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Event aims to put cancer on the ropes

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news Woodbury, 55125

Woodbury Minnesota 8420 City Centre Drive 55125

It goes without saying that cancer survivors can put up a fight.

As it turns out, they can also stage a battle, too.

On Saturday, May 17, Independent Wrestling International will hold a “Finish the Fight” event at East Ridge High School, where all proceeds will go toward Relay For Life of South Washington County.

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“I think it’s going to be a great family event,” said Karen Graves, communications director for the local Relay chapter.

The event took shape after a Primrose School of Woodbury teacher revealed a secret: he’s a wrestler.

Brian Sager – who wrestles under the stage name of “Hollywood Brian Sager” – stepped forward to suggest a wrestling benefit. Sager has wrestled nearly 10 years, but has kept his alter-ego quiet from the community until now.

“It is a little bit unknown,” he said, adding that he tries to balance both his life as an educator and his side job as a wrestler “I felt this is too big of an opportunity to sit on it.”

The idea of a wrestling fundraiser was an immediate hit among Relay organizers. Graves said since this year’s American Cancer Society theme is “Finish the Fight” that a wrestling event was a good, family-friendly fit.

“We jumped all over that,” she said.

So Sager is gathering up about 10 of his fellow wrestlers for the event. He said attendees can expect names like Ian Xavier, Spider-Baby and The Minnesotan to take the stage.

“I’m just hoping the whole town will come out,” Sager said.

Sager, a former Woodbury resident, said he developed a love for wrestling as a youngster through his grandfather, who was devoted to what he called the “rasslin’” shows on television. After his grandfather died in 2003, Sager decided to take up the sport as a tribute.

He went to wrestling school and has participated heavily until recently; his former routine has dwindled from weekly wrestling appearances to about once a month, Sager said.

“I still enjoy it,” he said, noting he still appears on the second Saturday of each month at the St. Paul Eagles Club.

Graves, a cancer survivor, said she welcomes offbeat events like the wrestling fundraiser, so long as they are tasteful and family friendly.

“We’re entertaining all options,” she said. “The ultimate goal is to raise as much money as possible to fund research to find a cure for cancer.”

Tickets for the event, held at East Ridge High School’s Perch gymnasium, are $10. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Concessions will be available.

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