By Mike Mooneyham

Feb. 12, 2006

Ricky Morton, who has been serving time in a Tennessee jail since Oct. 15, is hoping that his four-month ordeal comes to an end on Wednesday.

That’s when the one-time pro wrestling superstar is scheduled to go in front of a judge in an attempt to get payments lowered in his child support case.

Leisa Richards, along with a group of Morton’s wrestling colleagues, has been spearheading an effort to free her longtime friend. Donations and benefit shows have helped, but more than anything, moral support from Richards and her group has kept Morton going since he has been behind bars.

“It’s been a very difficult time for Ricky,” says Richards. “But we’re just counting down the days until the 15th when he can hopefully get out.”

Richards insists Morton, 49, is no “deadbeat dad.”

Ricky Morton

Ricky Morton

She notes that a misconception among some is that Morton wasn’t paying his child support. He was, she says, just not at the rate he was ordered to pay some 15 years ago when he was pulling in a six-figure salary. It’s been many years since he has enjoyed that level of income, she says, but he never got the rate modified because he felt he’d be “cheating his kids.”

Morton, the father of six, reportedly owed his first wife nearly $74,000 in back payments for child support at the time he was sentenced last October. The amount of support was determined by the salary Morton was making at the time of his divorce while he was earning a hefty income working for WCW. The couple’s three children at the time of the divorce hearing are currently ages 23, 20 and 17.

Richards has been working with a number of independent wrestling promoters on booking Morton for future events. She hopes that she’ll be able to prove in court that Morton will have a sufficient workload that will enable him to begin catching up on his child support payments at a more equitable rate.

“He just didn’t want his kids to be left out,” says Richards. “He was paying each month. It just wasn’t enough. He was trying to take care of his family in Bristol, too, and he was just getting behind.”

“If he can just get it through his head that getting his child support lowered doesn’t mean he’s failing,” she adds. “A lot of people don’t take into account the amount of cash that he gave his kids that didn’t go through the courts. That doesn’t even count.”

Morton tentatively has been booked for a show Friday night in Pickens in a tag-team match pairing him with estranged Rock ‘N Roll Express partner Robert Gibson against perennial opponents The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey).

“We’re working on getting Ricky out, getting him some traveling money and getting him working shows and stuff like that. We’re hoping everything will be all right,” says Richards. “We’ll just have to play it by ear.”

Richards and wrestler Tracy Smothers attended Morton’s last hearing on Jan. 10. While the judge agreed that the grappler couldn’t make money and catch up on his payments while behind bars, he denied Morton’s release at the time and ordered another hearing for Feb. 15.

No time limit had been set for Morton’s incarceration, but the maximum sentence according to Tennessee state law is six months, says Richards.

Another $5,000 will be required for Morton’s freedom, although Richards says that amount may be lowered due to time already served.

A recent benefit show at a flea market in Alcoa, Tenn., drew a standing-room-only crowd of nearly 500 fans to a venue set up for half that amount. Among those who worked on the 15-match show were A.J. Styles, Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey, Lance Storm and Shannon Moore.

Cowboy Bill Watts, Harley Race and Terry Funk are scheduled to take part in another benefit show to be held in Tulsa, Okla., in March. All proceeds from the show will go to Morton’s fund.

Richards says Morton, who recently was elevated to trustee status, has been working out every day but has gained 15 pounds in jail.

“His ulcers gave him problems when he first got in there, but now he’s kind of calmed down and learned what to eat and not make himself sick,” she says. “Being a trustee has been allowed him to change his food a little bit.”

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Morton has only been allowed to see his oldest son and his two brothers since being in jail. His mother is in failing health, but has been able to talk to her son by phone each day.

“We’re just trying to keep things going,” says Richards. “We’re just doing the best we can do.”

– Brad Anderson, son of late pro wrestling great Gene Anderson, recently was arrested in Charlotte after police said the 36-year-old hair stylist and former grappler used customer information to obtain prescription drugs.

Anderson, who was charged with prescription fraud, owns Studio 416 in Charlotte.

According to WCNC News in Charlotte, police said the victims had no idea they were being taken. They said Anderson would pick up important clues from casual conversation, remember those details and then hit 15 pharmacies in North and South Carolina.

Capt. Bruce Bellamy of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, who heads the city’s vice unit, said the hairdresser used information from his customers to forge prescriptions for the painkiller hydrocodone. Police told the station they actually caught Anderson in the act at a local pharmacy.

– Amarillo wrestling legend Ricky Romero, patriarch of the Youngblood wrestling clan, passed away recently at the age of 74 following a lengthy battle with diabetes.

For years Romero was the most beloved West Texas babyface next to the Funk family. Romero was the father of Mark and Chris Youngblood (Romero) and the late Jay Youngblood (Steve Romero).

– Hacksaw Jim Duggan, who made an appearance on last week’s Raw, may become part of the main roster as a partner of the returning Goldust (Dustin Runnels).

– Joanie “Chyna” Laurer will take part in a new VH-1 series “Surreal Life: Fame Games,” which will feature alumni from the reality show competing in an elimination competition for $100,000.

Others who have signed on for the show include Vanilla Ice, Ron Jeremy and Emmanuel Lewis.

– New Generation Wrestling will debut in Pickens at 8 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Pickens Recreation Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Rock ‘N Roll Express (Morton and Gibson) will meet Terry Taylor and Dr. Tom Prichard in the main event. Also on the card: Tracy Smothers vs. George South. The Lightning Express (Armstrong and Horner) vs. The Midnight Express (Eaton and Condrey); Krissy Vaine vs. Amber O’Neal; The Patriot vs. The Masked Superstar; and others.

For more information, contact www.epwt.com , e-mail ngwmatt@yahoo.com or call (864) 878-9239.

–Eastern Pro Wrestling of Columbia will team with AFE Championship Wrestling of Myrtle Beach for a show April 7, The Road to Beach Bash 2, in Johnsonville. Main event will feature David Flair defending the AFE title against Danny Dollar.