Wrestling with faith

Billy Ketchersid. Photo by Randy Conn.

Billy Ketchersid almost lost his livelihood, his family, and his life to alcohol and drugs. He was on the fast track to a dead end lifestyle until his faith in God, combined with his love of professional wrestling, saved his life.

William Wayne Ketchersid, 40, abused drugs from the age of 12 to the age of 24. “I never did needles,” he said, “but if you could drink it, snort it, pop it, I was using it.”

Ketchersid was always an avid fan of professional wrestling. He was two years old when he attended his first live event and immediately became attached. “It was Andre the Giant versus six other guys,” Ketchersid said. “After seeing that, I fell in love.”

When Ketchersid turned 20, he decided to try out for World Championship Wrestling’s Power Plant Initiative, a training facility in Atlanta, Ga., that trained future television wrestling stars for Turner Network Television. Ketchersid saved up $3,000 to receive six months training, but that never happened.

“I was having a going away party and blew all of my money on drugs and alcohol,” Ketchersid said. “I couldn’t make it. I knew I was in a bad place. That’s when I decided to join the Navy.”

As he attempted to distance himself from his habitual lifestyle, Ketchersid found out that it was hard to straighten his life out, even in the Navy. “There were more drugs there than there were on the streets,” he said.

In May 1996, eight months and eight days after he enlisted, Ketchersid was kicked out of the Navy for drug abuse.

“I knew I needed to change,” said Ketchersid. “I wanted to change, but every town I went to I found myself alongside bad crowd after bad crowd after bad crowd.”

It wasn’t until Ketchersid and a friend passed through a narcotics checkpoint in El Paso, Texas later that year that he could finally see his blessings in front of him and decided he was going to make the change that he knew he needed.

“They asked to search our car,” Ketchersid recalled. “Everything was easily in plain sight, but somehow the officer didn’t take notice of any of it. He found nothing. I started praying to the Lord to help me through this. My mom had been sick and was dying and I didn’t want any of this to be on her. That’s about the time they called in a drug dog. The dog started sniffing around our trunk, which is where we had even more narcotics.”

To Ketchersid’s surprise, even the highly trained search dog was coming up with nothing. “We were told we were free to go, and I quit everything on the spot that day,” said Ketchersid. “It was June 14, 1996, and I never went back. That was the day God showed himself to me. I moved to North Carolina a month later.”

It was in North Carolina that Ketchersid met one of the most important players in his salvation, his wife Tonya. “I was trying to change and focus on staying clean and serving God,” Ketchersid said. “I felt like a relationship would be more of a distraction than anything, until we went on our first date.”

“We were at a restaurant and the waiter handed me the alcohol menu,” recalled Ketchersid. “I told him I wasn’t interested in drinking anymore, and that’s when Tonya looked at me, looked at him, looked at the menu and said, ‘You know what? I should try and quit, too.’ She quit because I quit, and she didn’t even know my story.”

“He was just the sweetest guy,” Tonya Ketchersid said. “It was his gentleness and ability to know exactly what to say and when to say it that just won me over. You can just look into his eyes and tell he is a good man.”

Ketchersid and his wife have been sober since that day. Their dates together have since included bible studies, church, and Christian bike rallies.

“She’s a huge part of my sobriety. I couldn’t have made it this far without her,” said Ketchersid. They were married on Jan. 1, 1997 and have been together ever since.

Ketchersid is now an ordained minister out of Waynesville, N.C. and oversees funerals and weddings. He is also the owner and promoter of Full Momentum Wrestling, an organization that provides a safe haven for young kids to train, work, and stay out of trouble.

Ketchersid named his wrestling character, B.K. Valor, after his first and last initial along with one of his favorite Bible verses from Judges 6:12. “The Lord is with the mighty man of valor.” The essence of valor is something Ketchersid carries with him into every performance.

Ketchersid started FMW in 2007 along with Gary Higdon, his brother-in-law, and David Sharpe, a friend and fellow professional wrestler. “I saw a lot of potential in Billy,” Sharpe said. “He was a little rough around the edges, skill-wise, but I could easily see all of his heart and passion for the wrestling business. I could tell it was something important to him and how badly he wanted to succeed.”

Ketchersid purchased FMW’s wrestling ring in 2007 for $2,500. It came with a light harness, stage lights, and four championship titles. FMW held its first wrestling event, Ignition 1, at the Frog Level Armory in Waynesville on Oct. 18, 2008. They have since held events throughout Western North Carolina and engaged in charitable work.

Chuck Justice, another friend and one of the older veterans of local professional wrestling, saw his house burn to the ground in 2008. Ketchersid used his wrestling promotion to raise money to help his friend rebuild.

Trent “Little Man” Peterson was confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy as a child. Doctors told Peterson’s mother that he wouldn’t live past the age of five. In spring of 2009, following Peterson’s 18th birthday, Ketchersid and the rest of FMW raised close to $5,000 to send “Little Man” and his family to Disney World that summer.

Ketchersid has memorialized fallen wrestlers and fans by holding annual memorial tournaments, memorial cups, and even entire shows in their honor. FMW also hosts many annual food drives for their fans’ respective communities, charging canned goods as the price of admission for their shows.

“Billy’s a do-right guy,” said friend and fellow wrestler Jeremy Surrett. “He won’t ask you to do anything he wouldn’t do. He really cares. He’s like a big brother.”

All of these wonderful things that Ketchersid has made possible might not have happened if he hadn’t decided to reroute his life back in 1996. His only regret is that he didn’t become drug-free and break into the wrestling business at a younger age.

“But that’s why I’m here for these kids now,” Ketchersid said. “I want to provide them with an alternative for their time and help keep them out of trouble, all the while teaching them to appreciate professional wrestling and help them find the same love and passion for something in their lives just as I did.”

When asked if he would ever leave the professional wrestling business, Ketchersid answered, “I’ll be involved ‘til the day I die.”

Billy Ketchersid gained a new lease on life, and another crack at his childhood dream.


View photos from Full Momentum Wrestling’s most recent event in Fairview, NC.