What does it take to become a nationally recognized wrestler? It requires putting in the extra time on the mat for any wrestler to hone their craft. Unfortunately for many middle and high school aged kids, they do not possess the resources or space needed to maximize their potential. Famed WWE wrestler Chris “Tatanka” Chavis, sees a clear solution to this problem – a youth event center.
“You’d be surprised,” said Chavis, “how many kids have a wrestling mat in their – could be one car garage, could be two car garage and are… trying to get that extra third day, that extra fourth day, because unless you do that, you’re not going to catch up with the kids who are doing four, five days a week… The great ones that we all know about, they will drive an hour and a half or two hours to find that right room or find that great training compound or events center…” If that is the case, where would people need to drive to visit this new building? As Chavis notes, Hernando County lacks a community center that could host larger events such as wrestling tournaments, high school graduations or even speaking engagements. Chavis and county officials have zeroed in on a plot of land on Anderson Snow Road near the Anderson Snow Park as the site for the building.
Chavis, who is a member of the Lumbee tribe of Native Americans and is presently on a legend’s contract with World Wrestling Entertainment, noted that a survey was conducted by the county government regarding Anderson Snow Road. This survey was asking citizens what they would most like to see built in the area. The most common answer among the public was none other than a community event center. A project that has been a long time in the making, Chavis has already had significant discussions with the county about the building. The famous wrestler believes now is the time to “get the ball rolling down the hill.” While the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns stalled progress, meetings will be continuing in the coming months to determine the minutiae of the event center. Chavis detailed that the space needed to contain at least eight full-size, 40 feet by 40 feet wrestling mats and that the talks of the layout initially sized the center at 100,000 square feet.
Chavis has experience wrestling for the WWF – which later became the WWE – since 1990 and helped to plan a project at an event center in conjunction with the Seminole tribe in the St. Petersburg area. The WWE legend is confident that he is the right person to help make this dream a lucrative reality. Chavis is also working on a key piece that could help this new center maintain financial solvency – a private wrestling club.
“A private club’s meaning you’re taking youth kids, middle school kids, and even high school kids after that to national events. Maybe kids that are coming down, kids who are in high school doing extra work in the off-season at a place like that is what I’m trying to say is very valuable, too, especially if you have a really nice event center,” Chavis said.
The Hall of Fame wrestler already has his man to lead the squad in Hernando High School Wrestling Head Coach David Pritz. The Leopards coach has won six district championships, has led his team to be runner-up in regionals multiple times over the last few years, and took eight students to the state finals this season. Two wrestlers of the eight even placed in the tournament with medals. In speaking of Coach Pritz, Chavis remarked how the head man is “waiting patiently, standing by, [and] eager” for the opportunity to coach a private club. The two men are excited to “create a legacy” with this group.
A key cog in this legacy is Chris Chavis’ son, Jeremiah. Like his father, Jeremiah is a member of the Lumbee tribe of North Carolina. He has accrued a multitude of honors including winning four Florida state wrestling championships, being a three-time grand champion, being awarded the silver medal in the Knockout Christmas Classic and being a gold medal qualifier at the Super 32. Assuming the events center is completed in a timely fashion, the 13-year-old Jeremiah will look to compete with Coach Pritz’s club in the future. Between his son’s rising stardom, Coach Pritz’s instruction, and the modern facilities, the WWE Hall of Fame wrestler hopes to provide wrestlers and non-wrestlers with opportunities for fulfillment.
The next piece needed to get this machine moving is a meeting that will take place within the next month between Chavis, his business partner, and the county to begin to finalize the building plans.
“Let’s have an event center that’s a multi-purpose event center. When we have our graduations, we ain’t worried about getting in all the people that you need to get in with family and everybody who wants to come along. So, give a place where people can have fun for our own community, for the whole well-being of our own community.”