“Another highway, another town.” For over four years, the 1 Called Manders has lived by that mantra. As a result, Manders has carved a path of bruised and broken bodies in his short but impressive career, traveling highways all across the country, from small-town fair shows to big city blockbusters.
His travels this year alone have taken him to 28 different promotions across the United States. From Las Vegas to Philadelphia, Texas to Iowa, the “Cornbelt Cowboy” has seen a million faces and – to steal a line from his iconic entrance theme – has rocked them all.
His college years as a football player for the University of Iowa not only prepared him for his current way of life but was where he received sage advice from Iowa Grad Assistant Chris Polizzi that he’d live his entire life by.
“It takes zero God-given ability to give attitude and effort.”
“When I heard that, my mind was blown. It was like leveling up to the hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I never heard it like that, and it was something that I took to heart. BIG TIME took to heart and never looked back. That made me better, not only as a football player but more importantly a man.”
The Division I college football experience made him ready for his next venture, stepping inside the squared circle. His opportunity wasn’t far away as Manders opted into training at the Black and Brave Wrestling Academy out of Davenport, Iowa.
The physically demanding training at the academy was nothing new for Manders. Having trained at the highest level of collegiate football. Then, receiving training from academy founders, WWE Superstar Seth Rollins (formerly Tyler Black) and Marek Brave, Manders took to the sport of wrestling almost immediately.
“Marek was tough. He never sugarcoats anything (which I prefer). He’s real; I think that’s why I’ve always respected him, especially as a coach. He knows his sh**. Marek was on the independent scene, grinding his way to the top. I respect the hell out of that.”
“Rollins is no joke. Think what you want, be jealous all you want for his success, but that man did what you would call the unthinkable. He was an underdog, in my opinion. Put in that work like Marek and made it just like every person who wants to pursue wrestling and make it big. Rollins did that.”
After training with the likes of other up-and-coming independent wrestlers like JT Energy and Frontman Jah C, Manders ventured out into the independent wrestling scene, where he found success.
Taking inspiration from the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Terry Funk, Stan Hansen, and Doctor Death Steve Williams, Manders’ no-nonsense, smash-mouth, hard-nosed approach was appreciated and respected by fan bases in every promotion he competed in.His first year on the independent wrestling scene, Manders wrestled for seven different promotions, the rush of performing in front of a crowd, then hitting the road to entertain the next, immediately pushing him to achieve even more.
“As simply as I can say it, it’s the rush, the adrenaline, the unknown,” Manders said. “When I was a kid, I loved maps. I thought each state or just basically what’s out there was fascinating. Looking back, I guess it’s some influence being a wrestler seeing different states and hitting another highway another town.”
Since his 2017 debut, Manders has gained a reputation as one of the hardest working wrestlers on the independent scene, with more promotions bringing him to add some toughness to their locker rooms.
Gaining somewhat of a cult hero following, especially in the midwest, Manders has crossed paths with some of the biggest names in independent wrestling. One such name was Effy. Earlier this year, during SCWPro Hawkamania 19, Manders and Effy had themselves a good old-fashioned barroom brawl.
Taking on one of the most popular independent wrestlers in the country was an opportunity Manders wouldn’t pass on and was one he came out of having unparalleled levels of respect for.
“FLAT OUT, EFFY RULES. He really is one of a kind. One of the best humans I’ve ever met. To be considered “Match of the Year for Iowa” or whatever is cool. We beat the sh** out of each other like how brothers do. Effy is goals, honestly. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die, right? He is on that path or already there; I got a lot of work to do.”
With 2022 steadily approaching, 1 Called Manders is heading into the new year with a wave of momentum from a stellar 2021.
His most recent match for SCWPro against Damien last Saturday at Hawkamania, an event of which he’s become a cornerstone of, was a knockdown, drag-out fight in the same venue Manders and Effy had their classic two months prior.
Before the Saint match, Manders wrestled Chris Dickinson, and it was a major milestone as it marked the 500th match of his career. A significant moment not lost on the man in the cowboy hat.
“I believe in this idea pretty much that you get what you put in. Having to wrestle in thirty-plus states and outside the country has taught me a lot,” Manders said. “I’ve been able to have 500 matches in almost five years. I’ve really dedicated my life to pro wrestling. The best part is… I’m just getting started.”
Only the road knows what 2022 has in store for the 1 Called Manders. But one thing fans new and old of the “Cornbelt Cowboy” can expect is that when Manders comes around, somebody’s in for a fight.