From Left Field: Render unto Caesar

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By Jimmie Earls

By Jimmie Earls

Sun Sports Writer

Until I recently graduated from college and got my job in journalism, I was a pro musician of more than 20 years. In 1989, my best friend Scott Carr's band was the house band at a small bar in Ironton, Ohio called The Park, and I was helping them out.

When winter rolled around and business slowed down, the club decided to bring in Caesar the Wrestling Bear. Caesar was a "Hollywood" bear who wrestled in his spare time. If you've ever seen the movie "The Great Outdoors" with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, he’s in it - in the scene where the two bears are attacking the car, Caesar is the one on top of the car.

Anyway, the club asked Scott if he could supply a sound system for the wrestling bear's announcer. So we loaded a couple speakers, a power amp and a small mixer into my car and went over.

We stayed around and watched a few people get tossed around the mat that covered the dance floor. People paid $10 a head to get the living daylights beat out of them. But if you pinned him for a three count, you'd get $1,000.

During a break, Scott and I went outside and talked to the trainer. He gave us a copy of the waiver that every contestant must sign and then he said he would let us wrestle for free since we were letting him use our sound equipment.

Scott was eager for me to do it, especially since I was a pretty big guy. He said as my “manager” he would get fifty percent of the prize if I pinned Caesar. I told him I would do it only if he did it also.

Now Scott weighed around 100 pounds soaking wet, so I knew he stood no chance and would probably say no. He agreed, thinking that I would do it and then he would chicken out. But as fate would have it, the contestants go in order of weight - lightest to heaviest. Scott would be first ,then another guy, and then me.

We were instructed that we get three minutes to pin Caesar, but the first 30 seconds are the "get acquainted" period where he gets to know you and you get used to him. Scott was told to get in the center of the mat as the trainer got on the PA.

Everyone cheered as Caesar was paraded through the side door of the club, and once he saw Scott on the mat, there was no 30-second "how do you do" time. He bolted right for my best friend.

For the next three minutes, Scott was tossed around that mat like a rag doll. I wanted to help him, but come on - that's a @$&#%*! bear out there! After what seemed like an hour, the announcer blew the whistle and Caesar let his new toy up off the mat.

While the next guy was sent to the slaughter, Scott came over and I immediately noticed the smell of bear all over him. I don't know why, but bears have a smell all their own - trust me on this one!

Before I knew it, it was my turn. I watched the previous guy go outside, and from what I heard later, he was puking after his match. Some folks just weren't cut out for bear wrasslin'.

Of course by the time I got on the mat, Caesar was all warmed up, in top form and had his adrenaline pumping.

I tried to get a grip on his shoulders and get some leverage but I couldn't, so we "waltzed" a little bit around the mat.

I was finally able to get him down and we both fell flat on the mat as I tried to get on top of him to go for the pin.

With about 30 seconds left, I had his shoulders pinned to the mat. Time was running out, could I pull it off?

After two seconds, my round tummy rolled off of his round tummy and I slid off to the side of him. Seconds later, the whistle blew and my brief wrestling career was over.

Looking back, I feel I'm now ready for a rematch. I'm older and hopefully a little wiser. I've been training really hard, studying films, and I feel I know his weak points.

Sure Caesar has aged as well, or perhaps he's passed on by now. But that may be the only way I can get him pinned to the mat for that elusive three count.

Ew, that smell!