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Professor dropkicks wrestler stereotype
By TIFFANY MAYER - St. Catharines Standard


Daniel Glenday

Conjure an image of a professional wrestler and chances are Daniel Glenday won't come to mind.

At 173 pounds, Glenday doesn't sound like a force to be reckoned with.

Add to that he's 61, and he sounds even less intimidating.

But Glenday, a.k.a. the People's Prof, can take a boot to the groin and pin down his opponents with the best of them.

The Brock University sociology professor by day -- and most nights, save for one recently when he stepped into the ring to brawl -- can also give a steel chair to the head, academically speaking, to any professional wrestling naysayer.

The spectacle that Glenday describes as part theatrics and part sport isn't to blame for all the social ills pro-wrestling detractors say it is, he said.

After spending the past three years teaching about and studying the body slamming men and women of indie wrestling, Glenday maintains it's a bastion of the human condition, not the right-wing, homophobic, violent maker of bullies it's been made out to be.

"Everyone I was interviewing always had a really interesting story," Glenday said. "They confirmed for me there was something special about pro wrestling."

Take Sexxxy Eddie (Eddy Dorozowsky), popular in Quebec, who told Glenday that wrestling helped make him "normal."

Or femme fatale, Lufisto, who explained to Glenday how pro wrestling saved her life. She found self-esteem and acceptance after tagging along with a family member to wrestling camp as young woman.

Thanks to wrestling, Glenday said Lufisto has a solid career outside the ring at a high-tech company. Inside the ring, she's a force to fear.

So is Glenday when it comes to his understanding of the "working- class sub-culture" that is pro-wrestling and seems worlds away from the ivory tower of academia.

Glenday, who devoted 30 years of his career to labour studies, started to wonder if he was down for the count academically after a family tragedy in 2006.

"I thought, 'Do I want to spend the next five to six years studying unions and politics, or something else?'" Glenday said.

"I had to figure out something that would be different and crack a smile on people's faces,"

He woke up at 3 a.m. one day and had his answer.

After convincing university brass to let him delve into this little-researched topic, Glenday soon found himself teaching one of the most popular courses on the St. Catharines, Ontario, campus: the sociology of professional wrestling.

He also began his research, immersing himself in the world of pro-wrestling, and discovered it was misunderstood.

Wrestling is as real as it gets, from the people piling on the pile drivers to the masses taking them in, Glenday said.

"At indie shows, this was working-class culture," he said. "It was cheaper to bring a family to a pro-wrestling match than going to a movie."

Wrestling is "incredibly family-friendly," Glenday added.

He learned the wrestlingese and now drops words like kayfabe -- a secret -- into his conversations like it's his native tongue.

Suggest wrestling is fake and Glenday will soon have you down for the count, intellectually.

It's an art form, he said -- a combination of sport and theatre.

"If you see it in that respect, asking questions about whether it's fake is irrelevant," Glenday said. "It puts it on a different level and people can appreciate it for what it is."

As part of his academic smackdown of wrestling's cynics, Glenday recently attempted to smack down a hulking "heel" -- a bad guy in the wrestling world -- in the ring.

He trained for a year with Wainfleet native Chuck (The Butcher) Simpson (formerly known as "Pretty Boy" Chuck Simms) before making his professional wrestling debut -- and swan song -- last week against Pretty Boy Paige.

Glenday, clad in a Brock T-shirt and plenty of padding, endured a barrage of headlocks, knockdowns, pindowns and punches all in the name of what will become fodder for an academic text and documentary.

With each blow, Glenday said he had "to sell it. I'm in pain now."

After tagging out so teammate Mike Hart, a member of wrestling's first family, could take over and do some damage to Paige, Glenday was tagged back in for the final, victorious count in front of his students, there for a class assignment.

So did he know before showing off his pile-driving prowess that he was going to win?

That, Glenday said, is kayfabe. "I'll never say."