GREY EAGLE, Dec 28, 2009 (St. Cloud Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Paul Ellering has been all over the world. He's probably seen everything twice.
That's what happens when you're involved in the professional wrestling business.
Ellering was involved in the sport during its big burst of popularity in the early 1980s through the late 1990s. He got out of the game in 1998 after years of managing the Road Warriors, aka the Legion of Doom. The tag team of Hawk and Animal were first in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) and eventually moved on to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Ellering, a 1971 Melrose High grad, just isn't known for his time in pro wrestling, however. He also became a sled dog racer and has participated in the Iditarod many times.
While he's asked about both, wrestling may be the hotter topic. Ellering, 56, and his family operate The Historic Rock Tavern on Big Birch Lake in Grey Eagle. The family lives above the establishment. Ellering and his wife, Joan, have two daughters and a son.
But if somebody asks Ellering about his days with the Road Warriors, he's not one to shy away from talking about it.
"I still go out and do autograph signings," Ellering said. "I went to St. Louis in May and just got back a couple months ago from New York, Newark and Charlotte. A vendor usually brings in 25 guys and people can get pictures with you and autographs. The vendor pays you a flat fee. It's nice to go to those and see the old guys who were around when I was.
"Hardly a week goes by that people don't ask me about it. That's fine. It's better to be asked than not asked."
Ellering does miss some things about the professional wrestling lifestyle. For one, he always had a tremendous amount of down time.
During that down time, he usually liked to read as much as possible.
"I love to read any kind of book," Ellering said. "I don't have that luxury anymore. My time is all chewed up. I always had down time in the cab, at the hotel or on the plane. I miss the locker room banter with the guys too. That was always fun. I don't miss the traveling or the grind of it."
Ellering is grateful to have been apart of the AWA and the WWF just when cable TV was beginning to sweep the country. He knows that's why he and the Road Warriors had so much success.
"It was a tremendous time to be in the sport," he said. "In the early '80s, we were right on the cusp of history as cable was spreading across the country. Before that we wrestled in little territories and moved on. Cable completely changed the demographics of the sport. That was an exciting time and I didn't live in one place. You could fly everywhere and live where you wanted.
"Wrestling was a passport to everywhere. You name it, and I've probably been to that country. I've been to every state and city in the country it seems like. That was part of it -- it was a lot of fun."
Ellering knew he always wanted to come back to Central Minnesota when his wrestling days were behind him. He loved the area growing up and knew what kind of education his children could get in Melrose.
"When you see other places and how they do things and compare it, it's really hard to beat this area," Ellering said. "The schools are good and the people care about each other. The crime is low. It's a great place to raise a family. That's why I came back. I always loved this area."
The tradition of wrestling in the Ellering family may not be done. Ellering's son, Saul, 15, is a freshman on the Melrose varsity team. However, Saul is recovering from a knee injury that he suffered while motorcrossing.
With Saul being so young, he really doesn't know how popular his dad was in the wrestling world. It's hard for his daughters -- Rebecca and Rachael -- to remember as well.
"They were young and I traveled a lot," Ellering said. "Becca was 10 when I retired. At that time I didn't let them watch TV. I thought some of the stuff they put on those shows in the later years was almost rated R. It was just time for me to get out. After all, how long can you do it?"
Just long enough.
This is the opinion of Times sports writer Andy Rennecke. Contact him at 255-8735 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at sctimes.com/andy.
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