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Venis takes a tough stand

By SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun
  Just because a professional wrestler has a $10 body doesn't mean he's got a 10-cent head.

That's certainly the case when it comes to World Wrestling Federation superstar Val Venis, a proud Canadian who grappled his way through a vicious hardcore-rules match during yesterday's nearly sold-out card at Skyreach Centre.

Venis, who grew up in Toronto before entering the world of the squared circle, spends what little time he does have on tour working on his political newsletter, Hardball. He talks the talk of an experienced campaigner while sporting a WWF Hotel and Casino T-shirt with a pair of thick silver chains dangling from his muscular neck.

"Anybody who comes out of public high school is going to come out a little left wing and it wasn't until I actually got into confrontations with conservatives and I was throwing all my ammunition at them that they eventually showed me enough," said Venis in a pre-show chat with The Sun.

"I convinced myself that I never really saw things that way because I was never taught that way and now I'm learning something really different - I'm learing about life after school."

Venis' scribbles deal with both topical Canadian and American issues and the man with the grapefruit-sized biceps is planning on reaching a greater audience in the near-future through the Web and possibly a radio or TV talk show. But "The Big Valbowski," who once dreamed of flying an air ambulance for a living, takes a hard stance on a number of sensitive issues. He might draw raves for his plan to get rid of income tax, but no doubt draw the wrath of many with his belief that welfare should be abolished.

The WWF's faux porn star is quick to the point and well-spoken yet he's hesitant about running for office once his rasslin' days are over despite the precedent set by former feather-boaed-sensation-turned-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura.

"He really broke some major ground there, but to tell you the truth, I'd probably get shot," said Venis with a laugh. "I think I'm going to stick with more the teaching part of it through my newsletter, through debating over the radio or TV waves."

In the meantime, he'll continue to salute his female fans with a flick of his towel and a throaty "Hello, ladies" and on occasion, toss an opponent through a ringside table. All things considered, it's not a bad gig, even if it means about 300 days a year on the road and not much time for family and friends. Despite the temptations of a life on the constant go, Venis is loyal to his biggest fan.

"I get a lot of offers from pretty girls and it would be so easy for me to say 'OK, let's go,' but I just say `Hey, whoa. Slow down," said Venis, who met his girlfriend while competing in Mexico City.

"It's difficult sometimes, but she's getting used to it. People are always coming up and saying sign this and sign that. I love it, everywhere we go it's part of the job, but the only time I really get annoyed with it is when I'm at dinner having a conversation with my girlfriend or my parents and people come up to get something signed and you've got a steak half stuck out of your mouth."

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