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Wrestler Dusty Rhodes made a big impact in Richmond

Posted at 12:49 AM, Jun 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-12 15:02:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- On the day we learned of the  passing of famed pro-wrestler Dusty Rhodes, we visited with two Richmond-area people whose lives were powerfully touched by the man famed for his "bionic elbow," gift of jabby gab and common-man touch.

"The American Dream," as he called himself, will linger here in a town that hosted national matches monthly - and sometimes more often - during the sport's pre-TV and pay-per-view era.

"He was just a regular old fat guy who got out there and just, open up that can and start going," said Chad Painter, owner of the wild Wonderland bar in Shockoe Bottom and one of the Richmond Lucha wrestling crew.


Rhodes showed him, he said, that a "fat kid" could have an American dream.

And over in King William County, wrestling referee legend "Baby Earl" Hebner will never forget the way Dusty Rhodes took him under his wing and launched his career.

"God bless him," he said. "I would've never, ever, been where I am today without him.

He's the one who gave me the biggest break in my life and God, I'm going to miss him."

Check out their quite different stories about a most unusual human in our video report.