When you think of professional wrestlers, you typically think of larger than life characters, who would seem to be immune to bullying. It’s hard to imagine your favorite wrestler being bullied growing up, because we only know them as we see them today. After attending a couple of local wrestling events, I got to sit down and talk with a few of the wrestlers and the one thing that most of them had in common shocked me. The common theme of the night was bullying. Several wrestlers talked about how it was important to them to shed light on the epidemic because they also were once bullied in their life. Jax Dane, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, took it a step further and created an anti-bullying, anti-drug and anti-underage drinking organization, Walk The Path, with fellow wrestler Ray Rowe.
“This is a foundation that Ray and I decided to start,” said NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jax Dane. “At some point in our life, we were all bullied and wrestling has given us a platform to spread some messages. We just decided that these were probably the best messages that we could spread. You know it is a lot different now for kids than it was when we were growing up. Social media makes it almost impossible to escape from bullying if you think about it. When I was a kid, you might get bullied in school a little bit and then you get to go home to your parents and you escape. But now with social media, one press of a button and thousands of people can see what’s being said or what’s going on and we’re not talking about it enough to give these kids the ability to cope with stuff like that. To understand that things like this are going to happen and life goes on and once you get to your adult life, that stuff kind of becomes trivial. Walk The Path allows myself and Ray to spread the message and wrestling gives us the platform to do that. Almost everywhere we go, the kids want to know about the wrestling and we give them a little bit of that and then in turn they give us their attention and their time. So we talk to them about anti-bullying.”
In addition to talking with Jax Dane, I had a chance to catch up with other wrestlers to get their thoughts on the matter and what it means to them to be involved with Walk The Path.
“You know I feel really fortunate that I stumbled across Walk The Path,” said Christi Jaynes, a female wrestler who moved to the United States at the age of 7. “Most people don’t know this, but I am from Brazil. So when I came to America as a kid, I was an outsider. I didn’t speak English, looked different, I smelled different, everything about me was different. So I definitely got picked on a lot, not just because I couldn’t communicate with them, but because I was different and everyone is afraid of being different. So for me to be able to go out there and talk to these kids and let them know this isn’t going to last forever and there are people you can talk to that will help you out, It just hits really close to home and I am just very happy that I can be part of that, to help these kids out that are in tough spots.”
“To be able to show my support and be able to help the community is always a win and I love it,” said Ring Of Honor star ACH. “It means the world to me, because growing up, I was bullied and picked on a little bit. So I know how it feels to be a victim of things like that and not have someone tell you not to worry about it. In school they always tell you to just walk away, but I feel like kids need to hear a little bit more than just walk away, let it go. So, to be able to express to kids and tell them that there is someone here to support them and help them get through these tough times and let them know that situations like this won’t last forever and they will be able to overcome this. Being able to do that stuff man is an honor and a privilege and I am humbled and glad I get to do it. I love it.”
“The messages are something I stand for personally,” said Keith Lee. “Even before I got involved with Walk The Path, on my own time I did things similar to what we do now. Motivational speaking, going to churches, whatever the case may be. It is something that I stand for in my lifestyle and I have an admiration to keep it going and keep pushing the messages. There is a lot of families, kids and even adults that need this kind of message in their life.”
“I honestly, truly can’t say enough good things about Walk The Path,” began Pro Wrestling TeXas Heavyweight Champion Shane Taylor. “In today’s day and age, it’s very rare to see people do selfless things, let alone an entire company. I’ve actually been a part of few school trips where we did the anti-bully, anti-drug and stay in school rallies and the response that we get from the kids, from the parents, from the school, from the community, is absolutely incredible. To me, growing up in Cleveland, I saw a lot of my friends drop out, I saw a lot of my friends lose promising futures because of drugs, because of alcohol. I’ve seen them do crazy things, end up in jail and never go home. So to me, to be on the other side of that now and to be able to teach future generations that they can make different choices and the friends that I have had made, to me there is no greater reward than having this platform. I am a man that truly thinks that when you have the ability to do something great, you should and this platform gives me that opportunity to reach as many lives as possible. I look forward to being able to continue to spread this message with Walk The Path, Pro Wrestling TeXas, this is a match made in heaven.”
We also had a chance to catch up with former Pro Wrestling TeXas Heavyweight Champion Moonshine Mantel and he had the following to say about the message that Walk The Path is spreading everywhere they go. “Anytime you can be associated with a company that pushes that kind of message and gives a lot back, not only to the kids, but to the entire community, it’s an honor and a privilege. I take great pride in that, it’s a great thing and I am very lucky and blessed to be a part of this.”