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  Mon, Feb 11, 2002



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Former Eskimo plans on opening wrestling school

By AJAY BHARDWAJ -- Edmonton Sun

 Jeff Thomas hopes to slam and bam wannabe wrestlers.

 The 36-year-old former Edmonton Eskimo and two partners are planning to open a wrestling school in the city.

 "It's fun," says Thomas, who's now a professional wrestler.

 "It's escapism. It gives you the licence to go out and have fun. If the match is going well and the crowd is into it, it's theatre," he said.

 At 6-foot-8 and 320 pounds, Thomas, also known as MAXXX Power, has spent three years and 60 bouts throwing, slamming and crushing opponents in the Western Canadian Extreme Wrestling outfit in Calgary.

 Now he wants to pass his knowledge of the "squared circle," as the wrestling ring is known, on to another generation of grapplers.

 Thomas has already been approached by eight potential students, even though two wrestling schools are already operating in the city and word about his hasn't officially gotten out.

 "Lots of people want to get into wrestling," says Ron Hayter, executive director of the Edmonton Boxing and Wrestling Commission.

 "I know lots of people phone me to find out where they can go to train. I tell them to call one of the promoters."

 But Hayter figures a school has to offer graduating students a place to compete - like a league - to be successful.

 Thomas is already thinking about that.

 "We'll start training guys and maybe we'll get to the point where we can get a circuit going," he says.

 There's still lots of work to do.

 Thomas and partners Sean Dunster - known by his wrestling moniker as Massive Damage - and King Lau, the Thunder From the East, are working on raising money and finding a venue for their wrestling school.

 "We're in the infancy stages," Thomas admits.

 Thomas grew up idolizing the likes of former World Wrestling Federation (WWF) champion Bret Hart, Brutus Beefcake, the Road Warriors and Don Muraco.

 While he still has aspirations of making it to the WWF, Thomas now has a full-time job as an account manager for a nutrition company, a wife and two kids.

 "You pretty much have to drop everything else to (wrestle at that level)," says Thomas. "You have to be in the ring constantly to build a reputation.

 "I'm realistic. It's like pro football, only about 5% of guys make it."

 Thomas was competing in strongman competitions in 1999 when he was introduced to Hart.

 He lived with the Harts in Calgary while he trained with former professional wrestler Leo Burke at the Hart family wrestling school.

 Thomas, who was born in London, Ont., grew up in Vancouver, B.C., and moved to Edmonton in 1993 to play for the Eskimos.

 He helped the team win a Grey Cup but was released from the team in 1994.

More on Jeff Thomas




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