Ready to rumble for sports support

Former wrestling stars top the bill at school’s fund-raiser.
Friday, September 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:01 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Are you ready for a slobberknocker?

Never heard of it? Well, Lincoln University is looking for a few good fans of professional wrestling who have.

Most likely, they’ll be fans willing to see World League Wrestling stars perform at a fund-raiser for the university’s athletic department.

The slobberknocking — a rough-and-tumble, anything-goes style of wrestling — begins at 7 p.m. tonight at Jason Gymnasium on the Jefferson City campus.

Former World Wrestling Entertainment star Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes and former National Wrestling Alliance World Champion Barry Windham will headline the event, sponsored by the Eldon-based World League Wrestling.

Ruth Lamb, assistant director of athletic business management for the university, said that the school has struggled to find money to continue to support their teams.

“We have been in dire straits,” Lamb said. “We have been doing everything we can the last couple years to raise money for the athletic department.”

Lamb said that the department could safely get through the remainder of the year, but if the troubles continue, the university may have to look into changing conferences. “We’ve done one of these in the past, and we had a pretty good turnout with that,” Lamb said. “It seems like mid-Missouri enjoys wrestling, and it’s something that we don’t offer as a collegiate sport. We wanted to give the community an opportunity to see something that they don’t usually get to see here at Lincoln University.”

Darren Smith, the school’s sports information coordinator, said that alleviate some of the pressures on the school’s smaller sports, such as tennis.

“The teams have equipment right now,” Smith said. “(But) you never know what could happen with the state budget. It’s just a matter of being better safe than sorry.”

The university is hoping that Rhodes and Windham, although both well out of their wrestling prime, will be enough to draw a large crowd..

“We’re looking for at least $500 to $1,000 for us to utilize for travel for the athletes, equipment and other needs that are necessary for an athletic department,” Lamb said.

Rhodes, who was known for his antics as “Goldust” inside the World Wrestling Entertainment ring, gained fame in the mid-1990s.

The league is run by Harley Race, a wrestling standout who recently was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame and held the National Wrestling Alliance world heavyweight championship eight times between 1973 and 1984. The majority of the league wrestlers were trained by Race himself.

“That’s how you survive in this business is by training your own talent,” Race said.

Race said the league is one of five independent wrestling leagues in Missouri. The organization averages 60 events a year, all fund-raisers.

“The wrestling business has been very good to me,” Race said. “It’s just a way of putting something back into the little communities that supported me.”

Lincoln University featured a World League Wrestling event in the past and made a commitment to Race to hold another.

General admission tickets cost $10, but fans have the opportunity to sit ringside for $15.

Twenty-five percent of ticket sales will be distributed to the school’s athletic department, along with 100 percent of the concession stand profits .

Jason Gymnasium’s capacity is 1,900. Lamb estimated that nearly half of the tickets for the event have already been sold.

“At most of the high schools and stuff that we do these events, a good turnout is about 500 or 600,” Race said. “I’m hoping that is what it will be this weekend.”

Smith said this is the first event scheduled to help raise money for the school’s athletics, but they have other ideas planned for the future.

“We’ll see how this turns out,” Smith said. “If it’s a success, we’ll hopefully look forward to doing it again in the spring with Harley Race’s group. And even if we don’t, we’re still going to find different avenues in raising money for the athletic department.”

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