Amateur boxing at your local tavern is dead.
"Professional" wrestling rules all the more. Long live the king of the squared circle. The king of hair pulling, eye gouging and cross body blocks.
Three Ybor City businesses — Blue Devil Tattoo, Monique's Body Essentials (also a tattoo parlor) and Video Mayhem — have banded together to sponsor renegade wrestling at Masquerade. Slated to be a monthly event, the second show was Sept. 24. It's already a success.
It wasn't the $5 cover, or the $2 cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. It was the no-holds-barred, trash-talking, unrefined style of showmanship that the characters purveyed in the ring.
Actually, the wrestlers tended to spend as much time outside the ring as in — throwing each other over the top rope, brawling among the crowd, ramming each other into the club's handrails and concrete partitions.
A Dog Collar Match between "Ass Kickin" Kenny Chainz and "Playboy" Bobby York saw the gentlemen take the fight all the way into the men's bathroom.
Where amateur boxing failed was by mainly drawing a crowd of depraved, degenerate men attracted by the promise of seeing guys pummel each other, and toying with the possibility of lacing up gloves themselves.
The brand of violence promoted by this trio of Ybor shops, however, keeps the general depravity and degeneracy in the ring — or at least apart from the patrons.
This night's Masquerade crowd was an equal mix of young men and women, seemingly all bearing tattoos, who were not in the least bit annoyed by the DJ's selections of old Nine Inch Nails and White Zombie.
The first match was a lame meeting between the Masked Intruder, a twitchy, pudgy dude wearing a white Henley tucked into blue jeans and a Mexican wrestling mask, and Deathrow Jethro, escorted to the ring in a prison suit and shackles by a jail keeper and a dancer from 2001 Odyssey. Jethro tossed the Intruder around the ring like a limp sock, all the while bantering insults.
The crowd was ecstatic a couple matches later when Miss Naughty, a piercer at Blue Devil, took on Tongdee Jocsinp, a piercer at Monique's. Naughty threw 12-ouncers of Budweiser to her fans, toasted them and then downed a Bud herself before the bell.
Jocsinp beat her up pretty badly, though Naughty got her shots in. At one point late in the match, Naughty chugged a beer and became instantly revitalized — like Popeye after a can of spinach. But Naughty still got pinned.
Such are the heartbreaks of wrestling.
Miss Naughty has wrestled for about five or six months, though she's worked and trained for a couple years as a ringside manager under the tutelage of Mohamed Studd, a gnarly giant who's long cultivated local wrestling. Studd beat The New Enforcer (a.k.a. Bounty Hunter) in the Sept. 24 main event, avenging an earlier beating Naughty took at the hands of the Enforcer.
There's a lot of love out there.
That's another place amateur boxing went wrong. There was no love.
State Rep. Leslie Waters of Seminole is one politician who keeps a promise.
Waters says she told the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club back in August that she couldn't attend a Sept. 26 candidate debate with Democratic challenger Richard Langton. And, by golly, Waters didn't show at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.
That allowed Langton to crow that the two-term Republican representative was ducking him. (What do GOP incumbents have against the Tiger Bay Club? State Rep. Frank Farkas of St. Petersburg also skipped the club's well-attended luncheon forum for candidates in three of Pinellas County's House races.)
Contacted later, Waters expressed displeasure with the Tiger Bay Club as well as with Langton.
Waters claims club officers advertised her appearance knowing full well that she would be busy with a committee hearing on the state's fouled-up child welfare agency. "I told the Tiger Bay president that I didn't appreciate it," Waters informed Weekly Planet.
Tami Simms-Powel, Tiger Bay's executive director, says the club never named Waters in any advance publicity. "Rep. Waters has said some pretty nasty things about this," said Simms-Powel. "We would have loved to have heard her. Our members don't prefer one-sided debates of the issues."
As for Langton, Waters said: "It's unfortunate my opponent is whining so much."
OK, then, when will her schedule and that of Langton intersect within earshot of House District 51 voters? Waters was vague about potential debates before the Nov. 5 election.
"I have no idea what my opponent's schedule is going to be," she said. "He needs to concentrate on his own campaign."
—Francis X. Gilpin
If college-bound high school students do enough research, they can probably find scholarships that reward them for everything from being a minority to being a member of Mensa.
Now there's a college scholarship that students can earn just for eating — so long as what they're eating isn't meat.
The Vegetarian Resource Center has been around for 21 years. But this is the first year the center is offering a scholarship with money from an anonymous donor. The deadline to apply is Feb. 20, and applicants must be seniors this school year.
Two lucky students will get a whopping $5,000 for college if they can demonstrate that their vegetarianism has contributed to world peace. That's not as lofty a goal as it sounds, according to catalogue manager Jeannie McStay.
She says that she knows of kids who pass out information at their schools to promote National Meat-Out Day (March 20) and World Vegetarian Day (Oct. 1), even World Vegan Day (Nov. 1).
Kids today start pro-animal activism early by joining PETA, participating in protests and doing things as simple as baking, said McStay. "I know a 13-year-old that spends her weekends baking so other kids can see that baked goods can still taste good without eggs, milk or butter," said McStay.
"I think it's great for a lot of the kids who are actually working to make the world better to get recognition," she said.
The center has already received a lot of entries for the scholarship, and the competition will be fierce.
To win, students must write an essay on 16 subjects, including their challenges, restaurant recommendations, why they became vegetarian or vegan, and how they plan to promote their lifestyle in college. Kids also need to send in transcripts or report cards, three letters of recommendation (one from a teacher) and some evidence of their activism, which can include photos and newspaper stories.
Kids need to be clear on exactly what a vegetarian is. Some people consider themselves to be vegetarian if they eat fish. They're wrong, said McStay.
Vegetarians don't eat fish or other animal products like Jell-O. The center is not asking for stool samples or anything, but they have ways of weeding out the vegetarian fakers. So don't try it.
To get more information on the scholarship, becoming a vegetarian, check out the center's Web site at www.vrg.org.
Greens Top Bucs
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football, but they lost to the Hillsborough County commissioners.
Commissioners voted 5 to 2 on Sept. 24 to prevent the Bucs from building a $12-million training facility on part of 70 acres of Trout Creek Wilderness Park, near Morris Bridge Road.
County taxpayers were to pay for the facility, which would have included three football fields and 300,000 square feet of office space, through the Community Investment Tax (unofficial name: the Bucs Tax).
Despite facing a formidable offense led by Bucs attorneys John B. Grandoff III and Jonathan P. Jennewein, environmentalists tackled the issue by blitzing county officials and the news media.
"It's incompatible with the other green space in the area," said Hadrian Alegarbes of the proposal. Alegarbes, who leads free Sierra Club tours at Trout Creek Wilderness Park, pulled a Tampa Tribune editorial from his back pocket, citing the opinion of the newspaper he called "the voice of the people."
Commissioner Ronda Storms laughed. "I wasn't laughing at your presentation, sir," said Storms, apologizing for her disruption. "I was laughing at The Tampa Tribune "voice of the people' thing."
Grandoff reminded commissioners that county zoning and planning officials had recommended approval as long as the Bucs agreed to limit usage of field lights, which could disrupt animal hunting cycles.
"These are not the conditions we had in mind, but in the spirit of compromise, we agreed to these conditions," Grandoff said.
The concession didn't impress Storms, Jan Platt or Chairwoman Pat Frank, who offered the strongest commission objections. Storms said she couldn't justify destroying a nature preserve "so a bunch of guys can chase the little leather ball everywhere."
The two votes for the Bucs training facility came from development-friendly commissioners Jim Norman and Thomas Scott.
After the vote, Grandoff and Jennewein bee-lined for the door as if the building were about to implode. News reporters, led by WTVT-Ch. 13's Warren Elly, chased the attorneys down the steps only to find they had no comment. Elly had his own: "They're such wonderful people, aren't they?"