Wrestler George South will return to a ring at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, his famous moves on full display as he guarantees to topple another foe.
The 55-year-old South may best be known in the Charlotte area for how Ric Flair beat him some 200 times. Yet Flair always respected him, told him how South was his favorite opponent for his skill and work ethic.
South, however, has something greater in mind than pinning an opponent on Saturday: He also will deliver a message near the end of his hour-long appearance about how God saved a troubled youth.
"He changed my life," South told the Observer this week. "I lost my parents at a young age, and I got into lots of trouble. At 13 was the first time I was told somebody loved me, without a catch."
"Everyone's welcome," South said of his planned 11 a.m. appearance in Rock City campground, beside the Hendrick auto complex on Bruton Smith Boulevard in Concord.
Free breakfast will be served at 9 a.m. and free lunch after the wrestling.
South owns a wrestling school in Charlotte and has taken his students to wrestle before Charlotte Motor Speedway fans for 17 years. He joined Raceway Ministries after 9/11 to share his personal testimony with fans. He also wrote an autobiography, “Dad You Don’t Work, You Wrestle!”
“Professional wrestling used to be the hottest thing in wrestling before the Panthers,” South told the Observer last year. “We were just household names. Me and Flair just hit it off. When he needed a good match, he always asked for me.”
South's greatest move was “the claw,” he said. “They took their big hands and put them on their opponent’s face,” South said. “Today’s younger fans have never seen it.” He also performed moves such as "The Flying Neckbreaker.”
South was born near Boone and caught the professional wrestling bug the first time he watched it on TV at age 9. “ I fell in love with it,” he said this week.
He was 13 when he became a born-again Christian. He had a mean streak, he said, and was drinking beer at age 10. One of his brothers told South that God loved him, and that changed his life, he said.
He graduated from North Gaston High School on a Friday in 1980 and the next day “they threw me in a ring,” he said. He’s wrestled professionally since 1985. He is 6-feet tall and 235 to 240 pounds.
He travels across the country wrestling throughout the year, but loves returning to his home turf, and the speedway in particular..
Since he owns the two rings he takes to venues such as the speedway, “I get to win,” he said with a laugh.
His brief message to fans will be the same one he heard at 13: God loves you, no matter what you’ve done, he said.