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A mat legend in the Mick of time


By TIM BAINES -- Ottawa Sun
  As Mick Foley lay on the arena floor, his brain scrambled, his shoulder dislocated, his kidney badly bruised and a tooth knocked out, as much pain as he was in, he couldn't have known how wrestling fans had perhaps fully come to appreciate what a spectacular showman their hero really was. DUDE LOVE

But it wasn't enough. While fans gasped at how gutsy the 16-foot tumble off the top of a steel cage had been, while they marvelled at the courage of the wrestler who lay crumpled on the floor after crashing through a table, they couldn't have known that the match was far from over.

Not by a longshot. While they tried to cart Foley away on a stretcher, he staggered back toward the cage to go toe-to-toe with his opponent, The Undertaker. And moments later, at the King of the Ring event in June, Foley fell through the cage, onto the mat below. A dislocated jaw was the result. But still, Foley fought on, spreading thumbtacks on the floor.

OK, he would lose the match, as dictated by the WWF's script. But the 6-foot-2, 287-lb.-Foley 's legendary status as a man impervious to pain grew again.

So what was going through Foley's mind as he slammed into the table?

"I thought, 'that's a small table, and I'm moving really fast,' he says over the telephone line. "It seemed like it took forever. I guess it wouldn't have been so bad if I'd have had wings. It hurt a lot. I was wrestling two nights later, but it was really 10 weeks (before I felt better)."

Foley is an anomaly in the wrestling business. He has three personalities on the go: Mankind, Cactus Jack and Dude Love. Then there's Mr. Socko, his newest gimmick.

"For the fans, we're our characters 24 hours a day," says 33-year-old Foley, who's been wrestling professionally for more than 13 years. "It's like it's right out of Rocky or Rocky II. The kids follow you everywhere."

Dealing with pain in the ring is part of life for Foley, a 33-year-old New Yorker with a wife (Colette) and two children (Dewey, 6 and Noelle, 4).

"The kids love it," he says. "But maybe not so much after the King of the Ring. My daughter thinks I get hurt like that every night.

"I was a little down after that night, wondering if it was worth the pain. But the kind of positive reaction I got put things into perspective. It's the only time I've seen wrestlers give a standing ovation to a videotape."

Performing in front of thousands of people, on some nights with millions watching on TV, Foley has come a long way from his humble beginnings.

"I've performed in front of 18 people, I've wrestled in a parking lot in Ohio and grocery stores in Japan," he says.

When he's not being slammed into a bed of thumbtacks, when he's not being clubbed into headache land with a folding chair, you can probably find him off alone in a movie theatre, perhaps at an amusement park, or checking out a local monument.

He's got a sense of culture, a deep desire for adventure and a twinkle of mischief in his eyes.

His musical tastes include Steve Earle and the Kinks. He watches movies like Something About Mary, Austin Powers and Bride of Chucky.

And he cheers on his favourite sports teams -- the New York Yankees, New York Islanders and Chicago Bears.

"I try to avoid what I did in my first couple of years wrestling, where all I saw were airports and buildings," he says.

When Foley steps between the ropes tonight in the WWF card at the Corel Centre, involved in a Fatal Four Way match with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Undertaker and Kane, he'll be sweating his guts out. It's the only way he knows how.

And even skeptics, who scoff at wrestling, will have to give Foley the thumbs up for effort.

Mick Foley reviews

  • Foley autobiography an ear-ful
  • Extras in Foley's paperback not worth it
  • Christmas Chaos pure Foley fun

    Mick Foley stories

  • Foley: No Love lost for Austin (May 28, 1998)
  • A mat legend in the Mick of time (November 8, 1998)
  • Foley considered retirement (May 5, 1999)

    More on Mick Foley