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Albert Lea principal to answer the bell

Published 7:01am Friday, March 15, 2013

The Albert Lea High School principal is going to get in a square ring this weekend and wrestle a man by the name of Masked Assassin.

It’s true. Jim Wagner makes his debut at professional wrestling Saturday night at Albert Lea High School in an effort to raise funds for school’s weight-training facility. He said he cares about teaching students lifelong fitness skills, considering the country is dealing with an obesity problem.

“If we don’t provide good equipment in school for them to learn on, it’s hard to expect them to have those traits for life,” he said.

The doors open at 6 p.m., with the bell ringing at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.

Wagner said seeing him get in the ring provides students with a different perspective about their principal, and a way for the community to connect, too.

“It’s entertaining,” he said. “I just think it is something that can bring the community together.”

Students have been excited about it, he said. Some staff workers have asked him what he will wear. He said he won’t be in a singlet. He said people will have to go if they want to find out.

Wagner, 41, said he has tried his hand at pro wrestling when he was an assistant principal in Monticello, but it was a tag-team match, and his partner did nearly all the wrestling. He has been principal at Albert Lea High School since fall 2012. He was in Monticello for three years.

The wrestlers at the event are with the American Wrestling Federation, which perform for fundraisers across the country. Masked Assassin is 6 feet tall, 325 pounds and seems to be in his 20s, Wagner said.

Is Wagner nervous?

“I’ll tell you what,” he said. “What you see on TV is a lot harder than it looks.”

Wagner has been practicing, learning to take falls, minimize pain, kick and hit accurately, “maintain the ambience of the storyline” and the whole good-guy-versus-bad-guy thing. Will Wagner be a good guy or bad guy?

“We’ll find out Saturday. It depends on how the crowd starts to cheer,” he said.

Wagner said the weight training facility is “in dire need” of an upgrade. He said research shows students who are fit and stay active perform better on tests, tend not to get into negative situations, have more confidence and less nervous energy.

Wagner has some words for the Masked Assassin: “When I get in that ring, I hope to bring the shakedown, and the bottom line is I hope to be on top.”

Not exactly sounding like Randy Savage or Hulk Hogan yet, but he’s getting there.