Kickin’ It With Zach Gowen – Handicapped Heroes
As I sit here trying to put together a travel plan for Gregory Iron and I for this weekend’s Heroes and Legends event in Indiana (www.heroesandlegendswrestling.com), I thought it would be a neat opportunity to talk about what our partnership means. What it means to me, what it means to fans across country, and maybe what it means to Greg.
Please allow me to set the table for the uninitiated: my name is Zach Gowen and I lost my leg to cancer at 8 and at 19 I became one of the youngest WWE Superstars ever. Gregory Iron was born with cerebral palsy which severely affects the right side of his body. His right hand is practically useless. When Greg was 16, he saw me on WWE television and my story inspired him to get off his butt, stop feeling sorry for himself, and to live out his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Pretty epic to think about but I think there’s a lesson to be learned here: We all affect each other. If we share time and space on this earth, I think our presence, action, or inactions can have huge impacts on lives even without our knowledge. So let’s help each other out whenever we can, not just when it’s convenient. Life is hard. It’s hard for you, it’s hard for me, it’s hard for everyone. Our time is limited, let’s build up rather than tear down.
Moving along, I first met Greg right after he trained to be a wrestler on a Cleveland All-Pro show in 2007. I had no knowledge of how impactful my story was on Greg. I was dealing with substance abuse issues as well. I’m a recovering addict/alcoholic and this would have been right about where my using started to get pretty dark and heavy. So I didn’t mean to be rude or to blow Greg off. I was too caught up in my own garbage to really have a grasp on reality. And the reality was 4 years after I inspired a kid to live his dream, I may have just taken a huge crap on that same dream by being a jerk. Luckily for all of us, Greg is more resilient than me. And that little incident with me wasn’t going to stop him from continuing on the path to greatness.
Fast forward to 2011 and promoter and color commentator extraordinaire Joe Dombrowski thinks that a Zach Gowen/Gregory Iron match and feud will draw for his PRIME Wrestling outfit. I tell him he’s stupid and hang up the phone. First of all, how am I going to be a convincing bad guy and second of all, what kind of match can we have? I mean, I have 1 leg and Greg essentially has 1 arm. But like any good promoter, Dombrowski talks me into it. Greg and I would have to team for a few shows to get to where we needed to get to for the story to develop. It was then that I saw how incredibly talented and gifted he was as a wrestler and performer. Then we started gelling as a team. Slowly we became friends. When I first heard his story on a podcast about how much I meant to him as a kid, I cried. Then I called him up and apologized for being a jerk. Right then and there, a lightbulb went off in both of our heads. What if we started teaming up everywhere….there’s a powerful story here that I think needs to be shared. And The Handicapped Heroes were born.
(oh and that one on one match we had was awesome and remains one of my favorites of all time)
So we’ve been teaming for a few years now and I think we’re getting better with time. I feel our actual in-ring stuff can be put up against any tag team in the world. But I think what separates us is our ability to connect with an audience on a much deeper level than any other wrestlers. Greg and I have overcome so much in our lives and we truly have an appreciation of living out our dreams as wrestlers. I think that shines through… I know I have more fun when I’m in the ring with Greg as opposed to being by myself. And that’s the thing: what he can’t do physically because of his hand, I can usually do. What I can’t do due to my missing limb, he makes more than makes up for it. Together we are stronger than we are apart.
It’s funny how life works. My partnership with Greg came at a time in my career that I needed it the most. He re-ignited that flame inside of me for wrestling and opened my mind to all sorts of possibilities. We’re involved in anti-bullying organizations, writing books, and doing motivational speaking. Working with these kids brings me more joy than I ever thought would be possible. Who knows, maybe our sharing of time and space with these kids will have a huge impact on them without our knowledge! I have Greg to thank for all of that!
Greg means the world to me and I’m a card carrying Handicapped Heroes member 4-LIFE!
Thank you for reading and I hope ya’ll come out when we come to a town near you!!! Feel free to post your thoughts, opinions, feedback and comments below.