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Johnny Matos

My life changed forever in 2002.

That was when I saw my first live gator wrestling show!!

I was visiting family in Florida that summer (I was born in Manhattan and grew up in New Jersey), and they told me to go to a reptile park in Orlando. As a kid, I had ALWAYS loved animals, especially reptiles. Dinosaurs were my "specialty" as a kid, so my family naturally directed me to the gator park. When I arrived, I was amazed at what I saw. Huge alligators, crocodiles, snakes, lizards... a reptile lover's dream! Then I saw the gator wrestling show, and I knew right then and there what my future held.

I was going to wrestle alligators.

My Jersey friends and family were not so supportive of my plans. No one really believed I was going to do this. They thought I was just excited and that it would pass. I visited Florida in July of 2002. By late October of that same year, I was driving down with all my possessions in my van, chasing the dream. By July of the following year, I was working at the park. I would not be denied. There were challenges. I was coming in at 31 years of age, an age when gator wrestlers are retiring from action. I was just starting. I was also coming in with a slew of nagging martial arts related injuries from my years practicing and teaching Karate in New Jersey (at the Y in Newark, just like Daniel-sun in Karate Kid). Also, my trainers didn't think I would make it work. My hands were too small, upper body too big, legs too short. Well, I set out to prove them wrong, and did, on February 26 of 2004, when I passed my gator wrestling training and did my first show. I was on cloud nine. All the blood, sweat and tears, all the pain, blues and agony, all the grind was worth it.

Well, I set out to prove them wrong, and did, on February 26 of 2004, when I passed my gator wrestling training and did my first show. I was on cloud nine. All the blood, sweat and tears, all the pain, blues and agony, all the grind was worth it.

Five years later, I was a physical wreck. Years of jumping on alligators and landing on your knees, plus torquing your hips to stay on an angry fighting gator had taken its toll. The years of pulling reluctant, 100-200 pound alligators out of the water, up over a 4 foot wall and dragging them across the sand also did a number on my back. I remember straining my back severely at the start of a wrestling show. I almost blacked out from the pain, but gutted it out. After the adrenaline faded, however, I was a useless mess, unable to move, sit, or lay down. My wife had to literally spoon feed me, as I could not stand the pressure it took to sit up. I felt like an invalid and hated every second.

Fast forward to 2016. I no longer wrestle gators or work at the gator park. Now I drive monster trucks at a farm in Clermont, Florida. I was still feeling the years of abuse my body took at the gator park. My hands were scarred and still sore from the various bites I had sustained. I had carpal tunnel. My back was constantly giving out. My hips were a mess, and I swore I'd need plastic in one of my knees eventually. The fact that I was 5 foot 6 and weighed 243 pounds didn't help matters either. I was angry, negative, hopeless, depressed. I had a wonderful wife and beautiful children that I was always blowing up at. Life was weighing me down...... even though nothing bad had really happened. It was me. My physical condition was affecting everything.

Then I saw the Resurrection of Jake the Snake. I had seen the Arthur Boorman video a few times, but this show stuck with me, perhaps because Jake was my favorite wrestler growing up. DDP helped Jake. He fixed him, made him accountable. I needed to do that. I needed to fix myself. I needed to own my life. So, I ordered the DVDs.

They arrived in January. I began dedicated practice in February of 2017, and 6 months later I am weighing 215 pounds. My back has not given me any problems. My carpal tunnel is gone. My knees feel great and my hips are good as new. Don't get me wrong, I still feel the normal aches and pains one gets every once and a while, but not what I was feeling before. My mood has changed, and my family life has improved SOOOO much! I feel like DDP YOGA has saved not only my life, but it has also saved my sanity, and my family as well.

I even got to go to the Wrestlemania public workout, but was a bit bummed. Just as it was my turn to ask Dallas a question, they had to stop Q&A.
Then, when I went to get a pic with him, Dallas had to run to do Wrestlecon.

Lol, but it's all good. DDP has already added so much value to my life, I can't thank him enough....... but I'm going to try. I am doing the DDP YOGA Certified Instructor Level 1 course, and am hoping to bring DDPY to Florida!! As life-changing as it has been for me, I want to make a difference in my own community and change some lives.
Central Florida, get ready to FEEL...... THE...... BANG!!!!!!!!

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