Categories
Flex

Brock and roll: he grew up on a farm, baling hay and reading FLEX, but now WWE superstar Brock Lesnar inflicts pain on other humans for a living. He’s OK with that – Profile – Interview – Cover Story

Brock and roll: he grew up on a farm, baling hay and reading FLEX, but now WWE superstar Brock Lesnar inflicts pain on other humans for a living. He’s OK with that – Profile – Interview – Cover Story – Biography

Jim Schmaltz

If Brock Lesnar isn’t your worst nightmare, it’s only because he hasn’t gotten around to you yet.

The current undisputed World Wrestling Entertainment world champ, Lesnar’s world of pain is not a happy place. Body silhouettes of his battered foes are imprinted in wrestling mats around the country like chalk outlines at murder scenes. Men the size of Escalades have been tossed in the air by Lesnar like Raggedy Ann dolls. Whether his mood is his “heel” or “face,” this Smackdown stud always leaves his opponents with more than their feelings hurt.

“I’m just a farm boy,” 26-year-old Lesnar will tell you, but one look at him implies more than milking Bessie built this superstructure of destruction. A native of rural Webster, South Dakota, the 6’4″ 295-pound superstar wrestler looks more like the product of Sauron, the dark lord of Middle-earth from The Lord of the Rings trilogy who created fearsome warriors from the molten primordial soup of hellish Mordor.

There’s nothing fictional about Lesnar. He’s the real thing, the horror from the heartland, a farm boy grown barnyard big. A self-made homegrown hero who combines a stern midwestern work ethic and hardheaded discipline with a macabre sense of fun–if fun is slamming grown men headfirst into the earth.

As one of the WWE’s marquee maulers, Lesnar fills a ring with a power physique of bone-crushing force and surprising agility. His soccer-ball shoulders hang heavy and wide, their expanse portending doom like a circling vulture’s wingspan. Fused to his shoulders are rising towering traps with the impregnable hardness of a military fortress, bulging with purpose–that purpose being to support a massive cinderblock head decorated with werewolf ears, sinister cold eyes and a taunting sneer. Grim tattoos of morbid ghouls glare from his pale skin, as if mocking the carnage he leaves behind.

This dude ain’t Barney. “I’m pretty rough around the edges,” Lesnar understates during a photo shoot with FLEX magazine. “I guess you could say I’m a hard-nosed motherf–ker.”

And the tattoos? “I like dead things,” he quips.

He’s kidding. That’s the hope, anyway.

One of the few WWE stars to “rassle” under his own name, Lesnar is no theatrical concoction from the excesses of Vince McMahon’s fertile imagination. Big Brock has a long history of inflicting real pain on real people. A former dominating Big Ten heavyweight wrestling champion from the University of Minnesota, Lesnar is a skilled craftsman at the art of forcing other men to eat the ground they walk on. He’ll apply that knockabout know-how with unbridled force at the historic Wrestle Mania XX, the 20th anniversary of WrestleMania, on March 14. You do not want to be on his “to do” list that night.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you entered the ring with Lesnar and he didn’t like the cut of your jib. There are many options at his disposal to express his displeasure with you. He may simply slap you, open palmed, on your soon-to-be-bruised face. Or perhaps he’ll grasp your shoulders in his giant paws and fling you to the mat. But if he’s really unimpressed with you, what he’s most likely to do is deliver his patented move, the F-5. This is where he grabs your overmatched body, flings you onto his shoulders in a fireman’s carry, spins your legs over the top of his head, then falls backward, slamming you headfirst into the ground, planting your face into the mat like a celery stalk in sour cream dip. No use whining. Your muffled cries will only encourage him.

Ask the scowling monstrosity known as Big Show. The beneficiary of an overactive pituitary gland, Big Show is 7’2″ and crushes the scales at 500 pounds, and he’s as mean as he is big. One evening, this fleshy freak was the victim of an F-5 by Lesnar. That’s right: Lesnar hoisted the 500-pound overgrown gargoyle on his shoulders and slammed him into that long good night.

“Big Show wasn’t sure I could do it, and I wasn’t sure I could do it,” admits Lesnar. “But I did it.” Then he did it again and again. Which is amazing enough until you consider this: Lesnar accomplished this Herculean heave-ho with a broken rib.

“I had a rib broken in two places,” he offers. “I had it for nine months. It hurt like hell, but I was just getting started in my career and didn’t want an injury to take me out, so I worked through it. I guess I’m just a tough sumbitch.”

Sure, he suffers pain, but he’d much prefer to administer it. He’s just that kind of guy.

GETTING THE BUG FROM FLEX

A few minutes in the company of Lesnar quickly reveals that this hulking product of rural America has as much personality as he has muscle. After only a few exchanges with FLEX photography icon Chris Lund, Lesnar quickly begins applying some of Lund’s infectious British colloquialisms, using the term “wanker” liberally as he poses for photos.

Unfailingly professional, Lesnar’s surface “yes, sir” politeness barely restrains the warrior’s lethal instincts betrayed by his million-mile stare that seems to be begging for permission to tear someone’s head off. It’s no surprise that he attacks the weights with martial ferocity.

“I performed a lot of hard manual labor on the farm,” he says. “My desire for lifting started when I was very young, but I didn’t have a lot of outside inspiration for lifting as a kid.”

Then one day when he was nine years old, he found it.

“They used to carry FLEX magazine in the library in middle school,” he remembers. “I saw the guys on the magazine and wanted to look like them, so I began stealing FLEX from the library.”

Now there’s a youthful indiscretion we can approve of.

“I started amateur wrestling as a really young kid, so I started working out,” he says. “I didn’t know a lot about training with weights, so I started reading and applying what I learned. I wanted to be a bodybuilder.”

Desire was the easy part. Living on a dairy farm in the desolate flatlands of South Dakota, Lesnar had to create his own set of weights. With help from his father, the young grappler made a gym on the farm, utilizing every type of material that was handy.

“I made weights out of rocks, 55-gallon drums, whatever,” Lesnar recalls. “I made my own pullup bar and weight bench. Before that, I did a lot of my bench pressing by getting under the bar on the floor.”

Further fueling the bodybuilding fire for Lesnar was the seminal documentary of the sport, Pumping Iron. Says Lesnar, “Lou Ferrigno was my favorite until I saw Pumping Iron in July 1986. Then Arnold [Schwarzenegger] became my favorite. He made Lou look like a wanker.”

Lesnar has nurtured a lifelong devotion to the sport. He still follows it, remarking that he admires Ronnie Coleman in particular. It’s difficult for Lesnar to find time to train, considering the nearly nonstop touring schedule of the WWE (230 fight nights a year!), but he heaves the iron whenever he gets a chance. He ain’t getting any smaller.

With his sardonic wit and natural charisma, Lesnar’s affinity with Schwarzenegger makes perfect sense. In his years as an NCAA wrestling champ, Lesnar developed a reputation for putting yappers in their place. “I’ve always just said my piece,” he says. “I was never a big trash talker in college, but if somebody was a bit cocky, I let them know it. Some guys are more show than go.”

Lesnar’s all go. As his star continues to rise in the WWE, this former farm boy is the next likely crossover star since the Rock began lighting up action films a couple of years ago. WWE fans have gotten only a taste of Lesnar at full throttle. “My personality is starting to come through a little bit more,” he explains. “There’s a very sarcastic, dry, bitter a–hole in me. A wanker. I’m a straight shooter. But I do have a sense of humor. I enjoy comic relief.”

Presence, talent, natural comedic instincts. Sounds like a natural cinematic successor to the Rock and his bodybuilding hero, Schwarzenegger. Can he go from brute to box office? “I don’t know if I could do it,” Lesnar replies. “Maybe. We’ll see what happens. I never say never. I never thought I’d be doing this wrestling business. I never thought I’d be doing a photo shoot for FLEX magazine either. I knew that if I worked hard something would eventually pay off.”

Don’t count anything out for this budding superstar. This Brock is on a roll.

RELATED ARTICLE: WRESTLEMANIA XX: THE WAR TO END ALL WARS

Reading about Brock Lesnar is one thing; actually witnessing his spectacular skill at rassling mayhem is quite another. Lesnar will be in the center of the action at WrestleMania XX, the 20th anniversary of wrestling’s biggest event on March 14 at Madison Square Garden, the site of the first-ever WrestleMania two decades ago. It’s the Super Bowl of pro wrestling, the WWE’s biggest night ever, and Lesnar is looking forward to putting the hurt on somebody, anybody, maybe everybody.

“I feel honored to be part of the 20th anniversary of WrestleMania,” Lesnar gushes. “It’s the best of the best. I can’t wait.”

At press time, Lesnar didn’t know who his unlucky opponent would be, but that didn’t seem to bother him. “Somebody’s going down,” he vows. “And it won’t be me.”

For more on WrestleMania XX, including details on the pay-per-view broadcast, visit www.wrestlemania.com or contact your local cable provider.

RELATED ARTICLE: LESNAR’S LESSONS

Before Brock Lesnar slung 500-pound wrestlers over his shoulders, he used to carry calves and bales of hay on his family’s dairy farm in Webster, South Dakota. To Lesnar, that experience helped form him and the work ethic that he’s ridden to success.

“I don’t bitch. That’s the way I was brought up,” Lesnar maintains. “I learned important lessons on the farm. I couldn’t do anything until my work was done.”

One of those lessons has to do with not taking the easy way out.

“Shortcuts are for pussies,” barks Lesnar. “I wasn’t one of those kids who took shortcuts. If I had to run five miles, I ran five miles. I didn’t run four miles. The payoff to that is being successful. People who take shortcuts might be successful, but not as successful as they could be.”

And that goes for bodybuilding. “There’s a system to weightlifting, but it’s not rocket science,” he says. “You’ve just got to go in there and do it. There are a lot of lazy people in this world. I’ve figured that out.”

Still, boys will be boys, and young Lesnar needed a little adult persuasion along the way to mold his character. The man who makes a good living regularly adjusting the attitudes of his ring rivals explains that, at one time, the attitude that needed adjusting the most was his own–something he discovered during a short stint with the National Guard.

“Joining the National Guard changed my life,” he proclaims. “I was 17 years old, a typical teenager. I didn’t listen to many people. I was Mr. Know-It-All. I didn’t respect myself or authority. Then I entered the Guard. Those f-kers straightened my ass out right away.”

Wouldn’t you like to meet the National Guard officer who taught Brock Lesnar manners? Take our advice.

Apply “Lesnar’s Lessons” yourself before someone else has to drill them into you.

BY JIM SCHMALTZ SENIOR EDITOR

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS LUND

COPYRIGHT 2004 Weider Publications

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group