(WSVN) - You just watched WWE Friday Night SmackDown right here on 7, so do you want to jump into the ring yourself? It’s pretty easy to do, because as 7’s Kevin Ozebek shows us, there is a “Smackdown School” right here in South Florida.
What you love to watch in the WWE ring, you can also see at Gangrel’s Wrestling Asylum in Dania Beach.
David “Gangrel” Heath, Gangrel’s Wrestling Asylum: “See? I’m here. I’m not on the throat.”
This former WWE star, who goes by the name Gangrel, teaches students how to wrestle, WWE style.
David “Gangrel” Heath: “You come here, you fit. You can be the oddest oddball to the rest of the world, they may think, but you come here, and you’re OK.”
Gangrel, whose real name is David Heath, grew up in Deerfield Beach. He turned to street fighting and drug dealing in his early teens.
But at 17, his life completely changed when he answered an ad to be a professional wrestler.
David “Gangrel” Heath: “The rough side of me is like, ‘Yeah, I can beat somebody up and make money. Let me go check that out!’ It saved my life. I don’t think I would be here, honestly. I would be either sitting in prison or not on this earth anymore.”
After a long, successful career as a wrestler, he came back to South Florida three years ago to pay it forward and opened a wrestling school.
David “Gangrel” Heath: “You come in here, and we’re going to grow together, and we’re going to get through life together, and we are going to find out who we all are together.”
He’s mentoring students like Stephen Beckler, who has mastered the moves and perfected the art of performance needed to engage a crowd.
Gangrel’s advanced students get to wrestle in front of a real audience in student showcase matches.
Kevin Ozebek: “So when you are starting to walk out there, and you hear that crowd chanting your name, what is that like?”
Stephen Beckler: “It’s the highest drug that you can ever take. It’s unreal.”
Anna Diaz is another one of Gangrel’s star students.
Anna Diaz: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, I honestly do not know where I would be. I would honestly probably be home right now doing nothing.”
Anna can lay down some serious smackdowns. All the more impressive, because this 19-year-old has epilepsy.
Anna Diaz: “I’m not able to drive, I’m not able to go certain places alone, because you never know what could happen. But when I am in the ring, I feel like I know what I’m doing. I can control everything that’s gonna happen.”
For Anna and Steve, learning to smack down has led to a surge in self confidence.
Gangrel couldn’t be more proud.
David “Gangrel” Heath: “I hope I’m giving them some guidance in life itself through wrestling, and a better journey to be a better person.”
Who knew a body slam could come with such heart and soul?
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