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Celebrities Who Wrestled: Maynard James Keenan aka The Lead Singer of Tool, A Perfect Circle and Puscifer

One of my best friends and roommates for a couple years at Loras College was a guy who won state for Dubuque Hempstead in 2003. His name is Adam Gottschalk. For frame of reference, Adam was the 2003 3A 112 State Champion as a Junior.

Anyways, one time Adam, a huge metal-head, said that he wanted to show me a music clip that he thought I would like. I figured that it’d be one of the metal bands that he had recently gotten into, which was fine, I listen to that genre here and there, but he assured me that it was something from a band that was “more up my alley.” So he started playing this clip of a low-quality concert of the band Tool. I immediately knew who this band was and was like, “dude I already know and like Tool. And I love A Perfect Circle just as much or more.” A Perfect Circle is the name of the band that lead singer of Tool, Maynard James Keenan also fronts. Adam told me to just shut up and watch.  After a few seconds of watching this clip, you notice that this huge Tool fanatic who was in attendance had somehow managed to jump the gates, get by security and join the stage with the band where he began walking towards Maynard James Keenan with his arms outstretched, wanting a hug. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tool, they seem to have that effect on some of their fans. At shows or in general, their fans become enamored and excited to the point where you’ll see big, masculine men weeping and carrying on like teenage girls at a New Kids On The Block or Backstreet Boys concert. I’ve never seen anything like it, and yes, I’ve been to both, a Tool and A Perfect Circle show and have witnessed it firsthand.  Maynard James Keenan’s response to this fan is one that the guy likely didn’t expect, but should have considering he rudely interrupted the show. When this fan reached Keenan, Keenan acted like he was going to reciprocate the hug, but then proceeded to grab his arm and hip toss him to his back. And when he got him here, he put his leg in and locked him up and held him there… and here is the thing that ices this situation as being just epic… HE DIDN’T STOP SINGING. He lit this guy up with a lateral drop and put the legs in and didn’t even miss a beat. He held this fan there while he finished the song and hopefully taught this crazy fan a lesson to not interfere with an artist’s show in the process.

It should be noted, that while Keenan’s wrestling background was very noticeable while watching him execute the hip toss in this clip, that his background in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was also on display for the influence of BJJ on Maynard James Keenan is just as much or more prevalent than wrestling. The video clip took place at least prior to 2002 and Keenan started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the mid-90’s under Rickson Gracie. Gracie is a Brazilian 9th-degree red belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and a retired mixed martial artist. Most of us who have followed MMA to even a minimal extent have likely heard of the last name, “Gracie” and are likely aware of the influence they have had on the MMA scene. Rickson is a member of that family. He is the 3rd oldest son of Helio Gracie, and his siblings include Rorion and Relson Gracie as well as half-siblings, Rolker, Royce, Robin and Royler. The Gracie family is MMA royalty and that’s who Maynard James Keenan studied Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under. BJJ has been and continues to be so prominent in Keenan’s life that it’d be disrespectful to all the work he has put in over the years training as well as the individuals who helped him train if I were to leave it out of this story.

HERE IS THE CLIP TO THAT:

When I saw this happen, I laughed and screamed, “holy cow! Maynard James Keenan was a wrestler!!?!” I mean it was uncanny. Perfect technique. Perfectly executed. The only way he would have the instinct to do that would be if he had a wrestling background or at the very least, a background in a related martial art. You can just tell. And Adam confirmed, yes Maynard James Keenan was indeed a wrestler in high school. I already was a fan of everything Keenan was part of in the field of music, but of course, this made me like him even more on multiple levels.

So of course, I dug into it a little further.

Maynard James Keenan was a 1982 graduate from Mason County Central in Michigan. This was where he wrestled. His father, Mike was the wrestling coach at Mason County Central from the 70’s until 1982. After becoming a rock star, Maynard did not lose touch with the sport of wrestling and some of the skills, values and life lessons he accumulated from his experience with the sport. He has since, continued to give back to the sport of wrestling by means of monetary donations and has even helped coach in the Mason County Central wrestling room.  One of the coolest things I’ve ever heard about any celebrity, let alone celebrities who wrestled, was that Keenan offered to pay for 16 wrestlers to attend an Olivet wrestling camp, but on one condition… He made it a requirement that each kid wrote an essay detailing what wrestling means to them and why it was important for them to go to the camp. How about that?! As we all could likely assume, there is a large percentage of celebrities who were athletes in high school, in which giving back to the activities/sports that instilled within them the life skills and lessons that undoubtedly contributed to their success, would not even think to give back to the sport(s) or the youth who participates in them today. Wrestling, on the other hand , produced an athlete who became a rock star who never lost sight of the influence the sport had on him and further yet, gave back to the sport in a manner that would help the youth in terms of affordability to participate in it as well as tapping into their thoughtful, creative sides in the process. More wrestling coaches should have their athletes partake in these sorts of lessons/activities.

If Maynard James Keenan is not a perfect example of the leadership, determination and selflessness that the sport of wrestling promotes, I don’t know what is. He makes the wrestling community proud in the manner he continues to work hard, lead by example and give back to a sport that did so much for him.

 Maynard James Keenan also co-founded Verde Valley Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with first degree black belt, Chris Burns. Classes are held in Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona and they operate under the following mission statement: 

OUR MISSION HERE AT VERDE VALLEY BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU IS THE PRESERVATION AND DISSEMINATION OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU FOR SELF DEFENSE AS DEVELOPED AND TAUGHT BY MASTERS HELIO AND RICKSON GRACIE. SELF PRESERVATION IN AN UNFORESEEN CONFLICT IS THE GOAL. BY BUILDING A SOLID FOUNDATION OF CONNECTION, BALANCE, LEVERAGE, AND SITUATIONAL AWARENESS, WE CAN GIVE OUR STUDENTS AN ADVANTAGE OVER AN UNTRAINED OPPONENT WHO MAY BE LARGER AND STRONGER. BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU, LIKE LIFE IN GENERAL, IS A JOURNEY FILLED WITH OBSTACLES WORTH  NAVIGATING.IT’S A JOURNEY OF SELF DISCOVERY.VERDE VALLEY BJJ WAS ESTABLISHED TO SERVE AS A STARTING POINT TOWARDS EACH OF THOSE PERSONAL DISCOVERIES. YOU JUST NEED TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP.FOR SELF DEFENSE. FOR SPORT. FOR PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND SPIRITUAL GROWTH. FOR LIFE.

Mr. Keenan, if you are reading this, please contact me, for I would love for you to partake in a series we have called “Remember The Wrestler.” I believe your participation could help us with our mission to promote growth in wrestling as well as provide valuable insight that current, future and past wrestlers could utilize to become successful on and off the mat. Please email me at thepindoctors@gmail.com if this is something that interests you. THANK YOU!

“I got involved with the team last year after I found out that Jim Allen was coaching. Jim and I wrestled together and I knew that he would give the kids the type of work ethic and pride that we grew up with. I knew they would have the drive under Jim’s leadership.”

-Maynard James Keenan

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