by Seth Turner, IPWHF President
“Never let anyone define success for you… that’s something you get to do for yourself.” – Mick Foley
I used that quote as the basis for my speech at high school graduation for ten years. Each year, I would personally make it a point to integrate a little bit of professional wrestling into the academic arena. I didn’t do it to have some kind of inside joke or reference to Cactus Jack; I used the quote because it succinctly captures the best advice I can give to young people who are venturing out into the world. Who knew Mankind could be so prolific?
I have served as a school administrator for over twenty years in New York State (more than ten years as superintendent of schools). I have a Masters Degree in Administration and Policy Studies (University at Albany), an Advanced Graduate Degree in School District Leadership (University of Albany), and I am currently completing requirements for a Certificate of Advanced Educational Leadership (Harvard Graduate School of Education). In my career, I have successfully started programs, built facilities, repaired and renovated facilities, and managed systems comprised of many moving parts.
In New York State, a museum such as the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is given a charter by the Board of Regents of the State Education Department. The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is considered an educational institution and therefore must comply with laws and regulations of the Commissioner of Education. These regulations and overarching laws are the same that I have made a career following and implementing.
On July 7, 2019, Tony Vellano, Mike Lanuto, and I met for breakfast in Catskill, NY. Tony mentioned an idea for the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame… but Tony was exhausted from his prior experience. He said he could not take on the responsibility to go through the same process again. We shook hands and left, committing to nothing more than a bit of research. Little did I know that bit of research would consume the next several months of my life.
The process for completing all requirements to obtain a charter took 8-10 weeks of intense work. It entailed writing a charter, constitution, by-laws, collections management policies, financial plans, etc. I recognized that we needed a board of trustees comprised of professionals who have a skill set to make this project successful. By mid-September, we were coordinated and prepared to submit all materials. The next several weeks involved multiple follow-up conversations with representatives from the State Education Department to keep this project on track. There were hurdles along the way, but we maintained the vision to bring this endeavor to fruition. Finally, on December 10, 2019, the Board of Regents took official action to approve the charter for the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.
So, maybe I never was a professional wrestler. Maybe I don’t know a wristlock from a wristwatch. Maybe I don’t know the difference between a hurricanrana and a Frankensteiner. But at least I know how to run a building, I know how to run a program, I know how to coordinate. I have a clear vision of what this institution can become, and how to achieve it. These are the skills that are going to be required to make the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame the gold standard.
Some might feel that other qualifications are needed to provide legitimacy to the leadership of the IPWHF. One other person knows the effort it took to get to this point: Tony Vellano. I mentioned previously that during our meeting in July, Tony seemed exhausted from the concept of a Hall of Fame. Now, he is on fire. He continued to tell me that he would only commit to providing advice; now he is scheduling fundraising events and working on this almost full time. It is awesome to see. In fact, the synergy of the entire group of individuals who are now stepping up to support the IPWHF is unreal.
Together, we will build the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame… and we will not let anyone else define success for us.
Seth Turner is President of the IPWHF