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Release date: Jan. 4, 2006
Professional Wrestler to Speak at Wayland Chapel

PLAINVIEW – Professional wrestler Greg “The Hammer” Valentine will speak at the 11 a.m. chapel service at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview on Jan. 11, returning at 7 p.m. that evening for a youth rally in Harral Auditorium.

              A seasoned wrestler who debuted professionally in 1968, Valentine carried on the wrestling tradition of his father, Johnny Valentine. Greg has made a career in wrestling, starting with the National Wrestling Alliance’s Mid-Atlantic territory in the 1970s, where he often tag-teamed with “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The pair claimed the World Tag Team championship in 1978. Valentine later joined the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) and played a major role in pro wrestling’s revival in the 1980s. He and partner Ed Leslie “Brutus Beefcake” claimed tag team championships in that arena in 1985.

              Valentine enjoyed a lengthy reign in the mid-1980s as Intercontinental Champion, defending that title at the first WrestleMania event. He later wrestled with the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling and held the U.S. Tag Team championships with Terry Taylor. His signature move, the figure four leglock, is legendary among longtime wrestling fans, and he was inducted in 2004 to the WWE Hall of Fame.

              Since becoming a Christian, Valentine appears with the Power Wrestling Alliance operated by “The Million-Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase. Through PWA crusades, Valentine and other fellow Christian wrestlers -- including “Sting” Steve Borden, Nikita Koloff, “Animal” of the Road Warriors, Buff Bagwell and others -- tell their testimony of faith and redemption through wrestling exhibitions.

              According to Micheal Summers, director of church services at Wayland, bringing Valentine to Wayland was a way to bring variety to the chapel programs and respond to student interests. Though he was aware of wrestlers who had given their lives to Christ, Summers said it was students who brought the PWA to his attention and asked about the possibility of a visit to campus.

              “In the late 1990s, a wrestler called ‘Sting’ had given his life to Jesus Christ and began sharing his testimony with other wrestlers and at youth events,” Summers said. “Since that time, several other wrestlers have also been saved and some have formed a Christian federation to share their message.”

               Valentine’s schedule was able to accommodate a Wayland chapel and a youth rally, so Summers booked him, knowing the event would be appealing.

              “This came from student requests, so we knew they’d enjoy it. It’s definitely unique,” he said. “Considering the popularity of wrestling these days, we knew it would appeal to the region at large.”         

              Both the chapel and the youth rally are free and open to the public. Churches are especially encouraged to bring their youth or students to the rally.