SALEMBURG — Jerry “Tha Chef” Carr flexed his muscles to booming cheers from the crowd in attendance, including young fans excited at the prospect of seeing a professional wrestling match in their own backyard.
About 100 people came out to the exhibition match at Lakewood High School on Saturday night to cheer on their favorite son from Sampson County. Carr, an American professional wrestler and the reigning Mach One Heavyweight Champion from Huntington Beach, Calif., faced off against Richie “American GI” Charles, who currently holds the heavyweight title in Charlotte.
The event was full of competitors trying to throw, force, or pin each other to the ground. For Tha Chef, the event was more about imparting the importance of working toward life goals and overcoming obstacles. The Sampson homecoming was also about family.
“It’s about family, which is why I came back to my roots of Sampson to give something back to the community,” said Carr, whose family members were there to support him.
Prior to the main event, five other matches took place. They included tag team and single matches, as well as an event with three wrestlers in the ring fighting each other. About 20 other semi-professional wrestlers made it their job to get the crowd’s attention and whip them into a frenzy.
The main event was the fight everyone had been waiting on and the two marquee participants didn’t disappoint. Tha Chef and the American GI went toe to toe with several takedowns, throws to the floor and body slams. But in the end, Tha Chef came up just short in the match.
Carr said after the fight he felt everyone got their money’s worth and felt entertained and happy. A cut of the proceeds will go to the Lakewood High School’s women’s basketball team. It was supposed to be at Union Elementary School, but had to be changed less than five days before the event, which Carr speculated may have led to a dip in attendance. Despite that, he said that in the end it is all about the kids and that is what counts.
“I love kids and want them to know they can work hard and set goals to achieve whatever they want to do,” Carr stated.
Melony Henderson can be reached at [email protected] or 910-376-2127.