7 p.m. wrestling event will help raise funds for Fort Madison baseball team
BY ETHAN LILLARD
FORT MADISON- Many current adults grew up watching wrestling and still follow it to this day. And why not? From snakes and guys riding out on Harley’s, all the way to dudes walking through a mist of fire sparks and jumping through tables, wrestling has always been a form of entertainment that finds a way to relate to its audience.
Central Empire Wrestling out of Wellman, Iowa picked the perfect way to relate to the Fort Madison audience it will perform for this Saturday at Buffalo 61.
Holy Trinity alumn Noah Cutler, or Ricky Love as he’s better known on the mat, will be the featured wrestler in the main event Saturday. Along with Love, the event will feature former University of Iowa Hawkeye football player Steve Manders, world renound wrestler Rory Fox, the ‘World’s Strongest Little Man’ Chad Strong and many others.
“I think we provide a family-friendly atmosphere,” Central Empire Wrestling promoter and owner Austin Bayliss said. “There will be something for everyone. We do a really good job of interacting with our fans, interacting with the people who book us and the communities.”
The whole idea for the event stemmed from Fort Madison baseball Head Coach Ron Walker attending a CEW event last fall. During the event, he met with Bayliss and got to talking about their shared love of baseball and wrestling. The next thing you know, Walker was calling Bayliss trying to coordinate CEW and the baseball team for a fundraising event.
Walker then met with long-time friend, fellow wrestling enthusiast and Buffalo 61 owner Chase Gibb. With Buffalo 61 in Fort Madison, the parking lot space to put on an event of this size and Gibb wanting to give back while also providing a form of entertainment even he himself enjoys, it only made sense for Walker and Gibb to tag team for a fundraiser.
“Rumor has it Coach Walker or Chase Gibb might be getting fitted for some tights, but we don’t now that for sure,” Walker said with a grin on his face. “You don’t wanna miss what’s going to happen.”
“Since I turned 40 I’ve noticed that certain parts of my body are starting to ache that haven’t ached before,” Gibb said about whether he would climb into the ring Saturday. “But, that being said, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Along with Walker and/or Gibb, the winner of ticket sales among the baseball team may also have a role in the events that unfold.
“Some of the baseball players will be involved,” Bayliss said. “I don’t know the exact dynamic of that yet, but my understanding is they have been selling tickets and some of them will be rewarded with an opportunity in conjunction in the event.”
While not every baseball player will be a part of the script for the show, every player that is a part of Fort Madison baseball from 7-U and beyond is invited to attend the event and can get in for free for wearing a team jersey.
“They are all future Bloodhounds,” Walker said. “We look to build our program from top to bottom throughout the community.”
With everything that has been going on around Fort Madison High School, Walker sees this as the perfect chance for the community to come together for a day of fun, relaxation and a chance to bond off the field.
“We’ve had a lot of things going on here in the community and in the school district the last three to four weeks,” Walker said. “I think this is going to be a great event to bring everyone together … let’s get away from situations on the baseball field and kick back and enjoy a few laughs.”
All the proceeds raised from ticket sales will go directly to the Fort Madison baseball team. Walker said he hopes to use the money for a new outdoor hitting cage and/or a new scoreboard.
The event will be held in the Southeast corner of the parking lot at Buffalo 61 in Fort Madison starting at 7:00P.M. Food will be served per normal with an open menu. Admission is $10. There will be nine VIP tables and then standing room only or attendees are invited to bring a lawn chair. The event is set to have five matches with Six Strings Down performing live music entertainment immediately after.
While there will be plenty going on to draw fans’ interest and attention, event promoter and CEW owner Austin Bayliss goes back to the star attraction being the hometown kid, Ricky Love.
“In my opinion, he is what brings this whole event home,” Bayliss said. “He’s from Fort Madison, played on the baseball team and wrestles, tying everything together. He’s the perfect fit for the main event and a good overall human being too.”
“It will be pretty exciting,” Cutler said about coming home to wrestle in Fort Madison for the first time in his career. “I haven’t been through town in at least five years. It will be nice to get back and see some familiar faces hopefully and take a look at all the historic places I got to see growing up.”