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Sunday, September 28, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Spurned By NFL, Josh Wilcox Steps Into Wrestling Ring

AP

PORTLAND - The Dreaded Duck? The Querulous Quacker? How about Wilcox the Warrior?

Nope. As Oregon's colorful former tight end embarks on his career in pro wrestling, he will be "just Josh Wilcox."

"My mom wants me to change it," he said. "But no mask. I'm just going to go out there with my perma-grin on and my Beatles haircut and try to wrestle.

"I think Josh Wilcox might carry a little more clout than if I came out there in a mask and a cape and a G-string bikini. And, yeah, thank God for that."

Wilcox will make his debut Nov. 1 against a yet-to-be-named opponent at the Collector's Market & Sports Arena in north Portland. In the meantime, he is taking lessons from "Tough Tony" Borne and his son, Matt.

"I'm not surprised at all," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "He has talked about that for many, many years. I think he will be excellent in that role because of his personality, because of his tattoos and because of his quotable nature. I want to wish him well. I think he'll take the world by storm."

This was not where Wilcox wanted most to be. After a standout career at Oregon, the son of Dave Wilcox, the ex-San Francisco 49er all-pro linebacker, had wanted to move on to professional football. He signed with the Minnesota Vikings, who switched him to linebacker on the second day of camp, then cut him.

He returned to Oregon disillusioned.

"I was living with my girlfriend in Portland and it was pretty much loserville all over," Wilcox said.

Then Ivan and Jeff Kafoury, who recently resurrected once-popular Portland Wrestling, came to call.

"I think Josh is a natural," Matt Borne said. "He's got it all. He's got athletic ability. He's got charisma. He's got brain smarts. And he's witty. You've got to be able to talk. That's what gets you over in the wrestling business is your schtick."

Wilcox said he has always wanted to be a pro wrestler.

And, he said, "I want to make some money. You've got to live."

Wilcox's agent still tries to get a spot for him in football, perhaps with the Portland Forest Dragons of the Arena Football League or somewhere in the World League.

Meanwhile, he's ready to take on the bad guys in the ring.

"Everybody knows there's a dark cloud over wrestling. It's not thought of as the swiftest of sports," he said. "But if Reggie White, an ordained minister, can participate in it, I sure as hell know I can."

So how would he like his chances against White, Kevin Greene or Dennis Rodman - other athletes who have detoured from their "legitimate" sports for the glittery wrestling world?

"Put them in a cage," Wilcox said. "I'll take them all on."

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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