When we walked through the doors here, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I haven’t been in this building in 20 years, but we came around the corner, walked through the door and the stairwell is in the same condition that we had left it in 20 years ago. All my dreams for wrestling, getting on the road to becoming what I wanted to be (which was to be a professional wrestler that travelled the world) all started here and walking up these stairs. So I’m going to do it one more time for old times sake.
My best friend, Adam Copeland (who wrestled as Edge), won an essay writing contest in our last year of high school to become a wrestler and it was a contest that was in the Toronto Sun. They used to do a wrestling column every weekend and Sully’s gym with Ron Hutchinson, Sweet Daddy Siki, they decided they were going to do this contest and train somebody for free and he wrote in. He wrote his essay, they liked his essay, he came in, they met him, they loved him and he started to train. He didn’t have a car at the time, so I would borrow my parents’ car and drive him down a lot of the times to his wrestling training, I would just sit in and watch knowing that eventually I was going to do it at some point. That’s how I found the gym because he was already training here and I used to come down and drive him, sit in on the classes and I got to know some of the other guys that were training here.
“I knew it was just a matter of time before I did start to train.”
The next year when we both went to Humber College, I got a student loan, the wrestling training at the time, I think, was about $1,500.00. I was flat broke, so I took a portion of the student loan money that I had that was supposed to be for my food & books for that semester and I used it to pay for wrestling training. I ate a lot of macaroni & cheese and potatoes, really cheap things and bought like second-hand books for the semester because I just wanted to be a wrestler and I just wanted to make it happen somehow.
That’s how I found out about the gym and I already kind of knew, thankfully, because of Adam what I was getting into. I had a little bit of knowledge beforehand but I was super excited the day that I finally got to walk through the doors to train rather than just to watch. That was a pretty big day for me.
I don’t know if there’s necessarily an “a-ha” moment. It was something that I wanted from the moment that I started watching wrestling and there was never a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to make it. I knew I was a smaller guy, I had a pretty big hill to climb, but I was up for the challenge and every time somebody told me I don’t think you can do that, it’s too hard to get in or you’re too small, it just put a little bit bigger of chip on my shoulder and made me want to prove everybody wrong even more.
You can see by just the architecture that this is like something out of a “Rocky” movie 20 years ago. You walked in, there was sludge running down the walls, there was garbage lining the sidewalks outside and things like that. This actually was a boxing gym during the week and a wrestling gym on the weekends. It was actually a boxing ring. The ring was so hard, it was like bullet proof. It wasn’t really a wrestling ring and two sides of it actually went against the wall. Sometimes you hit the ropes too hard you actually would hit a wall. I remember taking my first “bump” in wrestling (when you learn to fall backwards). The first time I did it, it just knocked the wind completely out me and it was – I was like “uh” and I couldn’t breathe. Tim was like “get up and do it again”. So I just had to keep repeating, repeating, repeating. I woke up the next morning and I had these bruises on my arm that went all the way around on both arms because you learn to break your fall. I immediately went out and bought a pair of elbow pads and if you’ve ever watched me wrestle, every match I ever wrestled in I wore elbow pads because it became a crutch for me after that. I couldn’t get my mind around going out and performing without elbow pads because of that day. That was my first day training.
I remember walking through the doors of the gym for the first day and hitting the ropes for the first time, actually getting in the ring for myself and training and hitting the mat.
“No matter how much it hurt, how much it knocked the wind out of me, it felt like home right away and it felt like it was the place where I was supposed to be and this was what I was meant to do and I was on my way.”