Stonewall was an independent wrestler I first met at POWW. The former college football player (at Illinois and Georgetwon) was young, big and strong. He was quiet outside the ring and devastating inside it.
One of my former interview partners used to have a running gag that Stonewall was undefeated with his win total climbing every time. Of course, that was wrestling hyperbole at its best, but Stonewall had a bright future.
Unfortunately, Stonewall got injured. My memory fails, but I thought it was shoulder problems. He rehabbed, but never really made it back.
Of course, life also intervened. He married and had a family. Life goes on and it seemed to be going on well for Stonewall.
I am sure thousands of young men have similar stories to Stonewall. Are the stories sad or hopeful? I suppose that depends on your perspective.
Life as an independent wrestler is rough. The pay is minimal (often barely covering gas money, if that). The ring is a thin layer of padding over wood planks. Wrestlers work through most injuries, chasing their dream of going to the WWE. Unfortunately, the odds of making it to the WWE are beyond miniscule.
The movie "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke nailed it, but his character was once a big time wrestler. Most indy wrestlers will never reach that level even.
I haven't seen Stonewall in a long time. I hear he's doing well and I'm happy for him. He was a great guy. Sometimes the bad break turns into a lucky break.
Stonewall and me in Chicago, IL-Summer 2014.