It's Not Easy Being Mean 

New Jack: ��blade in the ring��

Let's get one thing straight from the start. New Jack did not stab William "Hunter" Lane 14 times with a shiv during a wrestling match in Jacksonville.

He only stabbed him nine times. And only four of the wounds were serious. And, besides, Lane had agreed to be cut. It was part of the show.

"He wanted a brutal match," Jack says.

But to listen to the media reports that swirled around the world, you'd have thought New Jack committed the crime of the century.

"They made it sound like I cut the motherfucker in the parking lot," Jack says. "They made me sound like Jeffrey Dahmer."

The media weren't the only people worked up about the Oct. 10 stabbing. After watching a video of the match, Duval County Assistant State Attorney Robert Lippelman wanted to put New Jack in prison for 15 years for aggravated battery.

"It's one of the most egregiously violent things I've ever seen," Lippelman says. "To any reasonable person, it's offensively violent."

The stabbing started only moments after the match began. The video opens with Lane, a tall white guy, strutting into a nearly empty ballroom at the Radison Riverwalk Hotel, looking cocky and wearing a Crocodile Dundee-type hat.

New Jack comes in next, through a cloud of smoke and the pounding beat of music. Jack goes about 6 feet, 240. He is 42, a veteran of 13 years of hardcore wrestling. He's dressed in black-and-gray urban camouflage and slings a chain and a crutch into the ring before he climbs in. You can tell from Jack's movements that his body is broken in places from a career filled with "suicide jumps" off balconies, scaffolds and lighting towers onto opponents below. His record jump was from 34 feet - swooping down like a bat from three stories up - but he snapped his leg when he landed.

As soon as the Jacksonville match begins, Lane starts swinging. He appears to catch Jack in the side of the head with a right. Jack looks mad.

Nobody should ever make New Jack mad.

Lane tries to pick Jack up with the intention of slamming him down. Jack grabs Lane's head with his left arm. You can see Jack's right hand working its way into his pocket and pulling something out. It appears to be a sharp piece of metal. He reaches around and stabs Lane near the neck, then slices his back, near his shoulder blade.

Jack bores in, like a carpenter working patiently with an awl. He cuts Lane five more times. Lane sags to the mat. Jack knees him viciously in the face. Lane goes flying out of the ring onto the floor of the ballroom. Fans are standing and looking frightened.

Jack jumps down on the floor. He slashes Lane, and then stabs him hard and deep in the back. He seems to realize Lane is hurt. He looks worried. He keeps his foot on Lane as the promoter and an undercover cop comes over. Jack grabs the promoter, who says something that enrages Jack. He lunges at the promoter, quick as a snake striking. Jack moves so fast, so suddenly, that it may be the scariest thing on the tape. Even the cop jumps back. The tape ends.

About the time that New Jack was stabbing Lane, I was interviewing Robert Prechter, an economic forecaster in Gainesville, Ga., who predicts an increase in the popularity of violent sports and entertainment as the economy sinks into a long-term bear market.

So I was interested when I read a headline on the Internet that said, "Wrestler stabs opponent 14 times in Florida match." The suspect, Jerome Young, who wrestled under the name "New Jack," was from Smyrna, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. I later found he had moved from Smyrna to Tampa, where he says he lived for a year with friends - Missy Hyatt and John and Bill Alfonzo. Now he is a nomad - always on the road.

I began trying to track him down. One day in early November, I picked up the phone and heard a deep, gruff, abrupt voice saying, "This is New Jack." Then he started talking.

"Jack is a uniquely talented talker," observes Bill Behrens, an Atlanta businessman who promotes televised wrestling matches.

New Jack and I meet for lunch at McCormick & Schmick's, the seafood restaurant at CNN Center in downtown Atlanta. He tells me that even when he was a small boy, growing up in Greensboro, N.C., he was a jumper.

"When my mom would get off work, I thought it was funny to get on top of the house," he says. "She'd drive up into the driveway and I'd dive off the top of the house right in front of her car. She'd get out and beat the shit out of me."

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