MICK FOLEY (MANKIND) … BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF HAVE A NICE DAY: A TALE OF BLOOD AND SWEATSOCKS … WWE/WCW WRESTLER, 1985 2006 There’s such a thin line between winning and losing. Yet the laurels only go to the winner. The rush is always to the champion. JOHN R. TUNIS, juvenile sports novelist MICK FOLEY (MANKIND) 109 My dad made it clear we had to participate in sports, but winning and losing were never a priority in my house. He wanted us to be part of a team, and he made it clear that I was to play any three sports. But he also said that if after sophomore year in high school we didn’t want to play anymore, we didn’t have to. I ended up playing lacrosse as a junior, and I also fell in love with wrestling. At the time, I had no idea how much wrestling I would do of a different kind for a career. THE MOMENT One day my friend John McNulty walked up to me and said wrestling would be a good sport to take to get in shape for lacrosse season, so I signed up. It so happened I knew the sport well because my dad had taken me to matches since I was a little kid. I used to wrestle my brother, who had already discovered the sport. I was a lot bigger than him, but I ended up acquiring a little guy’s stylewhich meant being a leg wrestler.
I had some success and was able to work out every day with Kevin James, from The King of Queens. He was a starter on the team until he hurt his back, and then I ended up moving in as the heavyweight. MOVE TO PRO WRESTLING BRINGS DAD AND SON TO CENTER MAT My dad and I liked to watch the matches, even though we knew it was entertainment, but our relationship became strained as I got older, trying to live up to the legacy of Dr. Jack Foley. The only thing we didn’t argue about, in fact agreed on, was our interest in professional wrestling. When I went into it, few, including my parents, thought I would be successful, but I did it anyway. At first I wasn’t crazy about it, but I grew to love it and came to think of it as a great blend of theatrics and athletics. THE ACCIDENT THAT PAID OFF: PLAYING WITH PAIN I got my ear nearly cut off; I had six concussions and a broken jaw; broke my nose twice; separated my shoulder; had fifty-four stitches; a fractured shoulder; and second-degree burns. All these injuries happened in the 110 IT’S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME ring, but the injury that happened out of the ring was my big break. I got into a car accident and lost my two front teeth and truly thought my career was over.
The era of the missing tooth-wrestler had passed. But it turned out not to be a problem because a producer saw me and loved it, and my bank account grew. What I take most pride in is that I never missed a match because of an injury. I just wish I’d brought that work ethic, playing with pain and working hard all the time, to the high school football and lacrosse field. I know what I’ve learned in wrestling helped me become a better man. In the end, it brought my dad and me back together, and that was enough of a reward for me. SETTING GOALS, THE MICK WAY When I started, my goal was just to get in one match. But you raise your standards and I raised mine to get better, then to join the WWE, then to wrestle at Madison Square Garden. I did all that and more, but I never thought too far ahead. I just played as hard and for as long as I could and never worried about winning or losing. HIS REP AND WHO DESERVES THE RAP I was known as one of the nicest, hardest-working, play-in-pain guys in wrestling history.
True, the matches are scripted, but the hits, the falls, and the injuries are far from fake. I got that the work ethic, that ability to absorb pain, from my dad. My dad was my high school athletic director and revered in his profession. He was the hardest-working guy I have ever known. It was not easy growing up where I did with a name like Foley, simply because of his reputation. HIS MESSAGE TO KIDS My message to kids of all ages is to make your own standards of success. I tell them that I have met the rich, famous, attractive, and powerful, and I have always found myself most honored to be around people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping others. If it was not for wrestling, I would not have had the fame to bring that message to the kids or to make an impact on any level. MICK FOLEY (MANKIND) 111 MY WRAP He may not be in one of the traditional sports, but you can learn a lot from watching Mick Foley. His charm and work ethic should be applauded, and like so many others, he had some hard times at home before achieving success. The bar was set high for Mick and he cleared it. If you have a well-known dad or mom or an accomplished sibling, just know that Mick feels your pain.
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