By Carlos Toro
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Superstar Darren Young is no stranger to entertaining people on the big stage, and he’ll do so when he visits Rider on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.
Young, who is the first openly gay active wrestler in WWE history, will be speaking to students about memorable matches and being a homosexual wrestler in the testosterone-driven business of professional wrestling.
“He fits an area that we wanted at Rider University,” said Evan Gurman, president of the Student Entertainment Council (SEC), which sponsors the event.
The talk will be held in the Cavalla Room in the Bart Luedeke Center and no ticket is required; students just need to bring their Rider ID to the event.
“He is the first active WWE pro wrestler to come out about being gay,” said Gurman. “It’s important that the SEC touch on everyone’s interests.”
Young admitted to being gay when a TMZ reporter at Los Angeles International airport approached him in August of last year.
“I’m a WWE superstar and to be honest with you, I’ll tell you right now, I’m gay,” said Young. “And I’m happy. I’m very happy.”
Young has participated in anti-bullying and anti-discrimination rallies as part of WWE’s Be a Star program to teach children how to create positive environments for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation.
Young’s story is one of triumph and inspiration. He became interested in a professional wrestling career as a teenager, wrestling in several backyard-wrestling federations. He played college football at Fairleigh Dickinson University, but quit so that he could focus on his dream of being a pro wrestler.
The dedicated athlete then spent several years honing his craft in small, independent wrestling companies and finally debuted in 2002. A year after his debut, Young would win his first major championship.
He then briefly wrestled for WWE in 2005 and 2006 before getting a formal developmental contract in 2009.
Assistant Director of Campus Life Nick Barbati, said that students can expect to hear a story of trials and triumph that they will no doubt be able to relate to.
“Mr. Young made national headlines for his bravery and is a trailblazer who has a story that our students and larger community could truly benefit from hearing by being the first active openly gay professional wrestler in sports history,” said Barbati.
Young is widely known as being a former member of the faction Nexus, which took WWE by storm when it debuted in 2010, and as one-half of the Prime Time Player’s tag team until the team split earlier this year.
He is currently recovering from an ACL injury he suffered back in April. He competed in WWE’s last two pay-per-views at the time before getting injured, including Wrestlemania 30, WWE’s biggest show of the year.
Attendees will be entered in a raffle to win a pair of tickets to see WWE’s flagship television program, Monday Night Raw, live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 6
“He is a true role model whose journey will hopefully remind our students to always stay true to themselves and do the right thing,” said Barbati. “Darren Young is a man that, like our student body, is pursuing his dream and chose to take control of his image and what he wanted to do with his success.”
Printed in the 10/1/14 edition.