By Tommy McCardle |Staff Writer|
Performing at WrestleMania is the dream for many professional wrestlers, but everybody needs to build a foundation for their dreams first.
For 28 years Jesse Hernandez has been teaching pride, honor, and respect to professional wrestling students in San Bernardino.
Hernandez, owner of School of Hard Knocks, began his career in professional wrestling in 1979 while training under The Great Goliath, a multi title winning wrestling champion from 1967 to 1982.
After Vince McMahon, owner of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), had taken over control of the wrestling territory in Southern California from Mike Labelle in 1982, Hernandez stayed on as an agent.
When WWE’s tour would travel to San Bernardino, it was Hernandez’s responsibility to ensure local talent was to be booked on events.
Eventually Hernandez branched out on his own, opening the School of Hard Knocks.
“The name came to us after CNN had done a piece about our school,” said Hernandez.
In 1992 CNN concluded their clip by calling it the School of Hard Knocks, after the LA Times had referred to it as the School of Fake Knocks.
Hernandez also spent time working for WWE as a referee through the 80s end then left around 1997.
He then co-founded the Empire Wrestling Federation (EWF) with Bill Anderson in 1996, untill 1999 in which Hernandez became the sole owner since anderson left the organization.
EWF is a wrestling promotion that primarily showcases the students that are ready to perform in front of a live crowd.
“The EWF is a platform for my students to gain experience with a crowd in hopes they can move on to bigger promotions,” said Hernandez.
Notable names that have come out of the school include former WWE Women’s Champion Melina, Frankie Kazarian, Kia “Awesome Kong” Stevens, Rico Constantino and Rocky Romero.
Hernandez was the recipient of The Golden Ear award in 2014 by the Cauliflower Alley Club, a non-profit organization comprised of retired and active pro wrestlers and boxers in North America.
CSUSB Alumni Adam Ghossein is set to officially debut for the EWF at the end of 2016 as a ring announcer.
This will be Ghosseins first active role with the organization.
Andy Brown started training in August of 2011 and has quickly climbed to the top of the EWF.
Brown made his debut in September of 2012 in a match against Mondo Vega.
As of 2016, Brown is a former EWF Tag Team Champion, EWF American Champion, and has currently been EWF World Champion since May 6, 2016.
Students feel that they have learned many values that can be applied to their careers and lives.
“Our slogan of ‘Pride, Honor, and Respect’ is more than a slogan,” said Brown.
He explained that the teachings from Hernandez teaches about taking pride in what you do, honoring the people who came before you and respecting the traditions of professional wrestling.
Jacob Tarasso has been training under Hernandez since 2009.
“It took me two years of training before I felt I was ready for my first match,” said Tarasso.
Recently the School and the EWF launched their Hall of Fame.
First inductees were Melina Perez, Frankie Kazarian, and the first EWF World Champion Bobby Bradley.
All three inductees appeared at the EWF’s 20th Anniversary Extravaganza on May 6, 2016, in West Covina.
From wrestlers to referees and even to announcers, the School of Hard Knocks is open to anybody seeking an education in professional wrestling.