North Arlington teen Cammett aspires to become professional wrestler
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Mike Cammett has always been a fan of professional wrestling. Ever since he was a little boy, Cammett would envision himself as becoming the next Shawn Michaels.
“Watching him as I was growing up, he was always a role model to me,” said Cammett, a 17-year-old senior at North Arlington High School who plays football and is a member of the track team. “The whole electric format of wrestling really intrigued me.”
So Cammett would practice moves he learned watching the Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment stars like Michaels with his friends.
“I was jumping and diving off my dresser, breaking beds and walls in my house,” Cammett said.
Cammett said that he was looking for a wrestling school, trying to learn the ins and outs of the professional wrestling game.
Enter Kevin Knight. The Nutley native has been involved in professional wrestling for almost two decades.
Knight never expected himself to be a part of pro wrestling. He was a student at William Paterson in the radio and television production department and had a job at WGHT Radio doing sports.
“Someone said that I would make a great ring announcer, so I decided to give it a try,” Knight said.
At the time, Knight became friendly with pro wrestler Rik Ratchet and Ratchet started to give Knight some pointers at becoming a pro wrestler.
“I worked with him prior to some shows and I learned what to do,” Knight said. “I had the right height and I had a good personality.”
Knight was able to keep his own name as he moved his way up the pro wrestling ranks, eventually doing some shows with the WWE.
“I got beat up by some of their big stars,” Knight said. “Brutus Beefcake, Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart, the ‘A Train,’ they all got me.”
Knight attended a host of local wrestling shows for four years or so; then he got an idea from other fans.
“People would always ask me how could they get into it,” Knight said. “There were really not a lot of places to learn.”
Knight started his Independent Wrestling Federation, which was housed for 12 years in West Paterson (the town was eventually renamed as Woodland Park).
“While I still wrestled, I taught classes,” Knight said. “I brought in some of the superstars of wrestling to help teach the class like Tito Santana and ‘The Honky Tonk Man.’ They were instructors.”
One of Knight’s pupils, Darren Young, has become a regular with the WWE shows for the last four years.
But Knight’s business was devastated by flooding on several occasions and after a while, he decided to walk away from the sport to become a fitness trainer.
“I sold everything,” Knight said. “But every day, I would still get e-mails and correspondence, asking me about teaching the classes.”
In May, Knight decided to get back into the wrestling ring and reinstitute his IWF, but now in a location on Franklin Ave. in his hometown of Nutley.
“I needed some time away,” Knight said. “But there was always the thought of coming back. Being in Nutley really helped. I get a lot of support from the community and the town. It’s a good fit.”
Since he started classes again four days a week, Knight has 25 students in his regular training program. He usually requires the students to be at least 18 and to have had some sort of athletic background.
For anyone younger, Knight requires parental approval.
Cammett found out about Knight and the IWF on the Internet.
Cammett’s father suggested the lessons as a birthday present, so he agreed to send his son.
“I had been looking for a wrestling school for a long time,” Cammett said. “This was the best birthday present ever. I was happy that I got accepted. My father knew that this was something I wanted to do for a long time, but my friends were asking, ‘Are you really going to do this?’ But I was serious about it.”
Cammett knew that there was a big difference between high school athletics and pro wrestling.
“I know that it’s entertainment,” Cammett said. “I always have to keep that in mind. But I’m always going to perform like it’s real and we’re putting on a show. It’s athletic entertainment, but it’s definitely a different transition from football.”
Knight was a high school athlete, so he knows.
“I’d say that it’s 80% showmanship and 20% athleticism,” Knight said. “When they start out, it’s athletics, but then it becomes show business. But in reality, all of sports is like show business. It’s no difference than ‘Dancing With The Stars.’ There’s a routine, the lights, the costumes.”
Cammett has been attending classes with Knight for three months, but he’s already performed in four events.
“He picked things up very quickly,” Knight said. “It usually takes three months to get in the ring for an event, but Mike was a great student. He has a lot of discipline. I think it’s his athletic background in football and track. He is also a high honors student.”
Cammett isn’t the biggest guy in the world, standing about 5-foot-8 and weighing 175 pounds.
“But if you watch wrestling, it’s not a big guys’ sport anymore,” said Knight, who stands 6-foot-4, but is lean. “It’s about dedication and desire. It’s about passion for what you do.”
Knight teaches his students every aspect of pro wrestling. It includes getting in the ring with a microphone and performing like the wrestlers do, complete with taunting and dramatics.
It also meant that Cammett needed a nickname like most wrestlers.
“I thought about ‘The Real Deal,’ but that didn’t really work,” Cammett said.
Because Cammett has long, flowing blond hair, the eventual nickname was extremely fitting.
“One of my good friends, Maribel Bermudez, has been calling me ‘Golden Boy’ since elementary school,” Cammett said. “I actually like it.”
So sure enough, he’s known as “The Golden Boy Mike Cammett.”
Cammett said that he was a little nervous performing in his first show.
“My hands were sweating,” Cammett said. “It was different in front of an audience. But once I got out there, it wasn’t that hard. It was something I knew I could do. I could be entertaining and I have to be entertaining to be out there.”
Cammett doesn’t have visions of grandeur just yet. He knows that the WWE isn’t calling anytime soon. He also knows that football practice begins this week, so he has to juggle his time between being an aspiring pro wrestler and a high school linebacker and running back.
“No matter how exhausted I am from football, I know I’m going to be back here,” Cammett said. “I’ll be here whenever I can. I finally found that this is the place where I want to be and I’ll take it as far as I can go. I can’t believe I was in my first show in a little over a month. I was just so eager and wanted to learn. It’s everything I could have asked for.”
Knight likes what he sees from Cammett.
“He’s a good kid,” Knight said. “He’s very dedicated and wants it. If he sticks with it, who knows how far he can take it?”
The IWF holds small shows in Nutley every other weekend. They also host private parties for youngsters, like birthday parties. Chances are that “The Golden Boy” will be golden in some of those shows in the future.
Knight’s next beginner classes begin Sept. 7 for adults 18 and older. The IWF Wrestling Centre is located at 75 Franklin Ave. in Nutley. For more information, log on to www.CampIWF. com.