Story & photo by Brian McKim
On Wednesday, January 9, the junior high and high school students from Falls City Public were treated to an extraordinary motivational speaker. Thanks to the Boys and Girls Club from the Iowa Tribe, retired amateur boxer and former professional wrestler Marc Mero was in town.
The Boys and Girls Club services Hiawatha, Falls City, and Doniphan. Mero is best known for his wrestling days in the WWF during the “Attitude Era” and WCW and also TNA Wrestling. He was often paired with Sable, his wife at the time. Mero competed for 16 years in the pro wrestling circuit before retiring in 2006.
Mero, who was full of energy from start to finish, began the program and repeated many times throughout his talk to remember two words from the day, “I, believe.” He challenged the students to write their goals into existence today. By writing your goals on paper and placing it somewhere to see each and every day you are more likely to take action and achieve your goals.
Mero spoke of his time that he was involved in boxing. He was a four-time New York boxing champ, but a badly broken nose postponed a big fight and he was out of action for close to a year. Time off gave him the opportunity to make bad choices, and soon he was hanging out with the wrong crowd, drinking and getting high. Flash forward ten years, he hadn’t returned to boxing and had become a construction laborer. He had become just like the people he had surrounded himself with.
As a young child, Mero himself was severely bullied. He grew up in a divorced family and lived in a gang-infested area of Buffalo, New York. His mom had a hard time making ends meet so Mero would often wear old clothes or clothes that didn’t fit him properly to school. He remembers the kids being relentless in their attacks and coming home often in tears.
“You never know what another student is going through in life, words can kill,” said Mero. This was the reason he began the “Make it Stop” tour on bullying. He encouraged the students that if they get anything from the talk, it should be to open up and talk to somebody about their problems.
At around thirty years old Mero had an “Ah Ha” moment watching wrestling with his buddies in his apartment. He decided to pursue a career in wrestling and attended school in Florida. Within a year he had signed a contract and was named “Pro Wrestling Illustrated Rookie of the Year.” He had cleaned up his act and made it big. He had the big contract, the new car, the new house, everything that he had written down on paper years earlier. However, the first thing he did was surround himself with the wrong people again, and soon he was back into drugs and alcohol, only this time he was rich and famous and could afford it. He had everything, but because of all the wrong choices he was making he lost it all. Most of his wrestling friends and personal friends had died from drug overdoses. He had overdosed three times and should have been dead.
He repeated multiple time throughout the morning, “we are defined by our choices.” He made many poor choices in his life. He missed out several of the major events of his sister’s life, she later died from cancer at a young age, due to drugs and alcohol. Mero’s younger brother also died at a young age after fainting, hitting his head and never recovering. All his little brother ever wanted was to hang out and play catch with his big brother. Sadly his lifestyle of drugs and alcohol prevented him from taking the time to be a mentor to his brother. No money or fame could bring back his brother or sister. Drugs were more important to him at the time, and he missed out on their entire lives. “Life is not easy. Some storms you just have to hang on to whatever you can,” said Mero.
He did just that. He excelled in pro wrestling and after retirement decided to start giving back. “You make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give,” said Mero.
So that’s exactly what he started doing, giving back. “There is no greater joy than helping another person. When you help someone or inspire somebody else that is a great feeling, a great joy that you get out of that.” Mero has been traveling and spreading his story for over 12 years. He often gets letters from students he has spoken to in the past about how they achieved the goals and dreams that he encouraged them to write down. The dreams that they wrote down the day he had visited them 10 or 12 years earlier had now become a reality in their lives.
His ring life had many achievements that he is proud of, like standing across from Ric Flair for the first time after having watched Flair on television growing up — also winning the Intercontinental Title and the World Television Title. Achievements such as those made wrestling so enjoyable.
Mero is constantly busy traveling spreading his messages and encouraging students to reach out for help. “Last year I did 293 events. It’s quite amazing. We have three today, and in the last five days we’ve been to four states,” said Mero. “It’s incredible; they say when you find your passion you never have to work, I guess I’m unemployed. I love what I do.”