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Original Four Horsemen Member Ole Anderson Passes Away at 81

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The wrestling world suffered a great loss on Monday with the passing of Ole Anderson, a legendary professional wrestler who was known for his role as an original member of the Four Horsemen team in the 1980s. Anderson, who was 81 years old, died at his home in Monroe, Ga., as confirmed by the Carter Funeral Home in Winder, Ga. The cause of his death was not disclosed.

World Wrestling Entertainment, formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation during Anderson’s wrestling career, paid tribute to him in a statement, highlighting his “hard-nosed style and gruff demeanor.” Anderson wrestled professionally from the late 1960s through the 1980s, after being trained by Verne Gagne, a revered member of the WWE Hall of Fame.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, Anderson was part of the tag team known as the Minnesota Wrecking Crew, alongside wrestlers like Gene, Lars, and Arn Anderson. Together, they achieved popularity across regional circuits like the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and the Georgia Championship Wrestling, all under the umbrella of the National Wrestling Alliance. They were crowned tag team champions multiple times.

One of Anderson’s most notable achievements came in the 1980s when he joined forces with Arn Anderson, Ric Flair, and Tully Blanchard to form the Four Horsemen stable. The group went on to dominate the N.W.A. and later World Championship Wrestling, setting a standard of success and attitude that inspired many stables in the future.

After retiring from active competition, Anderson continued to contribute to wrestling by booking matches for W.C.W. in the 1990s. His strong opinions on the commercialization of professional wrestling were evident in his book “Inside Out: How Corporate America Destroyed Professional Wrestling,” co-written with Scott Teal in 2003. Anderson was critical of the corporate transformation of the sport and his clashes with top executives, including Vince McMahon.

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In more recent years, Anderson remained vocal about his views on the direction of wrestling, particularly the entertainment-focused approach of the W.W.E. He expressed his disillusionment with the current state of the industry in interviews, stating that the emphasis on entertainment had overshadowed the sport itself.

Despite being left out of the W.W.E. Hall of Fame induction for the Four Horsemen, Anderson’s legacy was recognized in the N.W.E. and W.C.W. halls of fame. Born as Alan Robert Rogowski on September 22, 1942, in St. Paul, Minn., Anderson developed a passion for wrestling after serving in the U.S. Army and being influenced by the wrestling scene in Minnesota.

An excerpt from his book revealed Anderson’s dedication to the sport, as he recalled a moment with Verne Gagne where he refused to show any sign of fatigue during a tryout. This determination and relentless attitude defined Anderson’s wrestling career and contributed to his success in the ring.

Anderson is survived by his children and his longtime companion Marsha Cain. His impact on professional wrestling, both in the ring and behind the scenes, will be remembered by fans and peers alike.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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