Where Are They Now? Skinner

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May 29, 2012

Skinner takes on Max Moon

When WWE.com recently caught up with Steve Keirn, the wrestler once known as Skinner had to put our conversation off for a little while. He was in the middle of one of his proudest moments.

“How often do you get to see your son graduate and become a doctor?” he told WWE.com after the University of Central Florida’s graduation ceremony. His son, Cory, received his doctorate in physical therapy. After the tassels were turned and degrees distributed, Keirn hit the road, heading back to his hometown of Tampa, Fla., back to his own group of eager students.

His classroom isn’t a lecture hall or laboratory, but rather the squared circle. Keirn is the president of Florida Championship Wrestling, the developmental territory of WWE. Along with a staff of experienced coaches, he’s in charge of preparing the Superstars and Divas of the future.

For the 60 year-old, it’s one of the biggest jobs he’s held in a sports-entertainment career that began when he was 13. (CLASSIC PHOTOS)

Keirn grew up in Tampa with a group of children who would go on to enter the world of professional wrestling, including the legendary Hulk Hogan. One friendship, though, changed his life.

“I made real good friends with a kid named Mike Graham,” he explained. Mike’s father was WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Graham, the longtime promoter of Championship Wrestling from Florida, the territory that flourished with stars like Dusty Rhodes and Kevin Sullivan while Gordon Solie calmly called the action.

Keirn’s relationship with the Grahams was strong, which was helpful during a tough time.

When Steve was 13, his father, Richard, a pilot in the Air Force, was shot down in Vietnam. “From the time I was 13 until I was 21, my dad was a prisoner of war,” Keirn explained to WWE.com. He had also been taken prisoner during World War II.

During the eight-year stretch when his father was in Vietnam, Keirn grew close with Eddie Graham, which led him to his eventual career path.

“Eddie Graham kind of helped father me along, and in doing so, I fell in love with the wrestling business and the wrestlers, and I just started blending in,” Keirn said. “From 13 on, I made up my mind: that was what I was going to do.

Keirn spent his teenage years selling soda and popcorn at shows, watching some of the greatest wrestlers in history ply their craft inside the ring. “There were so many tremendous wrestlers at the time that were so influential,” he explained. “Eddie Graham, Hiro Matsuda and Don Curtis.”

One, however, stood out to him.

“Jack Brisco was my idol.”

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