Gifted grapplers like Man Mountain Mike and Haystack Calhoun have been so much cheap chopped liver in the ring with Victor the bear.
So yesterday Victor, in Fairfax County for a five-day wrestling exhibition, sat laconically in the back of a green pickup truck, waiting for the amateurs be always beats.
Victor drank grape soda, showing as much concern for the purple liquid dribbling down his fur as for the wrestling challengers he casually whipped later in the afternoon.
Uhmmmm, that's a heavy bear," said a breathless 21-year-old former varsity wrestler at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria. Robert Brown lasted a good minute with the bear.
The bout went like this: Brown approached the bear, grabbed his front paws (which long ago were declawed) and got Victor to stand up to him - bear to man.
Victor's first move was to clamp his jaws around Brown's upper right arm. Victor has almost no teeth, so he does not bite. "He sort of sucks," Brown said later.
Then, locked in the short-lived dance of strength, bear and Brown struggled for advantage. Falling gently on top of Brown while continuing to suck his arm, the bear won.
Victor frequently celebrates a victory by licking his opponents in the face with his long tongue, which is like a red ribbon. Brown escaped the licking.
Yesterday's action occurred in a ring erected between an ice cream shop and a clothing store. The bear, as he has for 12 years, was wrestling in a shopping center - Beacon Mall on Richard Highway.
"He is quite a draw. In fact, he is a record breaker," said Susan Cartwright, general manager of Beacon Mall. She said 1,500 people showed up to catch Victor's exhibition Tuesday night. The bear performs three shows a night through Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.
Victor wrestles under federal and state permits. "Everything's legal," Cartwright said.But there have been complaints from members of the Fairfax County Humane Society. "They're screamed, got hysterical and told us we are disgusting," Cartwright said.
Fairfax County animal control warden John H. Smith said yesterday the bear seems to be well treated, "as well as any person."
Victor, who seemed to relish his wrestling once he got started, was unaware yesterday, as far as anyone could tell that he may never again be allowed to wrestle in FairFax.
The county Board of Supervisors is pondering a new animal control ordinance that will make it illegal for people to make physical contact with wild or exotic animals. Victor, although born in captivity in St. Louis, trained as a wrestler and addicted to grape soda, would be considered a wild animal under the ordinance.
Victor's record with people and with humane societies in other cities (the bear travels 10 months a year) has been exemplary, according to his trainer, "Gorgeous" George Allen.
Allen, clad yesterday in an acetate shirt and double-knit slacks with his bleached blond hair combed back said Victor has never hurt anyone and that Victor does not want to hurt anyone.
The Jefferson County (Ky.) Humane Society last week withdrew it objections to Victor's wrestling, according to a Louisville Courier Journal clipping that Allen carries in his brief case.
"No one is cruel to that bear," said Allen, a former professional wrestler who said he was not the original Gorgeous George. "The name wasn't patented, so I was Gorgeous George the II," Allen said.
Allen, who works for Victor Promotions of Cherokee, N.C., said he has worked with three bears named Victor. The current Victor weighs 650 pounds and stands 8 feet, 3 inches tall.
Victor, an 18-year-old Alaska brown bear, also knows 180 collegiate wrestling moves, Allen said. Allen said Victor could not demonstrate the moves on command, but indicated the bear keeps them tucked away in case they come in handy. "He knows 'em," Allen said.
The moves the bear has demonstrated, when the need arises, include a three-quarter nelson, a front face lock, the guillotine and, of course the Alaskan bear hug.
"We didn't have to teach him that last one," Allen said.