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Carlton Haselrig's certainly had an interesting life. The six-time NCAA Wrestling champion from Johnstown was drafted by the Steelers at the urging of Myron Cope in the 12th round of the 1989 draft despite never playing football in college. By 1992, he was named to the Pro Bowl, and was so talented that in a 2008 article, Ed Bouchette said that Haselrig is "still considered by many as the second-best guard behind Alan Faneca in Steelers history".

So what happened? Like a number of other talented individuals, Haselrig had his demons. He went AWOL from the Steelers several times and battled with drugs and alcohol, leading to his eventual release. In 1995, he landed with the New York Jets, but that was short-lived, due to a one-year suspension as a result of Haselrig violating the league's substance abuse policy. He never played in the NFL again after that. In fact, former Steeler executive Tom Donahoe once told Haselrig, "You're going to wind up dead".

Haselrig has been to jail numerous times for a variety of infractions, including DUI, domestic abuse, probation violation, and riding a motorcycle with his helmet on backward, drunk. He's been in and out of rehab, including the Betty Ford Clinic, since his 20s. Of course, it must be added that Haselrig had what could be described as a very troubled childhood, being left alone with his brother and no parental supervision for a week at age five, and showing up for a football practice at age 12 after being nicked in the leg by a stray bullet.

But Carlton Haselrig may finally have found his life's calling at age 43, as he continues his newest career of mixed martial arts. On Saturday night, he was at Johnstown's War Memorial for his latest bout, which was a victory at the 3:18 mark of Round One against opponent Chris Larkin in front of a spirited home crowd at The Iron Will Fighting Championship. The win raised Haselrig's record to 3-1, and dropped Larkin to 6-6-1.

Our country loves the story of a person overcoming adversity to turn their life around - like Josh Hamilton, for example. But if Haselrig can shed the numerous issues that he's struggled with in his life for good, that's the beginning of a script right out of Hollywood. Or in this case, Johnstown.

VIDEO -- Haselrig wins MMA cage fight at War Memorial [Tribune Democrat]

Haselrig tackling new challenge [Tribune Democrat]

Haselrig going to extreme in fight to turn life around [PG]

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LeeTunnel said...

Yeah. He won. But apparently it was against the Yellow Lollipop Kid that has since grown up.

Louis Lipps Sinks Ships said...

"six-time NCAA Wrestling champion"

Was he in Med School?

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I think he competed in both Div. I and Div. II Nat Champs. b/c he went to UPJ, which was D-II and you were allowed to do both then?

Something along those lines I think I read somewhere.