Courtesy of Dundas Star News
Million Dollar Man learned priceless lessons
Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase climbed to the heights of the professional wrestling world in the 1980s and '90s. He now speaks to church groups and youth about his experiences.
By Abigail Cukier
During the 1980s wrestling boom, when everyone had Hulk-A-Mania and the World Wrestling Federation reigned supreme, Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Man was the baddest of the bad.
Many magazines have rated Mr. DiBiase as one of the top 100 wrestlers of the 20th century and the WWE ranked him in the top 50 of all time. Called one of the most technically gifted wrestlers, Mr. DiBiase is also featured in a recent video game and a top selling action figure on the market.
But from all of that fame and success, Mr. DiBiase learned a difficult truth.
"People think their money and cars and their homes will make them happy. I tell them the truth. In the midst of all that, I was the most miserable guy you've ever seen," Mr. DiBiase said.
He brought his story last month to Stoney Creek at the Victory International Church and also spoke in Toronto and Niagara Falls.
Mr. DiBiase founded Heart of David Ministries, through which he speaks out against drug and alcohol abuse ñ warning youth about the trap of addiction. He also encourages them to stay in school and set and work toward goals.
Mr. DiBiase also brings a strong message to men and struggling married couples, speaking to men's meetings and church congregations.
Mr. DiBiase has been involved in the world of professional wrestling his entire life. When he was 15, his stepfather, wrestler "Iron Mike" DiBiase died in the ring. Shortly after, his mother slipped into depression and turned to alcohol. Mr. DiBiase moved in with his grandparents.
After Mr. DiBiase's junior year in college, he stepped into the squared circle to follow in his father's footsteps.
Mr. DiBiase eventually moved to Atlanta where he met Melanie, who he married in 1981. Mr. DiBiase's wrestling engagements kept him away from her, while he said, ego, pride, and money took centre stage.
Soon the WWF developed Mr. DiBiase into the "Million Dollar Man" and he was surrounded by money, limousines and life in the fast lane. He quickly rose to the top of his profession.
Due to a neck injury, Mr. DiBiase was forced to give up wrestling in 1993.
"It was a time of searching. I had done it for nearly 20 years. I was really kind of like, 'what now?' I was about to turn 40. My doctor said I could have gone back but there would have been great risk," he said.
"At the same time, my wife confronted me about my infidelity. I needed time to earn my wife's respect and show I could be the man I was meant to be. This all happening at the same time made the decision to stop wrestling easier. But it was still traumatic."
Mr. DiBiase remained as a ringside manager in the WWF and WCW. He also appeared on television in "Monday Nitro" and "Thursday Thunder."
During that time, Mr. DiBiase started sharing his story in church congregations.
"I started to see the changes in people and got letters from people who heard me speak. That's when my heart changed," he said.
In 1999, he started speaking full time. He is very vocal about the the sex and vulgar language in today's professional wrestling.
"It is better today. Three to four years ago, it was so vulgar. They were programming to the lowest common denominator. They had to change because of the public outcry.
"But there other changes. There are no more key guys like Hulk Hogan or the Rock. The breeding ground is gone. The young guys used to learn from the older guys.
"The art of improv is also gone. Now they map out the whole fight.
"Before we only knew the end, the outcome we wanted."
Although he will always have a keen interest in the wrestling world, Mr. DiBiase strives to bring his story to the public.
"There is something people identify with. It helps when we can relate to someone else," Mr. DiBiase said. "Nothing gives me more joy than to hear the testimonies from people whose lives have changed."