by Sarah Fenske
If a WWE wrestler gets in your face and tells you to stay in school, well, presumably, you stay in school.
And if the WWE wrestler who patented the terrifying "Gorilla Press Slam" gets in your face and tells you to stay in school, well -- you'd better hope you're capable of getting a Ph.D.
On Thursday, June 30, Gene Slay's Boys' Club of St. Louis will host former WWE wrestler/bodybuilder/"Mr. USA" Tony Atlas at its home in Soulard. Atlas is expected to cover the usual pro athlete topics (the importance of an education! the joy of exercise! the reasons to believe in God and family!) but we're told he's got a particularly impactful way of telling it. And if that's not enough to get the kids' attention, well -- did we mention he's the size of a house?
Atlas' visit comes courtesy of Ross McCutchen, a 27-year-old furniture salesman whose been watching pro wrestling as long as he can remember. After growing up a fan in southeast Missouri, McCutchen somehow tracked down his hero's home phone number and struck up a conversation. The two eventually became phone buddies -- and, an estimated 100 hours of phone chats later, one thing led to another and McCutchen invited to Atlas to speak to the boys' club. He agreed.
Larry Liszewski, director of marketing and community relations for the Boys' Club, tells Daily RFT that Atlas' visit was an easy sell. Even if the kids have never heard of Atlas' storied WWE career, their parents will certainly be impressed, he says.
"I can open the conversation saying, 'I know this guy -- he wrestled at the Chase. And back in the day, he was the Man.'" Liszewski continues his planned intro with a chuckle in his voice: "'The only thing was, he was afraid to wrestle me.'" The club currently has 520 members, so Liszewski is not worried about turnout. "There will be a full house," he promises.
As for McCutchen, he's thrilled. "I have talked to Tony for the last four years about doing something like this," he says. "He's just a very nice man." So long as you don't even think about dropping out of school, that is.
If adult fans are interested in a chance to join Atlas and some other fans for an intimate dinner, they're encouraged to check out this website; McCutchen's offering dinners July 1 and 2 for $25 a person as a way to defray the cost of Atlas' visit.