by: Bob Magee

In an age where the real lives of the wrestlers we see on TV, PPV, or at house shows become public property; where their egos, addictions, personal habits... and the results, become front page news....Do you think wrestlers, or more importantly, the real life people behind the wrestlers can't be heroes?

Then read the story from the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, NH. Read about Mick Foley and what he did for a three year old child.

What I read in the Bill Murphy's article, entitled "Wrestler inspires recovery", in the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune didn't really surprise me. Mick has his own children, Dewey and Noelle. But this goes well beyond just the actions of a parent. I've seen Mick Foley do it for years with Jon Owen, a young man who's a friend of mine, mentioned in "Have a Nice Day"; and with countless others.

I've seen Mick Foley be a real-life hero. Read on...

"Like any 3-year-old boy with an ounce of sense, Antonio Freitas of Lawrence knew exactly what to do with the mask he was told to wear. Yank it off and toss it aside when it became annoying. Ditch it when the enforcer, his mom, wasn't around.

The thing was, the mask was supposed to hold in heat and help heal severe burns he suffered when he spilled a crockpot of boiling oil over his head, face, back and arms.

But his mother and her boyfriend came up with a solution. They convinced him to wear the mask more often by pointing out that his hero, the wildly popular professional wrestler Mankind, was a fellow mask-wearer.

The connection between the two has grown far stronger than the simple fact that they both wear masks. When Mankind found out about the Lawrence boy, he made an effort to meet with him and treated him as a VIP at a wrestling event at the Fleet Center in Boston last night.

Seeds of the visit were sowed last month when Chris L.P. Guilmette, boyfriend of Antonio's mother, took Antonio to Somerville to get Mankind's autograph. But a long line probably would have kept Antonio from seeing his hero. Told of the boy's injuries, Mankind -- also known as Mick Foley -- told the boy and Mr. Guilmette to come behind the line. He plopped Antonio onto his lap and talked to him. Next time he performed in the area, he told Antonio, he could come as his guest.

Mankind, one of the top three stars in the stable of World Wrestling Federation combatants, called this week, telling Antonio and his mother, Rhonda Gaudreau, he wanted them to be guests at the show in Worcester that night or in Boston last night. Mr. Foley left tickets and backstage passes for Antonio and his family, and the meeting of the boy and giant took place last night.

Antonio was 2 when he pulled over a crockpot, full of oil for cooking french fries, onto his head while in his grandmother's pantry in Methuen May 27, 1998. He nearly didn't make it. His heart and breathing stopped a few days later at Shriner's Hospital in Boston, but he was revived.

He was burned on his face, back and arms. But the burns on his head were the worst. The burns were so severe hair cannot grow in several patches. He may have hair transplant surgery. If it is done at all, surgery on his face and areas other than his scalp will be done in two or three years, Mr. Guilmette said.

Antonio balked at wearing the mask. 'He'd always freak out,' said Mr. Guilmette. Mr. Guilmette and Ms. Gaudreau would try to cajole the boy into wearing the mask by talking about Mankind.

'Seeing him in the mask made Antonio feel better,' Mr. Guilmette said. 'He said, "If Mankind wears a mask, maybe I should." '

Mr. Foley downplayed his willingness to give the boy a thrill. 'Every once in a while you can do something for someone,' he said. 'And it's really not costing me much. If I can help this guy in any way, it's very flattering. It made me feel good.'"

Mick Foley's career is winding down, as most readers know. Mick said as much on the "On the Record" show on Canada's TSN with Bruce Landesberg. The only thing unsure are the circumstances and the date.

Because of the uncertainty regarding Steve Austin's future, Vince McMahon is reluctant to do a "retirement tour" for Mick Foley, feeling that it will affect stock prices for the company. WWF stocks be damned. If Vince McMahon won't do it, let's do it ourselves for Vince McMahon.... and more importantly, for Mick Foley.

It's now time for Mick Foley's fans to give back to him after years of entertaining fans all over the pay him back for sacrificing his body for years in match after match in indies, ECW, Japan, and the WWF.

Do it for the matches with the late Eddie Gilbert that made Philadelphia a hotbed of hardcore wrestling in the United States...for the matches with Vader....for the single most horrifying bump I've ever seen at Hell in a Cell II...for the death matches in Japan where Mick Foley went through physical hell for payoffs not much better than those for a two-bit indy show.

This AS I SEE IT column is read on websites and newsletters in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. I'd like to suggest something to all of you readers wherever you are. If you attend a WWF event live anywhere and Mick Foley MIGHT even be performing; bring a sign or banner. It can say whatever you want...something as simple as "Thank You, Mick"...or whatever you're moved to do. Make it as large as you can and make it seen.

And when you hear his entrance music with the car crash sound....




Not just polite applause like you're at a golf tournament or a tennis match...but do your part in making a crowd pop so loud and long you'll be hoarse the next morning at work or school.

In other words, don't be nice and reserved like a typical smart mark.

Instead, mark out like the three year old kid you read about earlier did when he saw his hero, Mick Foley. Because Mick Foley deserves it more than any other performer alive today not named Funk. Not just for what he does in the ring, but perhaps even more for what he's done outside of it.

Here's hoping that fans in some city create a moment where Vince McMahon's production staff has to essentially stop the show and feature a 5 minute ovation on a Monday Night Raw or Smackdown one night. Wouldn't that be a moment?

Under different circumstances, we all saw such a moment when Owen Hart was honored on a Monday Night RAW for the father, the husband and the human being some got to know, as well as the remarkable in-ring talent we all knew.

A thousand of us saw such a moment in August 1995 when Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero worked their last night with ECW at the ECW Arena. It was a night of genuine emotion, with Dean, Eddie, and many in the packed house in tears, saying goodbye to the world-class workers, and the world-class people that Dean and Eddie are.

Let's give Mick that kind of heartfelt tribute.

Create such a moment the next time you attend a WWF show. If you can't go to a WWF show, tell your friends to do it for you. Hell, tell your friends about this idea, anyway. Get them to do it together with you.

Let that night, whenever and wherever it happens, be a memorable moment for Mick and for us all.

Until next time....

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