The Daily Vidette Interviews The Convict

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Wrestling: more than just a fan, participant

Patrick Anders

Issue date: 1/24/07

"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, lets get ready to rumble!"

Ring announcer Michael Buffer coined the catchphrase which will forever be associated with professional wrestling, and during the 1990s, professional wrestling was very popular throughout many different age groups. There are two large affiliations you could follow, the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE) and the World Championship Wrestling.

"I was a fan of both wrestling organizations," communication professor John Hooker, a lecturer in the School of Communication, said. "It was great entertainment to watch every Monday night."

John Hooker grew up in Clinton, Ill. and received his B.A. in mass communication and master's degree in communication from ISU. He is currently teaching communication classes such as COM 110 and COM 218. He is also working on his Ph.D. at Purdue University in Lafayette.

Hooker was a big wrestling fan and watched wrestling programs weekly with his friends. His two favorite wrestlers were Goldberg and Chris Benoit. During his senior year at ISU, Hooker heard about a wrestling club that focused more on the entertainment side.

"I like the storyline and the character aspects of the business the most," Hooker explained.

At the time, the name of this wrestling club was called "The Federation of United Wrestlers," also known as the FUW. It was founded by Hooker's friend Glen Tucker, known in the wrestling world as Disco Stu. Many of the members of this federation were theatre and communication majors.

"Theatrics plays a very important part of the wrestling business and industry," Hooker said. "It is all acting for the most part, so like any other job you have to be good at what you do."

Hooker said he attended one of these wrestling shows and immediately wanted to be a part of the act.

"I remember the first show. It was in the basement of Watterson. The wrestling ring was made out of plywood, athletic mats, and a cable-like cord for the ropes. It was very creative."

Right after the first show, he joined the federation and adopted the stage name of "The Convict." Hooker and his friends all had their own wrestling moves.

The FUW met every Monday and came up with storylines and creative ideas for their matches and shows they would eventually perform. The federation consisted of roughly 25 members. There was a similar wrestling affiliate in Danville, IL that would always collaborate with the FUW.

"My first match ever was against the Unijobber," Hooker said. "In wrestling, when you are a new character, you need to first establish yourself and your first match is the best opportunity to do just that."

The FUW put on shows at ISU once a month or once every other month, usually on Saturday nights.

"It was awesome being in front of the fans that came out to see us," Hooker said.

"We used everything in the ring - tables, chairs, Nintendo game systems, even a mini-fridge door. The dialogue was one of the best parts because we got to argue back and forth with each other."

"My finishing move was the, "Jailhouse Rock" which is similar to The Rock's signature finishing move the "Rock Bottom."

Many of his colleagues were surprised to hear of his past as a wrestler.

"John is so professional, it is a surprise to me that he would be part of a theatrical wrestling club," Assistant Communication Professor Phil Chidester said when he learned about Hooker's wrestling history.

Assistant Communication Professor John McHale also had something to say about Hooker's past.

"Knowing him as a teacher and a very talented drummer in the band Rumpled Tweed, if he put in the same amount of intensity he does for his two current occupations, I could only imagine what kind of wrestler he was like," McHale said.

"He has achieved legend status in my mind, even though the myth of his wrestling past is still a mystery to some."

John "The Convict" Hooker held the heavyweight title for six months during his stint in the FUW. When asked if he would ever pursue a career as a professional wrestler, Hooker said he's not closing any doors right now.

"I haven't spent all this time and money in college just to try and become a professional wrestler, but I will leave my options open."

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