Gary Mungle Jr., bowling

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Just try to relate professional wrestling with bowling. Can you do it? Hardly.

Gary Mungle Jr. and his friends of the Sunday night WWF bowling league seem to have no problem relating the topics. Mungle, 24, and about 30 friends he calls family gather every Sunday night for the WWF league that fills the first eight lanes at West Park Lanes in Cape Girardeau.

"The only rule we have is to have fun," Mungle says. "We are one of the few leagues where you can throw a good ball and walk back and just yell as loud as you want. If you throw a bad ball, the other teams jokingly laugh and make fun of you."

There was no making of Mungle on Sunday. For the first time in his bowling career, which began at age 3, Mungle tossed a 300 game. He came close one time before in a youth league when he bowled a 294 and it came down to the last roll.

"I hung it out there a little bit to much," he says, remembering the moment.

It came down to the last roll once again Sunday. But how do you get past the memory of last time?

"I actually told myself I had to hit it because I was bowling a bad game," he says. I didn't want to think about it, and that was the best way to get it off my mind."

It was the first time anyone bowled a 300 in the WWF, although to Mungle's group, the combination of the sports seems perfect in itself.

"Pretty much everyone out there just loves wrestling," he said.

The league was named after the World Wrestling Federation last year and failed to change the name when the World Wrestling Federation changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment.

"In our hearts it's still the WWF," Mungle says.

In fact, the first year the league was intact, the league champion was presented a WWF bowling ball. This year the championship prize has changed. The winner will receive a ring that looks much like a high-school class ring but bowling-orientated, of course.

When he's not bowling, Mungle spends much of his time with his mother, who is battling health problems, and his 13-month-old son, Devin.

"My mother, I love her to death," Mungle says with a smile. "She helps so much with Devin, too."

Mungle takes Devin to the league with him every Sunday.

"He's out there with me every time," he says. "Everyone out there loves him like we're one big, happy family."

He also spends plenty of hours at the Show Me Center working in the operations and production departments. And when wrestling matches come to town, Mungle is in the right business.

"I got to meet a few of them," he says. "You see them on TV and they seem pretty cocky, but you see them here and you accidentally bumped into them, they're cool about it."

-- David Unterreiner

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