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Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, a master-at-arms at Sasebo Naval Base's Security Division, shows two of the masks he's worn as a longtime professional wrestler. He started at age 20 in Georgia, and still wrestles as a "bad guy" in Japanese pro matches.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, a master-at-arms at Sasebo Naval Base's Security Division, shows two of the masks he's worn as a longtime professional wrestler. He started at age 20 in Georgia, and still wrestles as a "bad guy" in Japanese pro matches. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, a master-at-arms at Sasebo Naval Base's Security Division, shows two of the masks he's worn as a longtime professional wrestler. He started at age 20 in Georgia, and still wrestles as a "bad guy" in Japanese pro matches.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, a master-at-arms at Sasebo Naval Base's Security Division, shows two of the masks he's worn as a longtime professional wrestler. He started at age 20 in Georgia, and still wrestles as a "bad guy" in Japanese pro matches. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook puts Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Winston in a headlock Tuesday to demonstrate a wrestling move he's used since turning pro at 20.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook puts Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Winston in a headlock Tuesday to demonstrate a wrestling move he's used since turning pro at 20. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, as a wrestler in his younger days in Georgia before joining the Navy.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, as a wrestler in his younger days in Georgia before joining the Navy. (Photo courtesy of Glen Holbrook)

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, in his "bad guy" American Ninja wrestling costume at a recent Japanese professional wrestling event.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, in his "bad guy" American Ninja wrestling costume at a recent Japanese professional wrestling event. (Photo courtesy of Glen Holbrook)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A twice-broken nose, broken teeth, a separated shoulder or two, more than 100 stitches, broken bones and knee surgery have failed to keep this wrestler out of the ring.

“It’s just something I became fascinated with as a small boy growing up in Duluth, Ga.,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Glen Holbrook, 40, a master-at-arms from Sasebo’s Security Division.

Unlike his friends, who idolized professional baseball and football players, Holbrook’s role models were wrestlers well-known in the South — Bob Armstrong, Mr. Wrestling, Tommy “Wildfire” Rich, The Fabulous Freebirds, Tony Atlas, Jerry and Ted Oates and Terry Funk, to name just a few.

“When I graduated from high school, I was nothing but a 6-foot-1-inch, 170-pound teenager. That’s not very much size to be a successful wrestler, even back then,” Holbrook said from his office Tuesday.

After high school, he met Frank Cochran, a retired wrestler and owner of the Doraville Boxing Club. There, Holbrook worked with weights, added muscle and trained for several months with Jerry Oates, a pro who started in 1970 and is now a wrestling promoter.

After “paying dues” wrestling as a bad guy in high school gyms and other small venues across the South, he went on to win several regional titles both as a tag team partner and solo.

Then came Hulk Hogan and similar wrestlers in the 250- to 300-pound range. Some were 6-foot-6-inch wrestlers, and even taller, with incredible musculature and athleticism.

In addition, large promoters started gobbling up small regional wrestling federations. Considering his size and experience level, Holbrook decided a more stable career was in order. He joined the Navy, and has served for 16 years.

But soon, he’ll use his downtime to return to the ring. A promoter in southern Japan wants Holbrook onboard as an American cowboy wrestler with bad attitude, complete with a big cowboy hat and jeans.

It won’t be his first stint on the Japanese wrestling circuit. He wrestled in Japan’s Super Pro Wrestling Federation in the early ’90s when he was stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

His wrestling history might lead one to wonder whether Holbrook is nothing more than a fight-loving tough guy.

“Nah. I’m no tough guy. But I guess I could hold my own,” he said. “I am, after all, 6-foot-1-inch tall and 228 pounds.

“Mainly, I have a lot of experience with pain. I don’t think anyone’s going to find some new way to make me hurt that I haven’t already tolerated at one time or another.”

But size and his pain tolerance are not the most important benefits Holbrook has drawn from wrestling, he said.

“The main thing I’ve learned from wrestling … and that’s helped me in my 16 years in the Navy … If you believe in yourself, you can do it,” he said. “At 170 pounds and 6-foot-1-inch, I had a lot of naysayers claiming I could never do it. Well, in 1994 in the Tokyo Dome, I wrestled in front of 66,000 people.”

“For all those who said I couldn’t, I said I could,” Holbrook said. “And I still can. So I consider myself lucky.”


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