Mark Roy and his son, Ashton, joke around that every now and then, they do have to wrestle each other in the ring.
“It is kind of funny, because he is a lot smaller than me,” Ashton said.
Ashton Roy, who is known in the wrestling business as Ashton Jacobs, is 17 years old. He is 5-foot-10 and weighs 205 pounds. His dad, known as “The Major” because of his previous rank in the U.S Marines Corps, is 5-9 and 185 pounds.
“I could not dream of being that big when I was 17 years old,” said Mark Roy, a lieutenant colonel in the Marines.
Both spend time training at XCW Wrestling Institute, a professional wrestling training facility that reopened in Denton in January. Owner Nite Davis played host to a variety of wrestling shows in Plano and owned a facility in Denton before closing it in 2009 due to the weak economy. But he has been around the wrestling world for about a decade.
“They are learning how to become better wrestlers,” Davis said about the services he provides. “They are all at different levels. Some of them will learn more than others, but we work with all of them.”
Davis, 34, has been in a wheelchair since age 13, and has never thought twice about not following what he loves.
In January, Davis opened a new 3,000-square-foot facility off Mingo Road. It offers its 15 members the opportunity to learn the wrestling business and also help them create their own professional wrestling experience. The facility offers clinics on Saturdays so that wrestling fans can learn techniques and more about the sport.
On June 22, his four-hour clinic featured Rodney “Rodney Mac” Begnaud, and his wife, Carlene “Jazz” Moore-Begnaud, who stopped by to offer training and insights from their 15-year professional wrestling careers.
“Of course the business of professional wrestling has evolved, just like any other sport. And in order to stay on top, you have to stay with it,” Begnaud said. “The good thing about running across older guys — the veterans — is that they teach you the foundation of the business, which will allow you to understand it more and allow you to grow.”
Begnaud met Davis about 10 years ago, and Begnaud said he respects and admired what he is doing at the XCW Institute.
“What he is trying to do is phenomenal,” he said. “[Davis] is not physically able to do what we do, but mentally, he can. He is mentally tough.”
While Davis trains other wrestlers in the craft of professional wrestling, his dad, Robert Davis (known as “Pops” at the institute), handles the everyday business operations.
“He does all the paperwork, so that I don’t have to,” Davis jokes.
Mark Roy began wrestling soon after finishing his seven-month deployment to Iraq in 2005. He said by the time he got back, his son showed so much interest in the sport that he began taking him to local shows. During one of the shows he met Pops, who asked him if his son was interested in training with another kid.
That kid did not make it through training, mostly because the training is so rigorous.
“You are going to do six to eight weeks; you are going to get tortured physically,” Roy explained. “They [the trainers] want to make sure that when you are in that ring, you are going to be safe. They want to see that you have enough guts to get through this, and do things right.”
Roy said training involves a lot of squats, running, drills, jumps and mostly calisthenics — and it’s challenging.
“It was as tough [as], if not a lot tougher in most cases than Marine Corps boot camp, physically,” he said.
Moore-Begnaud said one of the things that upsets her about what people know about wrestling is that they still call it a fake sport.
“When a person picks you up and body-slams you, you can’t act that. You can’t yell cut in the middle of that,” she said.
She also said that contrary to popular opinion, there is no padding underneath the floor of the ring; if people get slammed; they will feel the pain from their neck to their toes.
“But you build from it, and your body gets used to it,” she said.
Moore-Begnaud began wrestling when she was 23, and now, at 39, regards wrestling as more than a sport.
“You have to have passion for it,” she said. “It is a craft. You have to study the craft and become great at it.”
Moore-Begnaud and her husband have 3-year old twins, and for them to help at events gets difficult at times, but it is a career they chose, she said.
“When I met my husband — we were training together back in 1996 — we both had the same goals and dreams,” Moore-Begnaud said.
Now they own their own wrestling facility, Dogg Pound Wrestling in Lafayette, La. They have traveled to different places around the world such as Japan and Mexico, learning others’ wrestling techniques and demonstrating theirs.
“Our craft is a sacrifice, but it is the way we make a living,” Moore-Begnaud said.
Mark Roy, who makes a living as a pharmaceutical sales representative, said his entire family has adjusted to his son’s schedule. Ashton, who is a junior in high school, is in the ring at least five times per week. He is home-schooled by his mother, so that he can attend his training and participate in the clinics when needed.
“It is an independent thing and is a whole different world. You would not even know about it unless you are in wrestling, like we are,” Roy said, adding his wife is supportive of the work they do.
Ashton said his dream is to become a professional wrestler.
“Wrestling is a dangerous sport; no choreography is involved. It is all instinct,” he said.
Roy said the wrestling lifestyle is not for everyone, but it is right for his family.
“Some people have high school football or baseball or basketball, and we have professional wrestling,” he said. “It is a crazy lifestyle, but we do it.”
Karina Ramírez can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her e-mail address is email@example.com.
XCW WRESTLING INSTITUTE