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Leatherface’ looks for local legacy
Seeks wrestling ‘superstar’ at free event
By ROSS ROMANIUK - Winnipeg Sun


From fire and fractures to barbed wire and even bombs, Rick Taras has experienced enormous pain across the world through wrestling. But the Winnipeg-area man has come home to try to pass the pleasure of his occupation onto others.

After 28 years on professional circuits from Canada and the U.S. to Japan and South Korea, Taras is returning to his roots on Saturday as part of an effort to find the next big Winnipeg rasslin’ name. At Norquay Community Centre at 2 p.m., he and some of his wrestling friends will stage a free, outdoor grappling event for the entertainment of anyone who drops by.

“I’m starting all over again,” Taras, 46, said Wednesday of his new career as a wrestling promoter, while organizing the event in Point Douglas.

“My main goal is to get young wrestlers from the community, teach them what I learned and give them the same opportunity that I was given. Because of being able to wrestle at clubs like this one, it really gave me an opportunity to learn a craft.”

At 6-foot-3 and, at times, up to 320 pounds, the native of the Springfield area showed natural talent in even his teenage years. Beginning in 1982, Taras — later going by the name Rick Patterson in wrestling circles — eventually left his family’s farm to hit rings throughout Canada and then in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Asia.

In Japan in 1993, it wasn’t long before Taras became the character Leatherface, now widely adored in that wrestling-crazy country. Wearing a mask and wielding a chainsaw like the macabre character in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, he soon became one of the mainstays of Japanese wrestling’s “death matches” — amid very real hazards.

“There would be barbed-wire matches and thumb-tack matches. There was lots of dirty, really crazy things involved,” Taras said fondly, also recalling “bomb matches” in which combatants could be “burned to a crisp” by explosives going off at ringside.

Taras, who had been an early tag-team partner of eventual WWE stars Chris Benoit and Mick Foley, will climb onto the makeshift ring at the Norquay club on Granville Street with whom he calls his “brotherhood of wrestlers,” and try to inspire youths at the same time.

“I’d like to find the next wrestling superstar, right here,” he said.

“Hopefully, we can continue the tradition of wrestlers from Winnipeg — and send them out into the world, and have them come home alive, in one piece and safe.”

RELATED LINKS

  • SLAM! Wrestling Canadian Hall of Fame: Rick Patterson