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Mero gets physical

SABLE Former wrestler Reno Mero (Sable). Toronto Sun photo by: Norm Betts.
By MARLENE HABIB -- Canadian Press

 TORONTO -- Slamming bodies is no longer on the agenda of Rena Mero, once known as Sable in pro-wrestling rings.

With a lawsuit against the World Wrestling Federation behind her, the former mat babe is now inspiring others to rearrange how they look and feel, through exercise and healthy eating.

And if need be, with a little help from the surgeon.

"I went through a chubby stage in my teens, but as I got taller I became more conscious of my eating habits because I wanted to pursue modelling," recalls Mero.

Mero of Orlando, Fla., was in Toronto promoting her second Playboy cover in a year -- a record by the magazine's standards.

Accompanied by hulking hubby Marc Mero, known as Marvellous Marc in his wrestling career, she wore a tight black pantsuit with plunging neckline.

Her lean-muscle physique isn't solely due to her two hours a day of cardio and weight training or a high-protein, low-fat diet.

She says she backs any woman who makes an educated choice to surgically alter her looks.

"It was a conscious thing I did to feel better about myself," Mero says of the breast implants she got six years ago. "I don't think it's anything different than colouring your hair."

September's Playboy features Mero in strategically placed leather and chains, black stiletto heels and long and teased platinum blond hair.

The harsh makeup makes her look much older than her 31 years. In person, she's prettier and her devotion to fitness is reflected in her size 3 body -- 127 pounds packed tightly on a five-foot-six frame.

"I'm heavier now than when I was modelling but wear two sizes smaller," Mero says. "Muscle weighs heavier than fat."

Her publicists play her up as the fittest woman alive. With theatrics and stunts, she could drop 300-pound male brutes on their heads in the ring.

Exercise, says Mero, has helped keep her sane during her battle with the WWF.

She left the "sport run amok" after refusing to go topless. Then she sued the WWF for $110 million.

The lawsuit was recently settled out of court on the condition Mero release no details. But it's believed part of the deal was that she drop the name Sable.

Mero has been accused of using wrestling to launch other career pursuits. But she says the WWF is now obscene and unsafe, referring to the recent death of Calgary wrestler Owen Hart during a stunt.

With an 11-year-old daughter to think of, Mero says she's ecstatic with the settlement and is ready to get on with her life.

That life began when Mero was a skinny brunette growing up in poverty in Jacksonville, Fla.

"My family fought tooth and nail to get anything," recalls Mero, one of six children raised by her mother and stepfather.

Because her parents couldn't afford anything more, she joined school and parks-and-recreation sports leagues before becoming a Grade 10 dropout and teen bride.

"When I was young, I was painfully shy," says Mero. "I started out modelling to break the barrier of pain of appearing in the public eye."

While working in a law office and modelling part time, Wayne Richardson, Mariah's father, was killed in a drunk-driving accident.

Two years later, she met Marvellous Marc Mero. He gave her his best pickup line; she didn't bite. But they ran into each other again and have been together since.

She started appearing as Marvellous Marc's ringside assistant, and soon took to body-slamming opponents with the best of them, becoming women's champion before being stripped of her title in her quarrel with the WWF.

Marc Mero says his wife is "the most disciplined person I've ever met," and there's nothing more attractive than a physically fit female.

On her Web site: ( she peddles an Ab-Pad stomach-exercise machine. The site, featuring pictures of Mero boxing and pumping iron, quotes her as saying physical activity has always been her forte, and a chore she enjoys.

"Working out is part of my lifestyle," says Mero, who's now developing beauty products and nutritional supplements, and is fielding TV and movie offers.

"It's a great stress reliever and helps me take my mind off things."

Sable photo gallery