It's been a really bad week for family-values conservatives.
Two key political figures, Nev. Sen. Tom Ensign and S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, publicly admitted to extramarital affairs.
And now former pro wrestling star and civic leader B. Brian Blair finds himself on the wrong side of the headlines.
Blair, one half of the popular Killer Bees tag team during the mid-'80s World Wrestling Federation boom, spent Father's Day in jail after being arrested for allegedly assaulting his two teenage sons early that morning.
The 52-year-old Blair, a self-proclaimed conservative, family-values Republican who recently served as commissioner of Florida's Hillsborough County, called the family fight and his arrest "an unfortunate situation" and "a misunderstanding that could have been prevented."
Blair, who was taken to the hospital before being booked, was charged with felony child abuse for allegedly punching his two sons, ages 17 and 13, in their Forest Hills, Fla., home. He was released on his own recognizance Monday morning.
"I have over 7,000 hours mentoring children, and the last thing I'd ever do is hurt a kid," Blair said. "Sometimes the hardest kids to mentor are your own."
Sources have since hinted that a number of underlying problems may have led to the incident.
According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, there had been family tensions at the Blair home for some time. Less than a month earlier, deputies had been called to the house by Blair's wife, Toni, reporting that their 17-year-old son, Brett, had run away for the sixth time.
Former pro wrestler Mike Graham, whose late father, Eddie, helped Blair get his start in the wrestling business, told the MyFox affiliate in Tampa that Blair had confided to him about problems with his oldest son.
"He runs away from home, he doesn't go to school," Graham told Fox 13 News. "And every time his father says you can't do this, you can't do that, Brett says, 'What are you going to do, Dad? If you touch me, I'll have you arrested.'"
Graham said he believes his friend was provoked into defending himself and his wife.
"I knew something had to give, the boy pushing the buttons, pushing the buttons, pushing the buttons, pushing the issues, insulting his mom, insulting his dad, doing anything he wanted to and really rubbing everything in their face," Graham said.
The report said officers responded to Blair's home at 4 a.m. Sunday, after Blair allegedly punched his 17-year-old son in the face and put him in a chokehold.
According to the Tribune, Brett Blair told authorities the altercation started when he returned home from playing basketball. Another source, however, claimed the teens loudly came into the home at 4 a.m. Sunday, along with two friends, and Blair came out to talk to them.
Brett Blair, according to a spokesperson, said his dad had been drinking and shoved him in the chest. When the youth tried to walk away, the 6-0, 235-pound Blair grabbed him, punched him in the face and put him in a chokehold, according to the report. He then allegedly let go of Brett, grabbed younger son Bradley by the throat and left a mark by punching him in the head.
One of two other boys at the home during the incident called 911, and Blair was taken to the Hillsborough County jail, charged with two felony counts of child abuse.
The Blair boys weren't seriously injured and showed minor bruises and marks, authorities said.
Ed Barbara's version of events took a slightly different slant.
"Brian did what any good parent, what any good dad, would do: try to squelch this from becoming something bigger," Barbara, a longtime friend and former business associate of Blair, told the Tribune. Barbara said Blair told him that he was blind-sided and doesn't know who hit or kicked him, but he received bruises to his ribs as he was being stomped.
Barbara, who told the Tribune that Blair was more a victim than a criminal, said his friend has had issues with his oldest son in recent months.
"There have been issues and challenges going on at home, like in many homes," Barbara said. "I've seen Brian in tears with his face in his hands, concerned about his son's attitude, choice of friends and health choices ... These are good kids at heart, but they are making some wrong choices, in my opinion especially with disrespect and their choices of friends."
"There was total disrespect and anger that came from his sons and their friends and things started getting out of control," Barbara said Blair told him.
The family situation remains under investigation while prosecutors decide whether or not to pursue the child abuse charges.
"He can't see his kids. He can't speak to his sons. He can't take them on a vacation he had planned for next week," Barbara said. "Physically, he's hurting. He was beat up in the press. He was accused of a terrible crime when he is the victim."
Blair, a longtime Tampa resident, was a four-sport letterman in high school and attended the University of Louisville on a football scholarship. He began his pro wrestling career in 1977 under the tutelage of Eddie Graham and Hiro Matsuda.
Blair was briefly married in the early '80s to former WWE ring announcer Michelle "Mike" McGuirk. McGuirk was the daughter of longtime Tulsa-based promoter Leroy McGuirk.
Blair, who once owned several Gold's Gym fitness centers in the Tampa area, has been a community leader involved with a number of educational and athletic programs for area youth. Elected to the Hillsborough County Commission in 2004, he lost his bid for re-election last November when he was beaten by Kevin Beckner in a heated contest.
Blair filed a lawsuit in March claiming Beckner had falsely accused him of "self-dealing, taking action to harm women and children, and supporting racism." Beckner responded in April with his own filing seeking to get the case tossed out of court.
Blair's lawsuit claims Beckner made false allegations about his record in campaign mailers and ads that exposed the incumbent to "hatred, contempt and ridicule." Beckner's attorneys have argued that his tactics were nothing more than typical campaigning.
"If Brian Blair's looking for someone to sue, he should sue himself," Beckner said. "He defamed his own character and integrity when he consistently voted for special interests and self interests instead of the interests of the people of Hillsborough County."
"The people knew what he stood for as an elected official and they rejected him, and now he's being a crybaby," Beckner attorney Barry Cohen told the St. Petersburg Times earlier this year. "When he was a wrestler, I heard he was a crybaby when he lost. And he's still a crybaby."
Beckner's attorneys also have pointed to incidents in Blair's past as well as critical press coverage during his time in office in an attempt to discount Blair's claim that damage was done to "his good name and reputation."
The allegations go as far back as 1984 when Blair was accused by a girlfriend of punching her and pulling out her hair. Blair denied the accusation and was never arrested or charged.
More recently the Florida Elections Commission found probable cause that Blair violated campaign finance law last fall when he allegedly twice accepted more than the $500 state limit from individual donors during his primary bid. Blair later said that it was an honest mistake that wasn't caught by campaign management software or his treasurer, and the excess money was returned to the donors.
In 2007 Blair settled a negligence lawsuit against Carrabba's Italian Grill six years after a restaurant accident that he blamed for ending his professional wrestling career.
Carrabba's attorney had maintained that the former wrestler was impaired at the time he tripped over a tray of bussed dishes at the restaurant, injuring his head, shoulder and knee, and presented evidence that Blair had wrestled in Japan four months after the accident.
- Billy "Red" Lyons, a main-event star during the '60s and '70s who later worked as an assistant in WWE's Toronto office, passed away Monday following a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 77.
Lyons, who also worked as an interviewer for WWE live events in Canada during the '80s and early '90s, was one of many standout wrestlers who came out of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. John Tolos, another Hamilton native and wrestling great, died last month at the age of 78.
Born William Snip, Lyons was a top star in a number of territories during an in-ring career that spanned from 1954-84. He enjoyed great success in the Midwest-based AWA where he was billed as the British Empire Champion. He also was extremely popular in Oklahoma, Texas and Toronto's Maple Leaf Wrestling promotion.
Lyons, nicknamed for his vibrant red hair, is probably best remembered for his popular tag team with Red Bastien as The Flying Redheads. He also held titles with Dick Beyer (The Destroyer), who was his real-life brother-in-law, Fritz Von Erich, Cowboy Bill Watts, Tom Jones and Dewey Robertson.
Lyons retired from the ring in 1984 and joined the offices of longtime promoters Frank and Jack Tunney where he edited footage and hyped upcoming live events.
As an interviewer promoting WWE events throughout Canada from the mid-'80s through the early '90s, Lyons was fondly remembered for the phrase "Don'tcha dare miss it," a signature ending to his promos.
- WWE Hall of Famer Gerald Brisco is scheduled to undergo surgery this week for a faulty heart valve and a small hole in his heart.
"Jerry seems to have made a positive turn from the effects of his multiple strokes," Jim Ross posted in his blog, referring to the three strokes Brisco recently suffered.
- The combination of Donald Trump's appearance, a commercial free show and a Randy Orton vs. Triple H match propelled Raw to one of its highest ratings in some time. Last week's show posted a whopping 4.5.
WWE claimed the show was seen by more viewers than any other programming on network TV from ABC, NBC, Fox or CW. Total viewership averaged 7.3 million in the second hour.
Future storylines between Trump and Vince McMahon are being discussed.
- Former WWE diva Torrie Wilson, following the Stacy Keibler path to mainstream celebrity status, finished as runner-up to actor Lou Diamond Phillips on Wednesday night's final episode of the Survivor-like "I'm a Celebrity : Get Me Out of Here" reality show on NBC.
Wilson, who endured three weeks in the Costa Rican jungles, told E! Online that the experience inspired her.
"While I was in the jungle trying to figure many different ways to get my workout in, I decided I'm going to do a workout video. That is on the immediate horizon."
- UFC star and former WWE champ Brock Lesnar said in a recent interview with Maxim magazine that he credits God - not steroids - for his massive physique.
"I bet you I've taken over 60 steroid tests. In college, I had 15 random drug tests in two years. I've taken drug tests for the NFL, the WWE the UFC. I must be pretty good at masking steroids. God gave me this body: Are you jealous of it or what? Give me a break. I got the genetics of - not to get into racism or anything - but I'm built like a black man. Would you say so?"
- Paul "The Butcher" Vachon, 71, is back home convalescing in Vermont following recent reconstructive jaw surgery in Canada.
The operation follows radiation treatments he had a few years ago for throat cancer. Vachon, brother of Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon and father of Luna Vachon, had half of his colon removed in 1993 after being diagnosed with colon cancer.
- Last Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of the single greatest tragedy in pro wrestling history -the deaths of Chris, Nancy and Daniel Benoit.
- Lifelong fan Shane Clark of Moncks Corner finally got his chance to meet Ric Flair during the Nature Boy's special appearance Thursday evening at the Summerville Wal-Mart. Clark reports the meeting was everything he had hoped for. And then some.
Clark, one of several hundred fans on hand, even got the chance to do his best Flair impersonation that had the 16-time world champ grinning from ear to ear. Flair signed Clark's DVD and took a couple of photos with him.
The best, however, was yet to come.
"When I went to shake his hand, I accidentally knocked over his Diet Coke," says Clark, one of the Lowcounty's finest musicians who just happens to be blind. "I don't think there was much Diet Coke left, but he jumped up pretty fast."
Before Clark had a chance to apologize, Flair put his fears to rest, telling his fan that he was very honored to have met him, and giving Clark a hug on the way out.
Just goes to show that things do go better with Coke.
- George's Sports Bar, 1300 Savannah Highway, will air WWE's The Bash pay-per-view at 8 p.m. today. Cover charge is $5.
Mike Mooneyham can be reached by phone at (843) 937-5517 or by e-mail at email@example.com. For wrestling updates during the week, call The Post and Courier Info Line at 937-6000, ext. 3090.
Brian Blair is a former Hillsborough (Fla.) County Commissioner.×
Brian Blair (left) teamed with Jim Brunzell as The Killer Bees in the World Wrestling fedearion during the mid-'80s.×
Venerable Canadian wrestling star Billy Red Lyons passed away June 22 at the age of 77.×
Bill Red Lyons was a headliner in a number of territories during the '60s and '70s.×
Torie Wilson fell just short on "I'm A Celebrity : Get Me Out of Here."×
Local musician and former American Idol contestant Shane Clark got the chance to meet 16-time world champion Ric Flair up close and personal.×
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.