ve got,” screamed SGT Robert Sample, resource management officer.
Like many soldiers, Sample said he enjoyed the opportunity to have some fun.
Soldiers need to get out of their usual routine and have some excitement and laughter, and this was a chance to do that, said Sample.
For Staff Sgt. Donna Chavez, alternate communication security custodian, who put on the sumo costume and participated in a tag-team match, the yelling and cheering was just background noise.
“I was just focused on watching my partner’s back,” Chavez said. “And when I was on the mat, I was just looking to take them [her opponents] down.”
Besides being entertained by their peers, those gathered had the chance to talk, get autographs, ask questions and take photos with WWE stars Tony Atlas (Anthony White), Scotty 2 Hotty (Scott Garland), and WWE divas Tiffany (Taryn Terrell) and Savannah (Angela Fong).
Many of the questions that soldiers asked related to physical fitness and what soldiers could do to maintain a better looking physique.
Keep changing up your workout routine, do fun things you enjoy and eat well, said Savannah.
For those who were specifically interested in getting more defined abs, Hotty had two words of advice: diet and planking.
Planking is a workout that begins with your forearms and toes on the floor and requires one to keep their torso straight and rigid and their body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending. The head is relaxed and should be looking at the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds to start. Over time work up to 30, 45 or 60 seconds.
“Honestly what you eat makes a difference, so eat low fat foods and eat five to six small meals a day,” said Hotty. “Do more exercises that require stabilizing your body, like planking and push-ups, those will really develop your abdominal muscles.”
Many soldiers expressed their appreciation for the entertainers taking time to support the troops.
“It always helps to have people travel all this way to support us and show they care,” said Sample.
At the same time, many of the WWE stars expressed their gratitude for the soldiers.
“Freedom isn’t free. The only reason why I have that freedom is because of military members,” said Atlas, as he was addressing those in attendance. “We have brave men and women who fight not only for the U.S., but also for others around the world, and we’re grateful for all that you do. God bless each and every one of you and thank you for the opportunity to visit. It’s a privilege to be here.”
Scotty 2 Hotty was thrilled with his chance to intermingle with the troops and hopes to do it again.
“I did the 5K run this morning with some of the soldiers and it was awesome,” Hotty said. “I’d never have guessed I’d have the chance to be with soldiers on the Army’s birthday, run and celebrating with them; what a privilege.”
WWE stars volunteered for the tour supporting military service members and many of them share similar sentiments on why they do it.
“When I was initially contacted, I was very interested in supporting the troops and getting the chance to thank them in person,” said Tiffany. “It’s been a really humbling experience to be amongst them and I appreciate the soldiers so much.”
Rocky Johnson, a popular wrestler in his own right in the 1970s and 1980s, well known for being the father of actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, wanted the chance to personally express his gratitude.
“I wanted to meet with soldiers, talk with them and tell them, ‘Thanks for all that you do’,” Johnson said. “Military members are doing a wonderful job all over the world, working as one unit to keeping us safe.”
Atlas took the time to share his favorite part of the tour is.
“To see the soldiers, to know they are safe and well cared for and that they are able to keep their spirits up under difficult circumstances is the best part,” said Atlas. “They leave family, friends and make sacrifices and it is an honor to support military members.”
This work, Soldiers suit up for wrestling, by Capt. Casey Staheli, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.