SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
   Sun, February 22, 2009



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

PWG Battle of L.A.: Night 2


PWG Battle of L.A.: Night 1


SummerSlam


Kevin Steen


Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Legends Fan Fest


Raw in Miami


Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame inductions







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT




RECENT PHOTO GALLERIES: PWG Battle of L.A.: Night 1 | Night 2
SummerSlam | Kevin Steen
Mid-Atlantic Fan Fest | Tragos/Thesz HOF | ROH in Detroit

THE SCOOP: Visit our News & Rumours page.


Public perception of pro wrestling still an issue
By OLY OLSEN - For SLAM! Wrestling
Bookmark and Share


Cartoon by Donna Jean. CLICK HERE for a larger version of the cartoon.

The inconsistent public perception of pro wrestling is a very serious issue for former pro wrestlers as I recently found out when I was involved in an altercation in which I was forced to physically defend myself.

Upon retiring from pro wrestling, I entered the workforce in the regular world. This can be a dark journey that some wrestlers arenít able to make. You donít always get the same respect that you may be accustomed to. In fact, it has been my experience that some people just have to test you.

The altercation happened when a workplace bully could not intimidate me, and out of frustration, he assaulted me. Fortunately, I was able to defend myself effectively. As a result, I was terminated from the company. My firing became a case for arbitration, brought forth by a powerful labor union on my behalf.

The hearing was conducted by Mr. Thomas F. Levak who according to the University of Oregonís Quarterly Newspaper is not only a veteran attorney and arbitrator but he is a member of the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as a result of his over 250 gold medals and trophies including 15 world masters titles.

Mr. Levak opened the hearing bragging about his accomplishments in the martial arts. During the hearing, the opposing attorney brought up the fact that I am a former pro wrestler and proceeded to portray me as a "tough guy" pro wrestler who goes around punching people. He was interrupted by Mr. Levak who said, "it doesnít matter if Mr. Olsen is a former pro wrestler because not all pro wrestlers are good fighters." He had a smirk on his face when he made that statement and then proceeded to have a few laughs at the expense of pro wrestling. He also described details about pro wrestling that exposed the fact that he was a fan, even though he was mocking it.

One month later when Mr. Levak made the final decision on the case, he did an about face on the pro wrestling issue and ruled against us, largely because I am a former pro wrestler. In his final decision, he wrote, "Mr. Olsenís professional wrestling knowledge, his demonstrated ability to assume a solid defensive posture, and his overall physical condition, all would have enabled him to easily back away from his attacker without endangering himself." I donít lose sight of the fact that by making that statement, Mr. Levak is giving pro wrestling a lot of respect and I appreciate that, especially because he showed no respect in the hearing. Nonetheless, a Grand Master in the martial arts having the ludicrous notion that someone in good physical condition, who can assume a solid defensive posture, should not have the right to defend themselves is over shadowed only by Mr. Levakís inconsistent perception of pro wrestling.

In the hearing, Mr. Levak used pro wrestling to get some laughs, implying that it was a joke. Then he used pro wrestling in the decision to rule against us, when he stated that my professional wrestling knowledge would have helped me, implying that it is serious business. We lost the decision, costing me and the labor union thousands of dollars.

A casual fan having inconsistent perceptions of pro wrestling hurts no one, but Mr. Levak is not a casual fan, he is an attorney and arbitrator making legally binding decisions based on his inconsistent perceptions of pro wrestling. These decisions affect peopleís lives.

In my case, it cost me a lot of money. What price will be paid by the next pro wrestler in the same situation? Will pro wrestling be perceived as fake or real? Or will the decision be made by someone like arbitrator Thomas F. Levak who canít make up his mind what he thinks. Either way, we know who pays the price.

RELATED LINKS

  • June 7, 2007: Tradition still important to Oly Olsen
  • February 14, 2008 Oly Olsen Guest Column: An insider's take on the Steroid Issue
  • www.blackbootwrestling.com

    SUBMITTING A GUEST COLUMN
    We welcome your submissions. For details and criteria, Click Here.

    Todd "Oly" Olsen wrestled professionally for 15 years. He runs the website www.blackbootwrestling.com.