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Enjoying the game… Bart Lyon an asset to the community

BY CY PETERS
To be a professional wrestler you have to be in the best shape you can be. Able to endure pain, take falls, crowd abuse, and have good health insurance.
To be a good official in any game you referee, you have to study the rules, know the game, be in the best shape you can and be ready for a lot of abuse from the fans.
This past Saturday night Bart Lyon, a Johnson City native who has been a TSSAA official for decades, took a look at another sport to officiate.
Lyon, who already has officiated basketball games, football, softball, and baseball, stepped into the 16×16 ring as a professional wrestling referee.
When the promoter was one ref short for the upcoming event, match promoter Kim Birchfield gave Lyon a call and ask him to help out. Lyon, who is a big asset to the area, helps kids daily.
He was over the Legion street park and rec until its closure and had booked professional wrestling at the rec for years. He had met and talked with all the big-name wrestlers and was familiar with the surroundings.
In years before TSSAA officials, Ron Hodge and Tommy Luttrell had filled in as referees for matches and it worked out great. Hodge became a fan favorite and worked professional wrestling for many years and was scheduled for this year’s event, but an injury at work prevented him from taking the ring.
It was Lyon’s big night, a sold-out ringside crowd and nearly 1000 fans jammed the Elizabethton High School gymnasium for the four-hour event.
Adam Buckles who proved he was the best ring announcer in the business excited the crowd and had them fired up with the start of every match with his golden voice.
Just like throwing Brer Rabbit into the briar patch, Bart Lyon was as home as he could be.
Lyon was checking the wrestlers for foreign objects, he was on the mat as soon as one was down for the count, and he kept the managers in their place.
He took control of the match, kept it clean, and worked one of the best matches of the night.
“It was a much-needed event for our area,” stated Lyon. “A good rowdy crowd that was loud and fired up. The Promoters brought in some of the best Pro Wrestlers in the Southern Territory.
“For me (making my first pro wrestling debut) It was an eye-opener. The Wrestlers are tough as nails and they all worked hard to make sure they put on a good event. It was a fun night. A really good family event.”
Lyon hopes to return as the main event referee in October when Rasslin’ returns to Elizabethton High.