Superstar wrestler running for mayor

Kane the wrestler (above) is also Glenn Jacobs, the owner of Jacobs Insurance Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kane the wrestler (above) is also Glenn Jacobs, the owner of Jacobs Insurance Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.PHOTO: KANE WWE/INSTAGRAM
Kane the wrestler is also Glenn Jacobs (above), the owner of Jacobs Insurance Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Kane the wrestler is also Glenn Jacobs (above), the owner of Jacobs Insurance Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.PHOTO: KANE WWE/INSTAGRAM

ATLANTA • The 2.1m-tall superstar wrestler, a fan favourite for decades, weighs more than 136 kg.

His official biography on the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) website describes him as a "monstrous abomination that seems to have been extracted directly from your childhood nightmares".

With long, stringy hair falling out behind a ghoulish face mask, an ever-present look of anger etched onto his jaw and a penchant for viciousness in the wrestling ring, that assessment seems spot-on.

Friends, though, know him as Glenn Jacobs, the owner of Jacobs Insurance Associates in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Last week, dressed not in his usual Spandex, but in a blue suit and yellow tie, he officially announced his candidacy for mayor of Tennessee's Knox County, which includes Knoxville and its suburban sprawl.

He is running as a Republican.

"For the past 22 years, I've had the pleasure of living here in East Tennessee," Jacobs said during the announcement. "Because my career with WWE has taken me all around the world on a weekly basis, my family and I could live pretty much anywhere in the US that we wanted.

"We live here because we want to live here - because we love it here."

As a wrestler, Jacobs' character, Kane, was known to finish off opponents with the brutal tombstone piledriver, in which he placed his opponent on his shoulder, then slid "the wrestler down into position, upside-down, before dropping his knees to the mat, sending the opponent's unprotected head bouncing off the floor below", as one blogger described it.

As a mayoral candidate, Jacobs seems focused on the Republican ideals of small business and small government.

"I want to do my part to make sure that it (Knox County) remains a great place and that our future's brighter than ever," he said. "I'll work hard to make Knox County a place that is attractive for new businesses as well as a place where existing businesses can continue to grow, thrive and flourish."

He concluded the announcement by invoking the late Mr Ronald Reagan, the 40th president of the United States.

"Ronald Reagan referred to America as the shining city upon a hill. I think Knox County can be just that, an example to the rest of a beacon of light shining not on me or any elected official, but on all of you and our wonderful community."

When filing paperwork for his mayoral run, Jacobs told the Knoxville News Sentinel that his background as a wrestler could be useful while campaigning.

"I have an inherent understanding because of WWE... of how a campaign works and some of the things I would do would be unique and different," he said.

"Millennials are now nearly as big a voting bloc as baby boomers. I think I'll be able to reach a much wider audience that others might not be able to reach."

He has previously used his wrestling persona to help the citizens of Knox County.

As part of the Kindness Revolution, an anti-bullying campaign that focuses on performing acts of kindness, he visited schools to share his own unexpected stories of being picked on.

"I was the tall, gangly kid, awkward and not good at sports yet. So I was a natural target for bullies," he told local radio station WVLT. "It's funny now, 'cause people say, 'What would you do if you went back?' And I'm like, nothing, I'd just feel sorry for the bullies."

It is unclear if he would stop wrestling.

As one wrestling blogger wrote last week, "injuries have slowed him down in recent years and he has not appeared on WWE TV since November, so his full-time days are likely over. If he runs for mayor, then this may close the door on his in-ring career".

Jacobs would not be the first wrestler to attempt a transition to politics.

Jerry "The King" Lawler made an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Memphis in 1999.

Jesse Ventura, meanwhile, successfully switched from wrestling to politics, becoming the mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and, eventually, the governor of Minnesota.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'Superstar wrestler running for mayor'. Print Edition | Subscribe