Blake Gauthier has always loved wrestling.
“My story started when I was a child watching WWE with my parents,” recalled the 44-year-old IT support worker.
“Since I was a small child I have always wanted to be a wrestler.”
Blake, nicknamed the Silverback Viking, will be making his wrestling debut on August 24 when he jumps into the ring as part of the Rumble in the North, Battle of the Bay Northland Wrestling event that will take over the Granite Club (5 p.m.).
But a pair of heart attacks and a torn MCL and LCL in one of his knees made this dream almost unachievable at one time.
His downward health spiral started in January of 2018 when he suffered a heart attack while walking down a street in Toronto with this girlfriend.
“I didn’t realize at that time that’s what it was,” explained Gauthier, who is a former member of the North Bay Senior Bulldogs football team.
“I just couldn’t catch my breath and I had to hold onto the side of a building to keep from falling over.”
The timing was horrible, as a week later, Gauthier was scheduled to attend a Northland Wrestling clinic to see if he could make the cut. At that time Gauthier had not realized he had actually suffered a heart attack.
“The day of the clinic came and I happily climbed in the ring and started rolling around and getting body slammed and I was loving every moment of it until it felt like someone hit the back of my left knee,” explained Gauthier.
“I went to take a step and my leg wouldn’t support me and I collapsed. I had torn both my ACL and my LCL.”
That knee injury held him up for almost a year after waiting six months to have the surgery and then laid up for another six months healing from it.
“It was during this time depression set in and I turned to food to try and feel better,” said Gauthier.
He had turned to food and alcohol to cope and ended up gaining lots of weight tipping the scales at over 425 pounds which put additional strain on his knee and his heart.
But that was a downward spiral. My weight quickly ballooned to 430 pounds and the extra weight put additional strain on my heart and my knee.
“I just wanted to escape what had become my reality, being in pain, laying on the couch unable to do anything,” admitted Gauthier.
“That made the problems I was having even worse.”
Then, while starting to get back on his feet, Gauthier suffered another setback. In February of 2019, while helping a friend take care of her mom who was in palliative care, Gauthier suffered his second heart attack.
“I was helping her to the bathroom and she ended up passing out,” recalled Gauthier, who had dropped more than 50 pounds since November of 2018.
“I had to catch her before she hit the floor and it was that which triggered my second heart attack.”
It was shortly after that second heart attack that Northland Wrestling promoter Dann Pigozzo reached out to Gauthier.
“Dann approached me and started working with me to make my childhood dream come true,” said Gauthier.
“He helped motivate and push me to lose the weight I needed to and gave me an added incentive.”
Pigozzo told Gauthier if he could get under 300 pounds, he would train and help his dream of wrestling professionally to come true.
“I now weigh 289 pounds and on August 24 I make my Wrestling debut with Northland Wrestling,” he said.
“I am maybe a little past my prime as a wrestler but I plan on giving them a good run for their money.”
Gauthier hopes a good showing will allow him to become a regular part of Northland Wrestling.
Aside from the wrestling, Gauthier also hopes to continue to train and get fit. He hopes to even get into competitive masters bodybuilding.