Mick Foley — also known as Cactus Jack, Mankind, and Dude Love — was a prolific wrestler, commissioner of the WWE (from 2000-2001), and is now a formidable philanthropist (and die-hard Tori Amos fan). If you love Mick Foley, you know all this already. But do you know the most endearing aspects of the nicest man in wrestling's life? 2013's For All Mankind: The Life and Times of Mick Foley reveals some great little Foley facts you may not be aware of.
Though he pantomimed bloodlust in the ring, Foley has always been prone to maneuvering on his opponents through a even sillier method: the gross-out. Even as the goalie of his high school lacrosse team, Foley had a penchant for attention-seeking antics. His childhood friend Jim Gray says, "even back then he did a lot of strange things to capture everybody's attention, including, but not limited to, eating worms right off the field."
Later, during the off-season, Foley had to find something besides lacrosse to keep himself in shape, and so he joined the wrestling team. But he couldn't be the anchor heavyweight wrestler on the team, because his classmate Kevin James — of The King of Queens fame — had already secured that spot. When James landed a back injury, though, Foley swooped in, and the rest is history.
Early in that history, Foley wrestled with the World Class Champion Wrestling league, where he went by Cactus Jack Manson. Foley later shed the last name because the connection to Charles Manson and what he did to women made him uncomfortable. Maybe this is when his feelings for women's advocacy began to percolate.
Throughout high school, Foley was an avid story and song-writer. It's no surprise, therefore, that his first memoir, New York Times Best Seller Have A Nice Day!: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks had no co-writer. When his initial biographer had to be let go, Foley took the writing into his own hands and spent all of his free time writing the book by hand.
Foley is a wild card in and out of the ring. Fighting against violence while engaging in it for entertainment, committed to writing his own story while performing in a sport that is largely script-based — but that's what makes him so special. It's hard not to love a man who is so real off the clock — a truly kind man — when he's not Mankind.
Would you be able to write 700 pages by hand? Do you think we're missing other great backstories about other wrestlers because they have to maintain their character's public persona? Do you think Foley's charity helped people who would never have otherwise watched WWE get into the sport? Weigh in and profess your love Mick Foley in the comments.
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Claire Lobenfeld is a music and culture writer living in Brooklyn. She writes a weekly Nicki Minaj column for Myspace called The Minajerie and her work currently appears in SPIN, InStyle, Pitchfork and more.
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