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Local celeb wrestler keeps it real - and offers chance for shot at fame for others

Kevin Knight with a young fan.
Diane Lilli

Kevin Knight is already famous, but as anyone around here knows, this well known wrestler has kept his roots both humble and local here in Nutley. Now, Knight has decided to share his love of wrestling with local kids, and has opened his own wrestling school right on Franklin Avenue, in his own home town.

Knight is a renowned member of the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF), and though his stage persona is beyond wild and rebellious - with a “me first” attitude - in reality this local star is all about doing good deeds for others, all the time.

Knight is involved in numerous charities, and performs at fundraisers year round to help others. His most recent fundraiser was a wrestling event for Nutley’s Relay for Life, which helped raise over $75,000 this year for the American Cancer Society.

Now, this wrestler and educator has come back home, to share his fitness skills with residents in town.

The IWF Wrestling Training School was formerly located in Woodland Park/West Paterson, but Knight said he was waiting for an opportunity to bring his business back to Nutley.

“I had a school in there for 12 years, and we were there from 1999 -2011,” he said. “We closed it though it was very busy, and I wanted to be closer to home. I always said

I would do it again only if the perfect opportunity ever came up.”

Turns out that opportunity presented itself right in Nutley, complete with a 7,000 square foot property and a large parking lot.

The school, owned by Knight, teaches wrestling year round, for anyone 18 years and older.

But, Knight also is offering something very cool: summer youth wrestling clinics for kids ages 13 - 17.

“We have regular training for 18 and older and also have clinics for the kids for the summer,” said Knight.

Since it opened on May 1, Knight said he has already become very busy.

“We have 23 new students from all over. North and Central Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn and the Bronx,” he said. “And, we have 2 females.”

Since the clinics for children and trainings for adults are offered during the week, Knight is taking full advantage of his large space so he can host live exhibitions on weekends.

“I plan to do these twice a month,” he said. “These are open to the public. This way the students can wrestle in front of a live audience.”

When asked if wrestlers ever have stage fright, Knight laughed.

“Either they get over it very quickly or they don’t make it,” he noted.

Knight said they also host children’s birthday parties, where the kids get pizza, juice and cake and also get a show, complete with live wrestling matches.

“After the last match we bring the birthday child up in the ring,” added Knight. “He gets to pose with wrestlers and hold the champion belt and take pictures.”

As per the adult students, this training actually may lead to a career in wrestling.

“For adults, the goal is to go into WWE monday night for the Raw program or Smackdown television program,” he explained. “This school is like minor league baseball. We have had in our previous 12 years 31 of our guys who received tryouts with WWE and 11 who were signed for full time employment.”

And, since the space is zoned as a performance gym Knight will also will do special Zumba and fitness classes, fitness demos and nutrition classes.

Upcoming wrestling exhibitions open to the public June 13 at 8 pm and June 29 at 5 pm.  Zumba Master Classes June 28 at 10 am and 6 pm.  Youth wrestling clinics July 15-17 and August 12-14.


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