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Bond of brothers keeps tight grip on wrestling fans

Siblings savor charity matches

  • plocek-wrestler-table

    Ed Plocek, left, and brother Tony stop by wrestler Rhino's table at Springfield High School. At right is Lindsay Christie of the Crissey Elementary Parent Club.

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  • wrestling-Springfield-High-Ed-Plocek-Tony-Plocek

    Ed Plocek, left, and brother Tony Plocek shout encouragement and instructions during a wrestling match at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio.

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  • Plocek-brothers-cover

    Ed Plocek, left, and his brother Tony Plocek

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  • Bond-of-brothers-keeps-tight-grip-on-wrestling-fans

    Tony Plocek shakes hands with wrestler The Paul Bearer at the benefit wrestling show at Springfield High School. Tony's brother Ed is second from left.

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plocek-wrestler-table

Ed Plocek, left, and brother Tony stop by wrestler Rhino's table at Springfield High School. At right is Lindsay Christie of the Crissey Elementary Parent Club.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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Ed Plocek worries about his younger brother.

Tony Plocek, 46, who has had health problems most of his life, no longer moves as easily as he once did and walks with a cane. He tires easily, taking naps in the afternoon.

The Toledo resident was placed on a list for a kidney transplant -- which would be his second -- and is trying to lose weight for the surgery, whenever it will be. Last year, Tony, who also has been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, had four stents put in his arteries.

But even with the health problems, Tony, who has Down syndrome, doesn't lose his optimism.

He loves singing Elvis Presley songs and idolizes the King, hanging pictures of the singer in his room.

wrestling-Springfield-High-Ed-Plocek-Tony-Plocek

Ed Plocek, left, and brother Tony Plocek shout encouragement and instructions during a wrestling match at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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At family gatherings, Tony is known as the entertainer, the last one to leave the dance floor, the first one to give usually very blunt advice about his relatives' problems.

They love it.

"He got a wit that's just unique. He's always got something to say," said Ed, 49, of Maumee.

Tony is also a natural flirt, asking strangers to marry him and giving out business cards with his phone number.

His closest friends are his family members.

Just as when they were kids, Ed looks out for Tony.

They go on shopping trips to Wal-mart to buy more watches for Tony's collection and to the bowling alley on Saturdays to watch Ed's children compete.

Recently, Ed made a list of things to do, a bucket list for his brother. Ride a Zamboni at a Toledo Walleye hockey game (check). Throw the first pitch during a Toledo Mud Hens game (check). Go to a wrestling show, which the brothers did together Saturday.

"While this window is here, while he can still walk, while his heart is still good, these are all the things I want to try and do," said Ed, director of business development at Heritage Health Care Services in Toledo.

"So that when he's not able to leave the house anymore, he can look back at all different memories, all these things I can show the pictures of, and we can laugh about.

"I like to see him laugh. I like to see him smile."

Bond-of-brothers-keeps-tight-grip-on-wrestling-fans

Tony Plocek shakes hands with wrestler The Paul Bearer at the benefit wrestling show at Springfield High School. Tony's brother Ed is second from left.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
Enlarge | Buy This Image

On Saturday evening, Tony had some choices to make on what to wear to the wrestling show, a fund-raiser held at Springfield High School in Holland for the Crissey Elementary School Parent Club.

Should he wear his fedora?

"I look like Cary Grant," Tony said confidently.

"You look like Danny DeVito. Who are you kidding?" Ed teased him.

Tony has always loved wrestling, his mother said. He wrestled in Special Olympics until he had heart problems, and now he watches it on television at home with his parents, Janet, 68, a retired secretary, and Ed, 73, a retired salesman. (Tony and Ed's younger brother, Paul, is a doctor stationed with the Air Force in Germany.)

Tony rattled off his favorite wrestlers' names -- John Cena, Andre the Giant, Junkyard Dog, Hulk Hogan. "Too many people," he said.

Tony, who works at Lott Industries Inc., a job shop for people with developmental disabilities, said he likes wrestling because it makes him feel good. "I like a lot of action," he said.

"But No. 1, I love my brother. … He is very good to me."

Tony and Ed arrived early at "Blue Devil Mania 2011" and got autographs from the wrestlers -- heavily muscled men, some with slicked-back ponytails, and one in a green wig and clown makeup.

Tony asked them for their autographs and offered strategy advice. He suggested a good Three Stooges move: trip the opponent in the ring.

"I used to be a wrestler," Tony told Dick Foley, one of the competitors in the Championship International Wrestling circuit. "I'm good."

While they waited for the show to start, Ed and Tony practiced their blood brothers' handshake and took photographs.

The CIW didn't feel like the big-time professional wrestling.

Elementary school teachers were recruited last-minute to sing the "The Star-Spangled Banner." The wrestling ring seemed small in the middle of the high school basketball court. One of the wrestlers was dressed as an Amish man, another as a monkey complete with a tail.

But none of this seemed to bother Tony. He was delighted by it all.

He applauded. He wagged his finger at the ring. He fist-pumped. He shook his head to the music when the wrestlers came out. He laughed at a groin kick.

"In your face!" he shouted as one wrestler defeated a villain dressed in purple spandex and white lace-up boots.

Other times, he leaned against Ed and quietly watched the action.

Tony plans to hang up his autographed T-shirt in his bedroom, with all the Elvis posters, undoubtedly so he can remember the night.

Contact Gabrielle Russon at: grusson@theblade.com or 419-724-6026.

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