OSWEGO – Students at Oswego Middle School are frequently given encouragement about making good life choices, sustaining a positive attitude and the power of setting goals.
But, on Wednesday (Oct. 25), former wrestling champion Marc Mero gave the packed gymnasium a show they’re not likely to forget.
“It’s not about your circumstances or your situation – it’s about your response to it. How big will you dream? How high will you aim? How hard will you work?” said Mero, who, at 57, can still ignite a crowd with the passion and intensity he brought to sold-out arenas and stadiums during his 10-plus year run as a professional wrestler.
His opponents these days are most formidable than any he faced in the ring as Mero now takes on bullying, substance abuse, self-harm and depression among young adults in his nationwide “Champions of Choices” tour.
“When you’re in sports or entertainment, it’s hard to stop performing, and I’m blessed to still be able to entertain and inspire people – but no one’s hitting me with a chair now,” said Mero, whose good-natured humor and crowd rapport belie a deeply troubled past which he tries to use as an example for students.
Mero previously visited OMS in 2014 and Principal Mary Beth Fierro said his “powerful address had students talking for months.”
“We wanted to bring Mr. Mero back because he has a great connection and appeal with our students, a good message about choosing your life path, and working through the bumps you take along the way,” Fierro said.
In his wide-ranging address, Mero traces his life story from his childhood in Buffalo to graduating from Liverpool High School and early success as New York State champion boxer, followed by a meteoric rise in sports entertainment eventually earning a championship belt in the WWF, and subsequent struggles with drugs, alcohol and depression.
Mero implored students to hold themselves accountable by setting tangible goals, along with a strong message of practicing kindness to their peers and carefully choosing who they associate with.
“We become who we surround ourselves with,” Mero told students. “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
More information about Mero, his tour and organization can be found at www.thinkpoz.org.