Hi, I'm Joanne Vichner, Memaw with It's Storytime Memaw, an answered prayer for stories that point children to God on the Truth Network for kids. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Enjoy it, share it. But most of all, thank you for listening to the Truth Podcast Network. This is the Truth Network. My first ever Holy Land Tour.
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Go to NikitaKoloff.com and get registered today for the Holy Land Tour. Ladies and gentlemen, the following contest is set for one flaw. Introducing first, from Lithuania, he weighs 123 kilos, the Russian nightmare, Nikita Koloff. Now, the Devil's Nightmare. Welcome back to another episode of It's Time to Man Up. I'm excited today to have Steve Hendrick on the phone with us, calling in and sharing some of his story. Steve, first of all, welcome to the Man Up show.
Thanks, I really appreciate it. Looking forward to having this talk with you today. Well, it's great to have you on the show, Steve. And I know from looking back at prior communication between you and I, we spoke at actually Road Warrior Animal's funeral, right?
Yeah, a couple years ago. A sad time to see each other, but good conversations come out of negative consequences sometimes. Well, you know, it's interesting you say that. I like to tell people that if you hang around me any amount of time, you're going to find that I guess I call myself the eternal optimist. In other words, you bring me a black cloud and somehow, someway, I'm going to do my best to find a silver lining in there somewhere. So, you know, we connected at an unfortunate setting as a funeral, but out of that came some very positive things, which has led to this conversation today, right? Yeah, you know, it was a very unfortunate situation, but I, you know, I feel the same way you do. I like turning in a gray cloud into the silver cloud.
I like that, yep. And you know, so what's interesting is, to me, when I think about Animal's funeral, for the wrestling fans out there thinking about, you know, his passing, but he really makes me, Steve, he makes me think of, there's a scripture that immediately comes to mind, and that is, there's no promise of tomorrow. And by that, I mean, I remember just about ten days prior to his passing, which was very unexpected. In fact, it happened, he was celebrating an anniversary, literally on his anniversary day, celebrating in the Ozarks with his wife. He, unfortunately, leaves Planet Earth on his way to the streets of gold, but that said, it was very unexpected, and only ten days prior, his wife had reached out to me and said, hey, would you do a happy birthday video, which I did, and for those who don't know, maybe many do, but some don't, you know, my friendship with Animal went all the way back to college when I recruited him out of Irondale High School in New Brighton, Minnesota, to play college football with me, and we had an instant connection.
I fell in love with his family, his dad, Joe Sr., his mom, Lorna, who both are no longer with us as well, his brothers, Johnny, Johnny who would go on to be Johnny Ace, and has worked many, many years with WWE, and of course, his brother Mark, who also spent time in professional wrestling, so the whole family. All that to say, no promise of tomorrow, is there, Steve? No, sir, definitely no problem, you know, but I do have to say I'm jealous of the man, he's walking the streets of gold today. Well, one day, for all of us who are Christ followers, and I emphasize, I didn't say believers, there's a lot of people who say, oh, I believe in God, well, so do the demons.
They tremble, they got more sense than we do, I think, but that said, those who are followers of Christ, true followers of Christ, will one day get to experience that very same thing. But, hey, let's do this, Steve, for our listening audience, for those who are tuning in, let's share a little back story, a little backdrop on Steve Hendrick. Where do you reside? Where do you live, Steve? Well, I'm 40 years old, I reside in a very, very small town in Indiana called Fairmount, Indiana. Fairmount, Indiana, okay. Yeah, we're a town of 2,700.
That is a small town. Are you a Hoosier fan, or who do you cheer for up there? You know, I gotta say, I like Purdue.
Lafayette with Purdue is only about a good hour, 15-minute drive to the west. Okay, the Boilermakers. Yeah, Boiler up.
Boiler up! Well, you know, being a Siberia, you know, Minnesota guy, you know, from Moscow, Minnesota, ha ha ha, you know, of course I'm very familiar with the Big Ten, which, I don't know about you, Steve, but it's kind of ironic that the Big Ten's no longer ten anymore, it's like 14 or 16. I'm like, should it be like the Big Fourteen? Anyway, they brought on all these other teams, right?
But that said, keep going. So you're a small town Indiana, and what keeps you busy up there? Yeah, I mean, small town Indiana, I mean, a lot of people don't realize that Jim Davis, the creator at Garfield, and James Dean, the movie star from the 1950s, are both from my town. Whoa, cool! So, we have a big festival for them. Actually, I serve as a vice president on my town board.
Okay. And it keeps me busy, and I work with an organization that's a little independent wrestling organization. We do some things with that, and that keeps me busy. And I've got a 15-year-old daughter that keeps me on my toes.
Well, they will. A child will keep us on our toes, and especially a 15-year-old, as we say, a teenager. And so you've got to just—what's her name? Her name is Chloe. Chloe.
And so when you say she keeps you on your toes, give us a little description of that. In what way? Well, it's all about the boys right now. Okay. You know, it's about the boys, or it's, Dad, I'm ready to start driving. Yeah. Or, hey, Dad, I need this, or Dad, I need that.
Oh, yeah. I'm chuckling because, of course, I raised four girls. And so I certainly understand what you're talking about, especially at that age. Now, do you spend—do you have dad-daughter dates with her?
I do. Growing up, it was real hard. I came from a bad situation. So I made the commitment to myself the day she was born. I said, I will never leave nor forsake you, and I will always be there for you. Wow.
So I have always taken that time for my daughter. Well, it's so important, and that's great that you made that commitment. Would you mind sharing a little bit? You say you came up from a tough situation. Do you want to share any of that for our listeners? Sure. There may be some out there that might relate.
Yeah. When I was 10 years old, my mother and stepfather actually split up. You know, it was an unfortunate circumstance, but I tried to stay neutral in the situation. I ended up—my mom ended up basically abandoned me growing up with some friends because she chose her new boyfriend over me. She ended up picking me up from their house, ended up taking me to Tennessee, and I lived with my aunt and my grandfather.
While I was there, I found out later on that she was going around telling everybody back here in Indiana that I had passed away in a car accident. Oh, my. Okay. So, you know, some family here found out that wasn't true.
I ended up moving in with my biological grandfather at the age of 11, and I had such a hard time dealing with things, I turned to drugs and alcohol. Okay. I'll be honest with you. You know, I thought that was the easy way out.
You know, I thought that was my escape. Right. There was no big deal for me. 13 years old, sitting in shop class, to have a 20-ounce Coke bottle in front of me that would actually be filled three-quarters of the way up with winter, and the rest would be Coke, and I would sit there being intoxicated in class. Age 13. Yes. Wow. At 13.
Okay. I decided, you know, I wasn't going to stop there. I started getting mixed up into some drugs and fell into the wrong crowd.
When I was 14 years old, I thought my best friend was 28 years old. I ended up going through some situations, you know, that I choose not to try to relive, but I got myself in trouble, you know, sometimes with the police and been arrested. You know, before I was 16 years old, I was arrested 19 times.
Wow. Finally, they put me in a children's home, and I got put in a children's home, and I remember the judge said, you need to be back with your mother. So they put me back in place with my mother, and I stayed there until I was about 17. I decided at 17 I needed to, you know, get my head on a little bit straighter, and I graduated high school. So I graduated high school, but I still just, I couldn't get out of those past lives, you know. I still thought I still needed to drink to deal with everything that ever happened. I was about 24 years old, and I went to a wrestling show that's about 20 minutes to the west of me.
And you, Nikita, were actually there at this wrestling show. Okay. You got in a ring, and you gave a testimony, and you were talking about how the Lord Jesus Christ has worked through you and what he's done for you. And I thought about that the whole way home, and I thought to myself, I want some of that. This guy has what I want. And me being the life of crime and the druggie and the drunk, it was just natural for me to want what other people had.
Okay. And I came home, and I dropped to my knees. And I said, Lord, I can't do it no more. I'm going to die.
I know what's going to happen to me. And I begged for his forgiveness, and I begged for him to come back into my heart and relive again and give me a new life. And by the grace of God, I sit here talking to you today knowing that I have been clean and sober for 15 years. Come on.
Come on. That I have been the best father that I can be to my child. I've been the best friends to my friends. And I could not have done it without hearing your story that led me to Jesus Christ.
Wow. And today I go out there, and I spread the word like you did for me. I'm eternally grateful for that wrestling promoter that brought you in and for you to get in the middle of that squared circle and share your story. Well, let's just pause right there for a moment because, man, you gave our listeners a lot to think about. And I'm certainly humbled to be reminded of that story, Steve, and how my story was able to impact your life in such a profound way. A couple things I want to address. One, you said a very critical word when you were talking about your drinking and your drug use and that sort of thing. And it was the word escape.
Escape. Because I talk about this in, you know, we do these, I do these conferences called Man Up Conference and talk about being, you know, healthy. These conferences come into local church communities and usually on a Saturday. And I talk about, to the man, I talk about being healthy, you know, of course physically. It's important, right?
We all know that. Spiritually, that's critical. Emotionally, mentally, and just kind of hone in on that. But during the course of that conference, I talk about how people will escape. What you just said, escape reality or not want to deal with their past pains. And, man, just what you shared about your childhood, the abandonment.
I mean, another key word that somebody out there is probably relating to right now, thinking, man, I get it. I can identify. I feel, I have felt abandoned, whether it's by a parent or a loved one, a spouse or someone else. My mom. My mom was given up by her mom, handed over to her aunt, Steve, at a very, very young age. And she felt, she lived to be 93, but I know that I know she dealt with abandonment her whole entire life. My dad would leave her when I was about three years old.
And just once again, she felt that abandonment, right? And so there are people out there that's going to be able to relate to that part of your story. And then the drugs and the alcohol, not wanting to deal with their pains or not wanting to deal with their issues of life. And they escape, whether it's drugs, as you said, alcohol, I know plenty of stories. They escape into pornography. They escape, some escape into the work life.
They just work more hours. They escape, I mean, some go to the gym and just put more hours in the gym. So there's a variety of ways that people escape from the pains of life and where they've been wounded in life. But when you're willing to address it, you said, you gave the key to anyone listening out there, as you're listening to Steve's story.
And you can identify with any of these things. Steve gave the key to being set free. So freedom is a key word here in our conversation. And then the process of healing beginning from any of your past hurts and wounds. And that is what Steve did, fell to his knees and asked Jesus into his heart. And that was a, correct me if I'm wrong, Steve, that was a transformational moment for you at age 24, 24, 25, right?
Yes, sir. It completely changed my life. You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. Nikita Kolof here, and I am excited. Did you hear the huge announcement, the big announcement?
Well, maybe it's a minor announcement. Anyway, Facebook, go look up my new fan page, Nikita Kolof Fans, and like it and follow today. If you would like to support Kolof for Christ Ministries, for a gift of $25, Nikita will send you his two CDs, Adoration and Declaration. For a gift of $50, Nikita will include his book, Wrestling with Success. And for a gift of $100 or more, Nikita will include a signed copy of his newly updated life story, A Tale of the Ring and Redemption.
Go to www.kolof.net and donate today. You're listening to the Truth Network and truthnetwork.com. Yeah, as it does, and as it did mine, 17 October 1993, when I got on my knees. And for me, I was at an altar. Were you in a church, Steve, or you just went home? You said you went home, right? Just in your bedroom?
Where did that happen? Yeah, I walked in my front door and I just walked into my bedroom and I just knew it was time. I just dropped at my knees in my bedroom and I threw my hands up and I just put my head down on my bed and I just prayed. Cried out to God.
And that brings up an interesting point as well, is you don't have to be in a church service. For me, it was a church service where I went to the altar for you. Your bedroom, your bed became the altar. You got on your knees and threw your hands up in the air and cried out to God. And of course, he heard your cry and he came, as Jesus says in the scriptures, open your heart to me and I will come and make my home with you.
I will come and dwell in you and live in you. And for those who have made that decision, genuine decision, and encountered Christ, life is never the same. And here you are, 15 plus years later now, got a beautiful daughter, Chloe, and a great relationship, it sounds like, with her. And you've been clean and set free from those different addictions and sound like doing some other incredible things there in your community. So tell us just a little bit more about that. I know you kind of touched on some of the things you're doing. And you said James Dean, the legendary James Dean was from your hometown?
Yes sir. The legendary James Dean, a lot of people don't realize, he actually went to high school here. He was raised here in town, just a little farmhouse about half a mile from me by his aunt and his uncle. Went to school here, they started a huge festival in his honor here. We get, you know, our little town, 2700 people turns into a town of 50-60,000 people the last three days of September every year.
Wow, wow. So for those listening, if you're a James Dean fan, you better mark down on the calendar Indiana end of September if you want to go celebrate the infamous legendary James Dean. And then you said too, Garfield, the creator of Garfield. Yeah, Jim Davis actually is from Fairmount as well, he went to the old Fairmount High School.
Every so often, you know, nice summer days, you can walk uptown and you'll actually see him in town just walking down the sidewalk. Okay. You know, just run of the mill, just like you and I. That's pretty cool. Well, this is just a random thought, but I'm thinking James Dean and Jim Davis, like is there something about like Jims and James and Deans and Davises there in your town apparently, but that's a random thought.
Dismiss that, okay? And so what kind of three-day festival simultaneous for both of those guys or separate festivals? Yeah, it's the same festival, simultaneous, we call it Fairmount Historical Museum Days, Remembering James Dean. You know, a lot of people come in, we have James Dean Gallery here, which has the largest collection of James Dean memorabilia in the world. We have a Fairmount Historical Museum that has information about Jim Davis and Garfield, they have some of James Deeds personal artifacts. We've had probably about six or seven notable people from Fairmount that have actually went on to big and bright things. We had a guy that was the director of the National Hurricane Center.
We had a gentleman that was a war correspondent years ago on 60 Minutes and 48 Hours. Now who would have thought, Fairmount, Indiana, who would have thought, it just goes to show that small town America can produce some very big things, huh? Yes sir, and that's one thing that humbles me being on our town board is growing up, as I stated, had that life of crime and drinking and drugging and going through the things that I went through. And then serving now the people of the town is just, it's very humbling to me that they bestowed that honor upon me.
Yeah, for real. I mean, Steve, it's such a great story of redemption. I mean, really what you're speaking of is a story of redemption that, and we just, you touched on the crime part of it too. I mean, you said arrested 19 times before you were age 16, right? Yes sir.
And yet here you are on your town board and they've embraced you and what an incredible story of redemption. Let me ask you too, so you come to this wrestling event, I mean, were you, I guess you had been a wrestling fan, obviously, is that what prompted you to go to this particular show? Actually, yeah. Growing up, I was real big.
I remember as far back as I can remember, five, six years old, sitting in a living room, my grandfather's living room, just laying on the floor, myself and my two step brothers. And one of my step brothers always wanted to be road warrior animal. Okay. And there I was actually wrestling him as you. Oh no, come on. I used to say I was the Russian nightmare all the time growing up.
Come on, keep going. And we would get in these flights in the living room and my grandfather would be like, you two better stop it. And he would separate us and we would be like, we're just playing. And we would recruit our neighbors to come in. So then we would become the Legion of Doom and I would have what my older brother was always taller, so he said, I'm Sting because I'm the bald headed guy.
Okay. And then the neighbor would be like, well, if you're Sting, then I'm Nikita. And it just, it went on for years. That's awesome. Did you guys ever break any, break any furniture? Well, we did break the neighbor's deck. The neighbor's deck, okay. Yeah, we used to act like we were swinging each other into the ropes. And I remember my brother was a little heavier, God rest his soul. And we swung him, what we said was the ropes was the edge of the deck outside.
Like the railings. He hit us right and snapped it, yeah. Oh no. Oh, what a great, that's a great story, man. That is one of the best I've heard, I want to tell you, in a long, long time. And the irony, the irony that one was Animal, one was Nikita, you know, just feel, again, a little of the backstory, right? Me literally recruiting Animal out of high school and us becoming, he and I becoming the best of friends, you know? And so what an amazing story, man.
That's incredible. And so you were a long time wrestling fans, the neighbors, the neighborhood followed it and you heard I was in town. And I'm guessing, is that part of the reason you, because you heard I was on the show?
Yeah. Yeah, actually I remember I seen a flyer hanging up and it said you were in town and I was like, man, I got to go see this. There's no way this is the legendary Nikita Kolob. I remember wrestling Nikita Kolob as a kid when it was my brother. I got to go see this guy.
Wow. And I remember I walked in, it was a place called Borderman Gymnasium in a town of Converse, Indiana. And there it was, you stood right there. You even autographed me a picture and when you gave me that autograph, I remember I cried. And I was just so ecstatic. I was like, wow, that's one of my childhood heroes. And then, you know, saying the prayer with you then, and then praying when I got home that day and then praying with you again at Road Warrior Animal's funeral, it kind of came back full circle. Wow. That's incredible. We want to thank you for being, tuning in and listening to The Man Up Show and look forward to bringing another great interview to you next time.
God bless you. If you are enjoying The Man Up Show, would you help us spread the word? Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors to download, subscribe, and leave a comment. Nikita Koloff here.
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