MOUNT HOPE – Eight years after moving away to pursue training as a professional wrestler, Mount Hope native Lance Chaffin is bringing his passion to his hometown.
Chaffin said he took a big interest in professional wrestling when he was in fourth grade. He would hate to guess how much his parents spent on action figures, replica championship belts and pay-per-views. Monday and Thursday evenings were reserved for watching World Wrestling Entertainment’s weekly shows, Raw and Smackdown.
“You couldn’t catch me away from the TV” those nights, he said.
After attending his first live show at the Kansas Coliseum in Valley Center, he was determined to get involved in the business somehow.
Chaffin said that at both eighth-grade and high school graduation, he declared his goal to be a professional wrestler — he said his mother recently unearthed the 2009 Haven High School graduation program that documents his aspiration — but people mostly laughed it off as implausible.
“Nobody thought it was a realistic deal,” he said.
Then, in September 2009, he learned that a professional wrestling school operated by Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and Brian Knobbs was having tryouts in Florida, and he made the trip with his father. Chaffin said he suspects his parents thought trying out and not being selected would help him get it out of his system.
Instead, Chaffin said, the trainer “looked over at my dad at one point in the tryout and said, ‘He’s in.’ “
The catch, though, was that he had to be in Florida, 1,500 miles from home, for training in two weeks. Chaffin said his mom didn’t like the idea, but his parents understood how much it meant to him and were supportive.
His primary teacher in Florida was Knobbs, who, as half of the Nasty Boys, won tag-team championships in the then-World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling in the…