A Newspaper Article About The Empire Wrestling Federation

The Press-Enterprise Riverside, CA

Monday, September 1, 1997

New era dawns for inland wrestling. Fans welcome back professional wrestling at the San Bernardino Sports Arena where past greats have appeared.

Ryan Slattery
The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino

As The Hawk lay motionless on the wrestling mat, The Coroner slowly lifted The Hawk's body, placing him into the black canvas bag, zipping it to cover the victim as the crowd watched.

Professional wrestling has returned to the San Bernardino Sports Arena where nearly 250 people gathered Sunday to cheer on such colorful characters as The Coroner, The Suicide Kid and The Fallen Angel Christopher Daniels, who strolled into the ring dressed in a clerical robe preceded by two women worshippers who bowed before him.

Sunday's Rampage at the Arena was the second event staged by the Empire Wrestling Federation at the arena that once played host to wrestling greats Gorgeous George, John Tolos, and Freddie Blassie. The arena regularly offered wrestling matches from the 1930s and until 1983, according to federation promoter Jesse Hernandez.

"There is a lot of history in this building, and we are hoping to revive it and keep it going.," said Hernandez.

Hernandez was pleased with Sunday's crowd and said that he has seen the popularity of wrestling grow over the past few months with fans coming from throughout Southern California, some traveling from San Diego to attend the monthly events.

Bob Latham and his son, Shawn, 17, of Rancho Cucamonga have been to nearly all of the major wrestling events in the past few years and have seen some of the top wrestlers under the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling banners.

"We like the atmosphere," said the elder Latham. "Here we can watch their careers begin. It's great seeing guys go up to the bigger federations," he said.

The Lathams have been following the Empire Wrestling Federation since they stumbled upon a flier a year ago advertising an event. They have been hooked ever since they saw the first body slam at the San Bernardino Boys and Girls Club, the Empire federation's previous home for two years.

There are 25 active wrestlers under the Empire banner; seven matches were held Sunday before a vocal crowd whose chants and taunts got mixed responses from the wrestlers.

The Ghetto Boyz successfully retained their Empire World Tag Team title when their opponents The Haystack Brothers, dressed in overalls and ratty T-shirts, were disqualified after an elbow to the jaw of the referee left him out cold. After regaining consciousness and announcing the decision, the referee got attacked again by the Haystack Brothers and left to a chorus of boos from the crowd.

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