(Republished from AustinKellerman.com. Originally published December 23, 3017)
I have a confession. I’m a grown man who likes professional wrestling. Most people I meet can’t seem to understand it. Isn’t that something you outgrow? Don’t you know it’s fake?
I’ve struggled over the years to give a good answer: “I just like it, okay?”
On Friday night, I saw the viral video of a high school basketball player in Maryland giving a classmate a wrestling title belt for Christmas. The young man named Shanquis immediately lights up and performs his favorite wrestling poses alongside his much taller friend and Secret Santa C.J. Thompson.
As of Saturday morning, the video had been viewed more than 2,000,000 times. It’s been retweeted by Roman Reigns, Sasha Banks, Titus O’Neal and other top wrestling stars.
Why did this video go viral in a matter of hours? It’s not just about the heartwarming gesture; it’s proof wrestling brings us together. In most worlds, C.J. and Shanquis wouldn’t be friends. However, they’re united through sports entertainment. Their backgrounds don’t matter. Their athletic prowess doesn’t matter. Their popularity in school doesn’t matter…
When it comes to wrestling, they have a connection.
They both watch wrestling and escape from reality. They both gaze and and get lost in the theatrics. They cheer and boo together. As fans of wrestling, they’re equals.
Over the years, I’ve met dozens (if not hundreds) of wrestling fans that I probably wouldn’t have matched up with otherwise. We talked. We swapped stories. We traded ideas. We connected.
The connection between C.J. and Shanquis is infectious. The world could use a little more of this generosity.
Last night, I wrote C.J. and asked him if I could share some of the backstory for the video. How did they connect? What are their backgrounds? How long have they been friends?
“I will definitely talk to his (Shanquis) parents about this tomorrow and get back to you tomorrow,” C.J. wrote back.
Another good move. Well done, young man. And thanks for reminding us why we love wrestling.
UPDATE: Since this story was written, things have gone pretty well for Shanquis and C.J.