The public war of words between Kamala and Dawn Marie over Wrestlers Rescue doesn’t surprise me. Pro wrestling has always been built on fooling the public for profit so the idea that anything charitable in this business would come without controversy is expected.
1980s pro wrestling star James Harris otherwise known to most of us as the spear carrying Kamala is in rough shape. Harris had severe complications from diabetes over the last few years, including having his leg amputated. Harris and his family have fallen on tough times and was the source of several benefits in recent months…or not.
Harris posted a video in which he heavily criticized charitable efforts on his behalf. Harris points specifically to a wrestling promoter in Boston and former WWE Diva Dawn Marie as two people who allegedly accepted donations for Harris yet never sent him a penny. Marie’s Wrestlers Rescue is not immune to this type of criticism, as they have come under fire for shady tactics in the past.
[adinserter block=”2″]Both the promoter from Boston and Dawn Marie have publicly reputed those allegations from Harris. Both have taken to the Internet to explain their sides of the story, which include sending Kamala money. Marie in particular and her agent have used extensive social media posts to fight back these charges, including the former WWE and ECW Diva posting a video over the weekend.
Wrestlers Rescue began advertising a campaign to raise money for Kamala in June. Marie claims that they sent Kamala a check that he returned without cashing it. Marie has still offered to send Kamala the money if he would take it. According to Marie’s agent, Kamala turned down the check because it wasn’t sent fast enough and called him a liar. It always rubs me the wrong way when someone a “charitable humanitarian” responds to criticism with arrogance as opposed to the compassion they should be defending.
There have also been other accusations made towards Wrestlers Rescue over the last week. One is that Wrestlers Rescue offered to pay for former ECW champion Jerry Lynn’s back surgery and never sent him any money. Marie also addressed that in a video. She claims that she received memorabilia (Wrestlers Rescue asks pro wrestlers to send in signed memorabilia which they can auction off for their charity) but never collected money for any of it after receiving “bad publicity.” She has kept those items for a future fundraiser.
So who is telling the truth? Would a man with amputated limbs and desperate for money actually send a check back because it wasn’t sent fast enough? Would a charity blatantly use a destitute pro wrestler to raise money for its own personal gain? What in the world is going on here?
I have a few thoughts on it so here we go. One, I find it incredibly hard to believe that Kamala is sending money back to anyone without a reason. Here is a man begging for help online and yet he is going to send back a check for $500 because it didn’t come fast enough? I just find that incredibly hard to believe. There is a dramatic scene in Dawn’s video of her opening the envelope, yet claimed not to know the returned check was in the envelope.
Two, Wrestlers Rescue lost a lot of credibility here after hearing Dawn’s rebuttal to the Jerry Lynn controversy. So she accepted items to be auctioned for charity but never went through with the charity because she was getting bad publicity…about her charity? Additionally, the idea that she is still holding on to these items for a “future” charity is just ridiculous. Why didn’t she send the items back? Why is she still holding on to these items two years later? These items sent in were for Jerry Lynn presumably, not some “future” charity. To me, this kind of logic sheds a lot of light on what is going on here.
What always bothered me about Wrestler’s Rescue is that it was run by one person. This kind of charitable organization needs to have a public board of directors, a committee, someone other than Dawn Marie or any one person handling everything. The idea behind Wrestler’s Rescue is fantastic, but the execution is the problem. I am not accusing anyone of anything here, but there is no transparency that I can see. Imagine how much easier this would be to defend if you had a board of directors or committee that could verify the story of the returned check?
I never liked the idea altogether of pro wrestling charities. Rarely are they set up with the right governance or paper work involved to legally register with the United States. The idea of a charity without governance or legal registration taking money from anyone is shady. If someone isn’t going to go through the work to get the proper registration, than it probably isn’t worthwhile to begin with.
[adinserter block=”2″]I had my experience once with a wrestling charity. One of the first blogs I wrote at http://phillyburbs.com in 2007 was about a professional wrestler asking the fans for charity after years of drug and financial abuse. I called the blog, “Fleecing the fans”. I received about a dozen nice emails from friends of mine in the industry who applauded me for what I wrote. Unfortunately the organizers didn’t see it the same way. One organizer was a longtime friend (I had no idea she was even involved) and she never spoke to me again after my blog. The other actually flooded my mailbox with all kinds of physical threats. Yep, this wonderful humanitarian was now ready to break my legs for questioning the honesty of his charity.
If you want to donate money or items to anyone, send it to them yourself. Don’t rely on some middleman charity to hand over your money and same goes for the wrestler or beneficiary. It’s 2012 is easy to create a website, post a video on You Tube, and open up a Pay Pal account. Remember, you are relying on people involved in a carnival business to honestly pass your cash or memorabilia on to the needy.
And something just doesn’t sound right about that.
Update: I actually received an email from a credible source that has worked with both Kamala and Dawn and has heard both sides. Here is the explanation I received about the mess.
“I talk to Dawn and Kamala every couple of days and here’s what happened: Dawn raised the money (many ppl actually sent her checks for $2-$5) and she had to wait for those checks to clear. She also didn’t want to send him small-dollar, incremental checks. Instead of telling Kamala that, she told him she sent the money a good week and half before she actually did. That’s what got Kamala pi$$ed off and so he returned the check; because he felt he’d been lied to, not because it didn’t arrive in a timely manner.”
Update: I received the following email from someone who claims to be associated with the charity today.
“I see, that would be different if you were a fan on a social media like Facebook or Twitter, but you are a journalist on a news website, so people are looking up to you to post facts. You either change your story with the truth, or remove any post you have on your website regarding Dawn Marie or Wrestlers Rescue or we will be forced to sue you for slander. Your choice sir ? We already printed your statements on your website as proof for slander. So I am asking you very nicely to change the news to facts, or remove it completely before we take you to court…..thank you.”
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