Why Mick Foley Was So Influential on My Life
A lot of people, including Robert J. Wright, laugh at me when I say that a wrestler completely changed my life. Which is fine and understandable....but it also happens to be the truth. Mick Foley and his Mankind character did absolutely impact and change my life.
Back in 1997, I was 10 or 11 years old. I was bullied. I'd get my butt kicked on a semi-regular basis. And when I wasn't getting beat up, I was on the run trying to avoid it. At that time in WWE programming (WWF actually at that time), the writers and producers were trying to find a way to humanize their most strange and deranged character...Mankind played by Mick Foley. To do that, in a groundbreaking way, they had Mick tell his real life story through the perspective of his character.
And during Mick's tale, on several occasions, he talked about being bullied...about being an outcast...about being a different from all the other kids and that just really hit home for me. Now, obviously, I couldn't connect with everything Mick said but what did hit home was the overall message of being the underdog and standing up to the bully.
Mick talks about playing Cowboys & Indians and always being the Indians because he always felt like the underdog and always felt he had to stand up for what he believed in. He talked about not being liked by classmates but earning their respect through toughness and blood. He talked about always wanting to be cheered on and respected and loved. All those messages hit home. I got it. And for whatever reason, something in me just clicked: I decided that I wouldn't run from bullies anymore. That I wouldn't be afraid to fight and bleed. I would stand up for what was right for me.
Then, a short time after that, my next door neighbor who was one of the biggest bullies in my life tried to push me around. And with Mankind's message still on my mind...I stood up to him for the first time in my life. And Billy the bully beat the hell out of me. But, I kept getting up. I kept fighting back. I busted his nose and lip. And then, as an act of desperation I suppose, Billy grabbed a small garden shovel and cracked me in the head with it.
I was gushing blood. I was concussed. I had no idea where I was. But, I knew I had to get up and keep fighting back. Wearing a gash on spaghetti legs, I chased Billy back into his home. My mother wasn't too happy that I had to get my forehead stitched up and was wearing a huge bandage on my head for my confirmation....But I was beyond thrilled.
Something was unlocked in me that I never knew I had. And from that day forward, I was never bullied again. People tried, but they never succeeded. Finally, all the neighborhood kids respected me, liked me, wanted to hang out. I got my first nickname, "The Brick Stick". My life completely changed. I quit being bullied, I had friends and in return I had confidence. It changed the course of my life. If I would have never seen that interview...I don't know how my life would have turned out.
I truly owe everything to Mick Foley, Jim Ross and Vince McMahon for coming up with that 4 part interview because it impacted a scared 11 year old boy in inexplicable ways and turned him into a man with no fear.
Getting to spend the weekend with him at Geek'd Con this year was a pleasure and something I'll always cherish.