Fans know him as Kane.
The 7-foot-tall superstar wrestler, a fan favorite for decades, weighs more than 300 pounds. His official biography on the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) website describes him as a “monstrous abomination that seems to have been extracted directly from your childhood nightmares,” who is “consumed by an infernal desire to set ablaze the lives of his fellow Superstars.”
With long, stringy hair falling out behind a “ghoulish face mask,” an ever-present look of anger etched onto his jaw and a penchant for viciousness in the wrestling ring, that assessment seems spot-on.
Friends, though, know him as Glenn Jacobs, the owner of Jacobs Insurance Associates in Knoxville, Tenn.
To paraphrase Walt Whitman, Jacobs is large, and he contains multitudes.
On Tuesday, dressed not in his usual Spandex but in a blue suit and yellow tie, Jacobs officially announced his candidacy for mayor of Tennessee’s Knox County, which includes Knoxville and its suburban sprawl. He is running as a Republican.
“For the past 22 years, I’ve had the pleasure of living here in East Tennessee,” Jacobs said during the announcement. “Because my career with WWE has taken me all around the world on a weekly basis, my family and I could live pretty much anywhere in the U.S. that we wanted. We live here because want to live here — because we love it here.”
As a wrestler, Jacobs’s character, Kane, was known as a “sadistic” wrestler who finished off opponents with the brutal tombstone piledriver, in which he placed his opponent onto his shoulder, then slid “the wrestler down into position, upside-down, before dropping his knees to the mat, sending the opponent’s unprotected head bouncing off the floor below,” as one blogger described it.
As a mayoral candidate, Jacobs seemed focused on the Republican ideals of small business and small government.
“I want to do my part to make sure that it remains a great place and that our future’s brighter than ever,” he said. “I’ll work hard to make Knox County a place that is attractive for new businesses as well as a place that existing businesses can continue to grow, thrive and flourish.”
He concluded the announcement by invoking Ronald Reagan.
“As mayor, I will work harder than anyone to keep taxes low, to eliminate waste, to reduce red tape, and to make sure that Knox County is a place that all of us are proud to call home,” he said. “Ronald Reagan referred to America as the ‘shining city upon a hill.’ I think Knox County can be just that, an example to the rest of a beacon of light shining not on me or any elected official but on all of you and our wonderful community.”
When originally filing paperwork for his mayoral run, Jacobs told the Knoxville News Sentinel his background as a wrestler could be useful while campaigning.
“I have an inherent understanding because of WWE … of how a campaign works, and some of the things I would do would be unique and different,” he said. “Millennials are now nearly as big a voting bloc as baby boomers. I think I’ll be able to reach a much wider audience that others might not be able to reach.”
He has previously used his wrestling persona to help the citizens of Knox County. As part of the Kindness Revolution, an anti-bullying campaign that focuses on performing acts of kindness, he visited local schools to share his own, unexpected stories of being picked on.
“I was the tall, gangly kid, awkward and wasn’t good at sports yet. So I was a natural target for bullies,” he told WVLT. “It’s funny now, cause people say what would you do if you went back and I’m like, nothing, I’d just feel sorry for the bullies.”
It is unclear if he would stop wrestling. As one wrestling blogger wrote last week, “injuries have slowed him down in recent years and he has not appeared on WWE TV since November so his full-time days are likely over. If he runs for mayor then this may close the door on his in-ring career.”
Jacobs wouldn’t be the first wrestler to attempt a transition to politics.
Jerry “The King” Lawler made an unsuccessful bid for mayor of Memphis. Jesse Ventura, meanwhile, successfully switched from wrestling to politics, becoming the mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minn., and eventually the governor of Minnesota.
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