Roots Rasslin'

At Tugboat Taylor's gym, would-be wrestlers are taught the eternal verities: It's more fun to be a heel, but heels always lose.

"I always try to sit close to the fourth or fifth row, work with whoever's in the ring to get the crowd worked up." Haynes explains, "I'll make faces at them, call them names, tell them they aren't tough, that they're gonna get whipped, that I'll come up there and whip them myself."

The thought of being folded up and mailed home by this slender, kindly woman no doubt terrifies the likes of Fontaine and the Top Cop. Making her mad just might cost someone a friend who, for all her ringside bloodthirstiness, is somehow just hopelessly, old-fashionably sweet.

"I was at a match a few months ago where the wrestlers got really mad at each other," she recounts disapprovingly. "All the way out to the fourth row you could actually hear them cussing each other. And there were children there."

The first thought that came to mind upon hearing Haynes' tale was, of course, "This is a woman who has never sat within earshot of the court at an NBA game." And the second was that maybe this was a better world back when professional athletes watched their mouths with children present, and we all knew the bad guys were eventually going to lose.

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