I loved my dad. My dad loved me (I know, because he told me so). I love my sons. My sons love me (I know because they tell me so). I love the dynamics of father/son relations — the ebbs and flows of emotions from idealizing to eye-rolling to friendship, all bound with love.
When I was about four, one summer night there was a thunderstorm which woke me up, I looked out my bedroom window and saw my dad was sleeping on a hammock with my blue, canvas pup tent draped across him. While all in the house slept, I got out of bed, went out the back door and waddled through the rain to my dad. I lifted the tent up and climbed up there, all wet, with him and slept. When I was a high school teenager, I thought my dad didn’t know much. I was disrespectful. By the time I graduated from college and got a real job until he died 11 years later, he was my dearest friend.
My eyes leak a little when Harry Chapin sings, Cat’s in the Cradle or when the movie The Champ plays on TV. I love a good father/son story, and when I saw one play out before me my heart warmed and I smiled. I’m smiling now as I type.
A few months ago I was at a fundraising event at the 411 Pub in Goodrich. The event was for TANk (that’s the way it’s spelled) “The Celtic Beast” Bosen, a 19 year-old Goodrich High School graduate who is following his dream of being a professional wrestler. The fundraiser, organized by his father, 53-year-old Kurt Bosen, was to help TANk go south to learn more about professional wrestling. Oh, by the way, TANk (Gary is his given name) is also somewhere on the autism spectrum.
“Before wrestling TANk did not have many friends and was not very social,” his father said. “I would have to attend sports practice so he would get fair and decent treatment by his peers and coaches. Even if I was there he would be bullied or mistreated in which I called out to the person/persons on the spot.
“TANk has grown emotionally and socially. Wrestling has helped TANk tremendously. At first he did not try to talk to other wrestlers or fans. I used to lead conversations and help the coaches convey what and how they were trying to train him. As for fans, I used to lead TANk around to talk, sign autographs and take pictures. I would start the conversation and help TANk (lead) him through the interactions. To my surprise one day TANk said ‘Dad, I got this! I can do this by myself.’
“Now I see TANk having conversations with wrestlers and fans on his own. Just recently TANk was approached by a well known wrestler in the Indie scene. TANk was asked to give feedback on that wrestler’s recent match minutes before. I just sat and listened and smiled when I saw and heard the interaction between the two.”
Indeed at the fundraising event I attended, TANk and Dad mingled in and out of the crowd selling T-shirts. TANk was smiling, talking and enjoying himself. So was his dad.
Dad Bosen has been on disability for the last decade and has been able to spend more time with his son than many dads can. Bosen said he and his wife divorced a year and a half ago, Gary (TANk) being their only son. Supporting Gary are his grandparents, Gary and Colleen Bosen, his aunt Kathy Beard and his uncles Kelly and Keith Bosen.
TANk has wrestled for the last six years and currently trains with Pur Pro Wrestling Development Center. His trainer/coach is Joe Byrd. TANk trains anywhere from two to three times a week, two hours on Wednesdays, four to five hours on Fridays and two to fours hours on Saturdays. He graduated from high school in 2022, was on the homecoming court and according to his father will attend Mott Community College in the spring, where he wants to study to be a “geologist or gemologist.” He also likes history. He has gone to hospitals to visit children with cystic fibrosis and group homes to bring them cheer.
“His wrestling dream is to inspire others with disabilities while wrestling,” Kurt said. “Watching TANk follow his dream makes me feel so proud. It’s even better because I get to be involved helping him make the right decisions on things such as training, his outfits, entrance music and character. Gary is TANk! Seeing TANk develop emotionally and socially is very fulfilling. I have always tell TANk, ‘Dad will give you the tools like coaches, trainers, weights, how to develop important contacts, teach you get out what you put into something, and how to fund raise. But you have to use those tools to succeed. Dad can not make you use these tools. You have to want to do it.’”
For parents with Autistic children and young adults TANk’s dad has this advice: Keep fighting for your child. Give them continuous love and support. There will be hard times, but struggle through them. Remember the more you give them positive experiences and memories, the better off they will be. Show them it is okay to be different. We look at Autism as an ability not a disability.
TANk wrestles anywhere from two to three shows a month in front of crowds upwards between 300 and 500 people. You can follow TANk on Facebook: Tank the Celtic Beasts Fan Page.
I will leave you with a TANkism to get you through your day, “If you DREAM it, you BELIEVE it, you can ACHIEVE it.”
Thank you, Kurt for bringing the TANk out of your son Gary.
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