1. Opinion

Dan Ruth: Hulk Hogan and the Boys & Girls Clubs are curious bedfellows

In 2005, Hulk Hogan, who was then 51, fires up the crowd between matches during WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (CHRIS CARLSON  |  AP)
In 2005, Hulk Hogan, who was then 51, fires up the crowd between matches during WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (CHRIS CARLSON | AP)
Published Jul. 18, 2018

F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. There are indeed second acts in life, even if it involves going from being a walking geek show to being welcomed back into the steroid-inflated bosom of the fake wrestling world.

A few days ago World Wrestling Entertainment announced it was reinstating the coveted status (stop laughing!) of Hall of Famer to its once fallen, but now apparently rehabilitated former star, Tampa's own Hulk Hogan, whose major contribution to American culture appears to be an ability to sweat profusely. But he does it very well.

Ordinarily the fast breaking story that Hogan and the WWE have kissed and made up would be about as newsworthy as Carrot Top announcing his tour schedule.

But it seems Hogan's return to the WWE was paved by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, who recently honored the big lug as one of its Alumni Hall of Fame recipients. What? Elmer Fudd wasn't available?

What is there to say, except Oh Brother!

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, received the national honor from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, based on his work with the local Tampa Bay organization, which has to make you wonder who were the real parties who were dropped on their heads.

By now, just about everyone in Tampa Bay is familiar with Hogan's fall from grace when a video tape surfaced capturing the grappler grappling in the boudoir with his so-called best friend's wife who was wedded (at the time) to radio dancing monkey Bubba the Love Sponge.

One might argue the X-rated actions caught on video hardly comport with the Boys & Girls Clubs' mission statement: "To enable all young people, especially those who need us the most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens."

Hogan eventually won a massive court settlement over the publication of the tryst with Mrs. Sponge. But the damage to Hogan's already dubious image was done.

The contretemps over Hogan cavorting with Mrs. Sponge on the video also captured the Hulkster engaging in a profanity F-bomb laded rant in which he repeatedly dropped more racist N-bombs than an Aryan Nation convention.

The revelation of that bigoted side to Hogan only added to the wrestler's well-known declasse behavior, which included appearances on Howard Stern's radio show boasting (falsely, as he later admitted) about the size of his manhood and related sexual exploits.

And let not forget that scene from the reality show "Hogan Knows Best," which featured the star dispensing advice while sitting in the loo. Dignity, always dignity.

Still, despite the sex tape, the racist bellowing, the scatological wisdom, the lurid braggadocio, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America decided to bestow its Alumni Hall of Fame recognition on Hulk Hogan.

The organization has honored the likes of Denzel Washington, former NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. George Mitchell and even Tampa residents Olympian Brooke Bennett, Tony LaRussa and Lou Piniella. This year's list includes Lt. General Leslie Smith.

And then there is Hulk Hogan. Who might be in the running for the 2019 award? Stormy Daniels?

During his acceptance speech, Hogan said he hoped to instill in young people the importance of learning from one's mistakes after one finds oneself: "being in the wrong place at the wrong time." Yes indeed, like finding oneself being filmed in the altogether with one's alleged best friend's wife in the couple's bedroom while uttering a racist obscenity-filled soliloquy about black people. Hey kids! Don't do that!

Yep, stuff does happen. There certainly is a lesson there.

Forgive just a pinch of cynicism, but don't you suspect the Boys & Girls Clubs of America essentially punched Hogan's ticket back into a well-paying gig with the WWE? If a youth organization dedicated to improving the lives of children could see their way to overlook Hogan's bigoted, salacious transgressions, why not the purveyors of phony wrestling exhibitions?

Here's a scary question. Who had the higher standards?