By Kelly Westhoff
Lenny Lane is a man of
vision. He is also a man of action.
For example, at the ripe
old age of eight he decided on his career, then set about making
that dream come true. “I wanted to be a pro wrestler,”
he says. “I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but
all the wrestlers were big guys, muscular, so I knew I needed to
be strong.” Once in his teens, he played football and basketball
and lifted weights, and by 24 he competed in his first match. Before
climbing into the ring, his trainer, Eddie Sharkey, (who also trained
Jesse Ventura) gave him this advice: Jump off the top rope as high
as you can.
“It worked out,”
Lane says with a shrug and a smile. “I won.”
What was it about professional
wrestling that called to him? Thinking back on his Duluth childhood,
Lane, now a Mound resident, says, “My dad used to take me
to matches, and we’d [also] watch it on TV. I liked how the
wrestlers made me feel,” he says. “They could make me
hate them, love them, feel sorry for them, feel excited for them.
I loved the puppetry of the people. Pro-wrestlers are puppeteers.”
By default then, Lane is
a puppeteer. Even though he’s wrestled under several names
(anyone remember the West Hollywood Blondes?), he gained pro-wrestling
fame as part of a tag team called “Lenny and Lodi” in
the late 1990s. Dressed for a show, Lane sported long blond pigtails,
tight (and tiny) pink shorts and a lollipop.
In this role Lane won the World Championship Wrestlings’ World
Cruiserweight Championship in 1999. It was a controversial act,
however, and was discontinued after four months in response to protests.
Lane continued wrestling
the circuit as a different character, but says “we were only
around four months, but we did close to a hundred matches in that
Nearly a hundred matches
in four months? That’s a hectic—not to mention physically
demanding—schedule. Lane acknowledges the grueling pace, but
he’s quick to point out the positives, too. “I’ve
been to Japan, Australia, England, all 50 states. If it wasn’t
for wrestling, I wouldn’t have been to half those places.
Wrestling allowed me to go, as I’ve said in promos, to places
you’ve only seen in magazines. It made me look at the whole
world differently,” he says.
No matter how passionate
professional athletes are about their sport, the physicality of
their careers eventually takes its toll. Lane, now 39, is grateful
he never sustained serious injuries in his pro wrestling career.
While he’s left the exhausting professional circuit behind,
he still headlines an occasional independent show. He knows, however,
that sooner or later he’ll have to throw in the towel altogether.
“When I don’t look good in tights,” he says, “that’s
when I’ll know I maybe ought to hang them up.”
Lane has gotten creative
as he plans for that day, finding ways to use his wrestling skills
in new ways. He has opened a dojo (a martial arts studio) in Golden
Valley and started throwing birthday parties for kids. His wrestling
parties are popular with 7- to 12-year-old boys, although some all-girl
parties have been big successes. Lane teaches the kids some basic
wrestling moves, including learning how to bounce off the ropes,
puts them in a real-life wrestling ring, and lets them act out a
wrestling sketch, encouraging them to play to the audience. But
it’s always play; he makes sure no one gets overenthusiastic
and hurts anyone. And he doesn't set up scenarios that create a
winner and a loser. He spends time with the kids addressing their
goals and talking about the importance of nutrition, exercise, school
and “how to stack the odds in your favor,” he says.
Lane also trains up-and-coming
wrestlers at his studio and works with clients as a physical trainer.
To better serve all his trainees, Lane recently earned a life coaching
certificate and became a certified instructor of Commando Krav Maga,
which he explains as “self defense with a workout spin.”
Lane takes great pride
in his training business, investing hours with each of his clients,
drawing on skills he learned in the wrestling world. No matter whom
he’s working with—kids, wrestling protégés,
or physical training clients—he always stresses the importance
of discipline and drive. “Passion,” he says, “is
essential. No matter what you’re working for, if you’re
passionate about it, you can make it happen.”
To learn more about Lenny Lane, his wrestling
birthday parties and his personal training business, visit wrestlingparties.com