IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, JAPAN
IWAKUNI, Japan - What do Randy Orton, the “Road Dogg” Jesse James and Chuck Palumbo all have in common? All three men were Marines and professional wrestlers sometime in their careers.
Sgt. Gaylon Summers, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 12 ground safety manager, hopes to be counted among those who have handled the stress of being a Marine and professional wrestler.
Summers, a Dyersburg, Tenn., native, has the tall, massive physique many would expect of a professional wrestler. As fate would have it, Summers became a professional wrestler on a whim.
“It’s always something I’ve wanted to do,” said Summers. “When I was stationed at Cherry Point, I heard a commercial for an independent wrestling show at a local gym. I asked for the contact information to the guy they were interviewing to see if there was any type of wrestling school near there. They said they didn’t, but were able to get me in contact with some other wrestlers and I started wrestling with them.”
Summers has been an avid fan of professional wrestling since he was a small child.
He spent many evenings with his relatives, watching the likes of Hulk Hogan, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and many other big-name wrestling stars from yesteryear. He was attracted to the spectacle and athleticism he saw on the screen.
“I started watching it when I was three or four years old,” said Summers. “Memphis wrestling was really big in the 80s and 90s and my grandfather was a big wrestling fan. Every Saturday morning, when I was staying with him, I would get up and watch that with him.”
After some time, Summers gradually spread his horizons to take in any and all wrestling programs he could.
“It got to the point where even if I wasn’t there, I was watching it,” said Summers. “I started watching World Championship Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance and World Wresting Entertainment.”
Upon becoming stationed here, Summers has wrestled various independent promotions in Japan. He eventually earned a tryout
with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and was told he had made the cut to train at their dojo in coming moths.
“I’m excited,” said Summers.
Summers credits the Marine Corps with instilling the type of discipline and confidence needed to consistently train as a wrestler.
“A lot of people think because it’s a scripted sport, it’s easy, it’s not,” Summers. “It’s given me a lot of discipline to push through the training. As much as I love it, there are some mornings when I’m hurting from training. I think it can only help because New Japan’s dojo, along with [Stampede Wrestling’s] Dungeon, are the two toughest places to train. If I didn’t have my Marine Corps background, I’d be a little more nervous going in there. I’m still nervous, but I don’t look at it as something I can’t do. I just know it’s going to be difficult.”
Though Summers is a diehard wrestling fan, he still is a man who juggles the responsibilities of being a Marine and family man, with a family who supports him.
“The first time I experienced it with him was when we watched it on TV,” said Sarah E. Summers. “At that point in time he had never actually wrestled.”
Sarah thought her husband’s desire to wrestle was just a weekend
“I didn’t know it would grow into what it has,” said Sarah. “I thought it was going to be something he did for fun.”
Now she has seen her husband’s genuine love for wrestling and lends her full support to his endeavors, trying to attend as many shows as possible.
Summers hopes he can open more Marines’ eyes to professional wrestling by eventually having New Japan and other wrestling promotions come and perform hows on base.
“I believe a lot of Marines would be open to it, even ones who aren’t really into wrestling,” said Summers. It would also be good to how the wrestling promotions, Marines like to see it.”
||IWAKUNI, YAMAGUCHI, JP
||DYERSBURG, TN, US
This work, Professional Marine balances being a professional wrestler, by Sgt Kenneth Trotter, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.