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Wrestling without words

Wrestling without words

Photo By Louis Long

Actions speak louder than words, especially in the world of the Silent Warrior

Professional wrestling has always been more spectacle than sport; a flash bang of colors, characters and cheddar cheesy theme music that turns men into marvels.
 
Now cut the sound.
 
Either you’re looking at a bunch of men lubed up like a Slip ‘N Slide yelling hot fuzz into a microphone, marching to the ring like a one-man parade and throwing fists at their equally over-the-top opponents, or you’re seeing the sport in its purest, street- grade form; eyes glued to the screen as you watch two technicians pour their creativity and athleticism into their movesets.
 
For Louis Long, it’s always been the latter.
 
Born and raised in the city of our Bills, Louis was like any other young fan lured in by the action and theatrics associated with professional wrestling, but with one catch. Those ridiculous, yet unforgettable entrance songs? Those timelessly insane rants by Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Ric Flair and Roddy Piper? Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan?
 
He’s never heard them.
 
Born deaf, what he saw was competition, larger than life prizefighters all chasing gold. Pro wrestling told a bright and captivating story without words. A wrestler’s aura and actions spoke volumes and like that, Louis found his voice.
 
“Really, I grew up enjoying wrestling. I took up backyard wrestling when I was a kid and different things,” said Long. “I had goals of becoming a wrestler and a teacher. I took wrestling in high school. I was co-captain of varsity soccer, basketball, and track and field. I just love being active, showing people what my abilities are and that I have no limits.”
 
Moving from the mattress to the mat, Long started honing in on his skills at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf and later made the decision to take on some legitimate training with both Empire State Wrestling (locally) and the Dynasty Wrestling Organization in Rhode Island.

Not surprisingly, some things were easier to pick up than others.
 
“As far as me being deaf and some of the movements, it blocks my view. I can lip read, but when I’m in those moves it’s kind of hard to teach people because when people are speaking I can’t see what they’re saying,” Long said. “And when I’m in a hold, how do I know when to be ready because somebody is behind me or holding me on the floor, so that part was a little difficult. But as far as following the rules, I have no problem.”
 
Interestingly enough, his difficulties in that department ended up being the building blocks of his technique.
 
“There’s a lot of outside noise and distractions. I take advantage of that,” Long said. “I’m not distracted by all that noise. I know that my competitor, my opponent is hearing and they get distracted by looking at things when they hear a sudden noise. I certainly can feel the vibration, but I’m not distracted by any of the crowd noise or anybody booing me or anything like that. I can’t hear a thing. So, I can ignore that and go on.”
 
Wrestling under the name The Silent Warrior, Louis has blossomed into a character much bigger than the timid boy he used to be. Like lucha libre lore, he owes a lot to his mask, his second skin that he, interestingly enough, got from one of his childhood (and local) heroes.
 
“Growing up I loved Dick Beyer; The Destroyer. I looked up to him and I thought that mask was cool. I was very shy and that mask made me feel pretty confident,” Long said. “I felt like people couldn’t hurt me with that. I mean, it was me growing up. I just felt more confident with that, so that’s why I’ve always used that one. The Destroyer gave it to me.”
 
But as the song goes, don’t tug on Superman’s Dick “The Destroyer” mask.
 
“I hate when people pull on that mask when we’re actually wrestling [sigh]. When they try to pull it off, that really irritates the heck out of me,” Long said.
 
More than a just man chasing his dream, Long has become a benefactor to the deaf wrestling community, creating the Deaf Wrestling Alliance in 2010 and working daily to expand its outreach.
 
“It’s fairly new. We have a vice president, a president and a secretary. There are deaf events and expos that can get people, deaf people from all around the world and U.S. and you can train people in that type of thing,” Long said. “Deaf people are fascinated by this. They want to get involved. It’s an organization that’s for deaf people. They fly to different events and publicize about that.”
 
Long has two major events on the horizon, one of which being the Mata Expo in Ontario, California on November 11th and 12th. Taking place at the Ontario Convention Center, the expo is both deaf and hearing friendly and provides a welcome stage for companies and individuals to offer their products for the deaf and hearing impaired and provide two days of entertainment and support. Wrestling on the 12th, Long will be doing both.
 
A week later he’ll be sky bound for the fifth annual Deaf Mania in Tokyo, Japan on November 26, 2011. More than just another match, his maiden voyage to the land of the rising sun is sure to provide just as many memories as it will obstacles.
 
“I’m gonna stay for a week. Japan’s wrestling, pfew, I feel is gonna be quite a challenge,” Long said. “I’ve never gone to another country for a wrestling match. Japan, I’m really interested in figuring out their language, meeting people there, and figuring out how that is going to work out, what the psychology is there and the society.”
 
This is an interesting time for Long. A proud employee of Delaware North Companies for the last five years and a man following his boyish intrigue, he’s but a few months away from seeing new worlds, gaining new exposure and most importantly, touching new lives.
 
One can’t help but root for The Silent Warrior and hope that his dream of taking the world of deaf wrestling to new heights and even opening up a revered wrestling school for the deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology comes true.
 
And really, who’s to doubt him?
 
“I’m ready to roll my sleeves up and show the world what deaf people can do in regards to the sport of wrestling. If people think that I can’t do something, I oppose that. I can,” he said.

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