A headlock for helping

Apr. 25—In the book of Genesis, Jacob wrestles an angel. The tale shows that Jacob developed humility because he wasn't strong enough to defeat the angel, but Jacob continued to struggle, showing God his persistence.

Like Jacob there is still a lot of wrestling going on today. The forms might be foreign to the Bible but the notion of being persistent to produce good remains.

Barry Baker runs Tri State Wrestling, a small market wrestling company with a big heart.

"I've got some guys that are wrestlers and we always get a door taker. Whatever we make at the door we donate to whatever charity we are doing the show for," he said. "I've got 25 or 30 guys from around the state, some out of Kentucky and one guy from as far away as Chicago and they won't take a dime. They won't take nothing."

While they may not take anything they give the audience what they want to see and that is action-packed, fast-moving entertainment.

"It's just like you see on TV. These guys work as hard as anybody else does. We just don't pay them as much. This is the best bunch of guys I've ever worked with. I've worked with a hundred guys down through the years and this is easily the best bunch ever," said Baker. "I know it sounds corny. I've been doing this since 1970 when I finished my training and got into it. They do it for the love of the business. That's what they tell me and I know that is how I feel. I love pro wrestling. I've done it for a long time and it is something you just can't walk away from. People think you can, but I should have retired 20 years ago but I didn't."

Baker is now in his 70s and well past his prime for ring time, but he still manages to stay active in the events.

"I am what you would call the heel-manager. I don't do much work in the ring anymore because I just got too old. I'm a bad-guy manager who always sticks his nose in where it don't belong," he said. "I refereed for a while, then I got into this managerial role and I kind of like it."

For Tri State Wrestling, the action is just part of the package. The other part is raising money for charity. The organization has been involved in raising money for families needing help in fighting cancer, putting together funding for gravestones for families that had a sudden death. They even did shows to help bring back the Indiana Theater after it closed.

"You know at the end of the evening, when the show is over and we give them the money, I have had people break down and cry, and a couple of times I almost did myself because they needed money," said Baker. "It's just a good feeling to do something for someone."

The biblical Jacob may not have preened like a peacock before his opponent, but the guys at Tri State Wrestling will continue to flex their goodwill this Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Vincennes Eagles where they will try to help out the Wheatland Wesleyan Church.

"We have a lady that helps me out. She works the door and takes the money, stuff like that," said Baker. "It's her church and they are going through a tough financial time now and she asked if we would help and I told her that's what we do."

Organizations looking to book an event with Tri State Wrestling can contact Barry Baker at 812-698-1764.