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Long Island Sports

Wrestling With A Dream

TNA star Bully Ray

comes home to compete

Whether it was by throwing bodies around the ring or marrying the daughter of one of the most recognizable faces in the sport, Bully Ray has been in the spotlight of professional wrestling for the past 18 years. Now, the Queens native will be competing at the NYCB Westbury Theater on December 28 at the TNA Impact Wrestling World Tour.

Born Mark LoMonaco, Bully Ray was an accomplished discus thrower in high school. That, however, was always secondary for him; he knew that wrestling was his future.  The now 42-year-old wrestler claims he only had one goal in life, and that was to be a professional wrestler. Having fulfilled that dream has him “waking up every day and doing what I love to do.”

“Growing up in the Northeast, I watched WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and liked guys like Terry Funk and the Road Warriors,” he said.

Upon completing high school, LoManaco attended wrestling school in 1991, but felt that he really developed as a wrestler once he began training with Johnny Rodriguez. Rodriguez, known as “Johnny Rodz”, was one of the first uber-popular wrestlers of the World Wrestling Foundation (WWF).

LoMonaco broke into Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) in 1995 under the name “Buh Buh Ray Dudley”, as part of a faux family skit in which he played the role of the stuttering son. The shtick was wildly popular and put LoMonaco on the map.

Since that time, he has become more of a menacing character. He has changed his stage name on a number of occasions; first to Bubba Ray, then Brother Ray Deadly, and finally Bully Ray. During the past 18 years, he has become a household name within the wrestling industry. He was even given a chance to be a title holder in 2001 when he wrestled Kurt Angle, but was defeated. Many TNA fans are most familiar with LoManaco from his being part of the “Dudley Boyz” tag team that won a record eight titles.

When it comes to the downside of being a professional wrestler, Bully Ray notes there a couple of thorns in his side.

“The politics involved is the worst part,” he said. “Just like any other job,” he added. Additionally, there are the misconceptions involved in the sport. Most notably: performance-enhancing substances (PEDS). Athletes in all sports are forced to face questions whenever they perform superior to the competition. Hearing those rumblings does not please Bully Ray, who has dedicated himself to strengthening his body in recent years.

“It’s no secret that guys back in the day were using,” he said in regards to the pre-PED testing days. “Now there are regulations and policies in place by TNA that prevent it,” he added.

With that being the case, how can wrestlers achieve such a muscular body figure? That lies in the work ethic, according to Bully Ray.

“In the last couple of years I really reinvented myself,” he said. “I wasn’t always a gym rat. Now I’m in the gym five days a week,” he concluded. His workout included up to one hour of lifting plus one hour of cardio.

In regards to eliminating steroids from the sport, Bully Ray feels it’s not even necessary. “Testing shouldn’t be regulated, “he said. “It’s an entertainment sport and it should be up to the wrestlers.”

Many people share this sentiment considering the nature of the sport. Nevertheless, the rules are in place to create an even playing field.

Speaking of playing the field, Bully Ray is currently single. In January 2013, he married Brooke Hogan, the daughter of legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan on a nationally televised episode of Impact Wrestling. The father watched in shock during the event. Despite the drama surrounding the event, the marriage was authentic. It didn’t last long, however and she is already engaged to NFL player Phil Costa of the Dallas Cowboys, a fact that doesn’t phase Bully Ray, who claims to have a “lot of hot girlfriends.”

Bully Ray will be appearing as part of TNA Impact Wrestling on Saturday, Dec. 28 at @ NYCB Theatre @ Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.

For more information, please call 877-598-8497 or visit www.livenation.com