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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Christ tames wrestling's Sting

Credit: The Daily News By Hector Longo Staff writer

LAWRENCE — In the ring, as a professional wrestler, "Sting" could do no wrong.

He once blindsided the immortal Hulk Hogan with his trademark wooden baseball bat, a sure-ticket to "heel" status, and was cheered for it.

Sting stood on top of the wrestling world in the mid-1990s, universally loved and adored.

When the spotlights cooled, Steve Borden paid the price for his character's greatness. He wore the scars of the success — addiction, separation, anger and depression.

Borden, in the city for this week's Christian Films Festival to help promote his new movie, "Sting: Moment of Truth," was on a collision course with his own demise. And at that time, he was only in his 30s.

"The amazing thing is we've lost about 40 guys to drugs and alcohol," said Borden, explaining the circumstances of life on the road in professional wrestling, which ultimately led to his "Moment of Truth."

"I'm not saying every wrestler is on drugs or alcohol, but there's just so much out there. I truly believe I was on my way."

He was on the road, 320 nights a year, subjecting his body nightly — sometimes twice a day — to wild falls, swinging metal chairs, leaps and crashing tumbles. "A human superball," he says.

Borden turned to those pain killers and muscle relaxants to ease the pain. Drug testing at that time within Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling was "a joke."

The physical strain grew emotional. His wife, Sue, at home with his two sons, Garrett and Steven, wondered where her husband's heart lay.

"Really, it was amazing. I'm at the top of my game, and I was a ticking time bomb ready to go off," said Borden.

All that changed in 1998.

Pressed by Sue, Steve admitted his addictions, the drug-taking and the daily drinking.

"As the Bible says, confess one's sins to another."

The Bordens needed more, though. Steve needed more. Totally honest with Sue, he admitted to the darker, wilder times of infidelity.

"It tore her apart. She hated me, and at the same time had every right," said Borden. "And there were the boys. We needed something supernatural. I could not fix it on my own."

Borden found himself a one-step program.

"I went to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ saved my life."

Borden had been teased by the workings of Christ in the past, by his brother, former wrestler Ted DiBiase, and others, but never had he surrendered his heart.

"God completely reconciled our marriage," said Borden, now 46, who with Sue went on to have a third child, Gracie.

Sting continued wrestling after his 1998 acceptance of Christ. He remained a top draw all the way until the sale of WCW to Vince McMahon's WWE in 2001.

"At first it was awkward, being with those same guys (with whom he was running with before his conversion)," said Borden. "Believe me, I didn't cram the Bible down anyone's throat. They talked, and the Internet buzzed with the idea that I was in some religious cult.

"Once they realized I was of sound mind, I was accepted."

Since 2001, Sting has taken a backseat to Garrett, Steven, Gracie and Sue. He has dabbled in some wrestling, traveling all over the world for smaller organizations and always playing the hero's role.

Every spring around now (in the build-up to the WWE's pay-per-view Wrestlemania), the rumors abound that Sting will make a comeback with WWE.

"It is true that we have spoken recently," he admitted, which should delight his fans throughout the nation. But Borden wrestles with an association to an entertainment company that promotes such raw storylines. WWE currently is working a story, deeply involving this month's Playboy magazine centerfold.

"What kind of message does that send to the 5-6-7-8-9-10-year-old tuning in to see the Stinger and he has to see stuff like that?" he questioned.

Borden spent his time between interviews and autographs at the Showcase Cinema introducing his film to the public. He'll return home a content and happy man, complete in his faith and family.

His sons, now 13 and 14, are top athletes, football players, with no chance of entertaining ideas of professional wrestling.

"I couldn't be more proud than to see the boys grow up with the Lord," he said. "That would be the best."

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