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The Journal Gazette

  • Henry

Sunday, April 15, 2018 1:00 am

WWE's strong man giving back to FWCS

Hall of Famer to donate sales to backpack effort

Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette

If you go

What: Heroes And Legends X fan fest and professional wrestling show

When: Saturday, fan fest runs noon to 6 p.m. with show starting at 7 p.m.

Where: Memorial Coliseum Expo Center

Cost: $15-55, tickets available through Ticketmaster or Coliseum Ticket Office. VIP packages available at www.heroesandlegendswrestling.com

Attendees: WWE Hall Of Famers Mark Henry, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Tito Santana, Koko B. Ware, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine; ex- WWE superstars Tatanka, Slick, James Ellsworth, One Man Gang, Marty Jannetty, Terri Runnels, Veda Scott; Impact! Wrestling's Kongo Kong, Sami Callahan, Dave Crist, Jake Crist, Jimmy Jacobs

Mark Henry's strength remains unquestioned. The Texas native, considered the world's strongest man at the height of his powerlifting career, parlayed that success into a lengthy run with World Wrestling Entertainment that culminated with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame last week.

His inner strength? He cultivated that from his childhood, when classmates teased him mercilessly due to his stature. Already 5 feet, 5 inches tall and 225 pounds in fourth grade, he recounted many insults hurled his way.

“I was Magilla Gorilla, Fat Albert,” Henry said. “The only time I could see myself handling the situation was by pummeling the kids. I acted out and got in a lot of trouble, but luckily enough for me, my mom and grandma were solid human beings and they put me around people that got me involved in sports.”

Henry's anti-bullying stance made him the perfect fit for Brian Scott, a member of the Fort Wayne Community Schools PTA, the group sponsoring Henry's upcoming appearance at Heroes & Legends X, a pro wrestling show and fan fest, set for Saturday at the Memorial Coliseum. The fan fest runs from noon to 6 p.m., with bell time set for 7 p.m.

Henry, the most recent WWE Hall of Fame inductee of the six scheduled to attend, will donate proceeds from his autograph, photo and T-shirt sales at the event to the PTA's “Blessings In A Backpack” program.

“We are hoping that the word will get out to the kids,” Scott said. “The way I tell everybody, we are the voices for the little people. We are trying to let our little people know that we are in the schools for them, that the PTA is there for them.”

Scott, who has attended several Heroes & Legends events, developed the idea of bringing Henry to the upcoming fan fest alongside Heroes & Legends owner and Fort Wayne resident Jayson Maples.

The duo originally connected after Portage Middle School brought Maples to the school to deliver an anti-bullying speech. Scott, a pro wrestling fan, heard about the speech from his son, who attended Portage at the time.

Maples has since served as principal for a day at Portage on two occasions, helping him realize the impact of his initial message.

“I loved doing the anti-bullying speeches and had a lot of kids come up that were really amazed,” Maples said. “I gave them my background. I was teased and bullied while I was in school. I was always kind of a big dude, and I got bullied, so it was cool that some of the kids said it meant something.”

With an HBO series titled “Random Acts Of Flyness” set to air in June, voice work for the animated shows “Pickle and Peanut” and “Amphibia” and a weekly appearance on Busted Open on SiriusXM currently on his plate, Henry plans to use the Heroes & Legends fan fest as a launching pad for his next life mission – helping those that help others.

“I want to get the communities involved, all of the organizations that cater to having people be helped, and help pull people in,” Henry said. “I want (people) to enjoy the festivities around a traditional wrestling show, but I want to bring attention to their organizations and they can use my name to do it.”