The Cinderella Man
April 16, 2007 by Baraa Elhariry

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The subject of my column today is a wrestler who had to fight through adversity to get to where he was. His story is of a true Cinderella man and can move the coldest of hearts. Ladies and gentlemen, my topic of this column is the unforgettable Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.

Brutus Beefcake was born Edward Leslie on April 21, 1958 in San Francisco, California. Leslie emerged quickly in the many independent shows he did across the country. It was not long before he wound wind up in WWE where he would emerge as the remarkable Brutus Beefcake. According to the "Where Are They Now?" section of though, Leslie was less than enthusiastic to get behind the gimmick. "We were sitting in a meeting when somebody suggested I use the name 'Baron Beefcake,' wear a top hat, carry a cane, and have long tuxedo tails. My excitement quickly dissipated, and in my mind, it quickly became one of the worst days of my life. I kept asking myself, "What's a Beefcake?" In that boardroom meeting, Leslie found long time friend Hulk Hogan who would persuade him to take up the gimmick and assured him everything would be fine.

Hogan would be 100% correct as Brutus Beefcake became popular as he teamed with the great Greg "The Hammer" Valentine to form the hated Dream Team. This team was managed by the mastermind Johnny Valiant. Prior to this, Beefcake had participated in the first ever WrestleMania in Madison Square Garden in front of thousands of fans. The Dream Team rose to stardom and grabbed many victories including wins in the next two WrestleManias.

After Johnny V and Valentine dumped Brutus for Dino Bravo to form the Dream Team II, Brutus adopted a new gimmick and became known as Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. This character became one of the most hilarious in WWE history, for Beefcake would shave his opponent's heads with a big pair of scissors after he had won the match. Little did Leslie know, he was about to be involved in a life-changing moment. A normal day in 1990 quickly turned into chaos, as he was involved in a huge parasailing accident that almost cost him his life.

Leslie could not control himself when he described the surgery to "I wasn't supposed to live, it should've ended my life," said The Barber. "A team of doctors performed an operation that had never been done before on a living person, much less one that would later get up and walk away. I had gone blind because of damage to my optic nerve, and it took them seven hours to restore my eyesight alone." And after the surgery, Leslie laid in a hospital bed with eight titanium plates, 100 screws and a completely reformed skull...a medical miracle.

The man who perhaps was responsible for this fairytale turn around was none other than Hulk Hogan. Hulk got on a plane, and flew in to be there when I got out of surgery," recalled Beefcake. "He was there for me when I was down. He picked me up, convinced me I was going to live, and refused to let me give up hope. He took me to his home, fed me, took me to the gym everyday and stayed with me until I was back to 100 percent."

After months and months of rehab, Brutus "The Barber "Beefcake returned to the ring with a new license to kill and a new will to live. This dramatic story would reach its climax when Leslie would team up with his pal Hulk Hogan to take on Ted DiBiase and IRS (Money Inc.) at WrestleMania IX in Las Vegas. Although they lost the match by disqualification, Leslie admits it was the best moment of his entire life.

"I was told I would never walk again," said Beefcake. "But then, here I was again, with Hulk Hogan as part of the main event of WrestleMania. They said it couldn't be done, but God gave me the strength to keep going, and I did. I haven't stopped since." Leslie would jump over to WCW to feud with his pal Hulk Hogan and the nWo before retiring to his home in Boston, Massachusetts. He still wrestles today in various independent promotions. He spends time with his wife Barbie and his 10 year-old daughter Alana.

by Baraael Hariry (View/Submit your feedback here)..

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