ODESSA -- Former professional wrestler, Fred Urban III, passed away on Sunday.
Urban founded Old School Wrestling Incorporated in Odessa.
He coached and mentored wrestlers, and often donated proceeds from shows to Ector County Independent School District.
Urban’s son, Trey Urban, almost teared up recounting his favorite memory with his father.
“It was my first wrestling match, and it was actually his last wrestling match. We were both scatter- brained, both running all over the place. I remember right before we went out, we hugged each other. And there’s a very special photo and it’s very close to my heart,” Urban said.
A close friend of Urban, Shance Williams, said family was the most important thing in his world.
“He was just an amazing father, friend, grandfather. I think one of the last things he told me was, ‘Shance, I had this lap band surgery so I could get in shape. So I could be there to watch my granddaughter graduate’,” Williams said.
And Urban's family consists of more than blood relatives, according to his friend and fellow wrestler, Cristobal Salcedo.
“It was more than just wrestling. It was, whenever I needed someone to talk to, shoulder to cry on, he was always there for us. Not just me, but all of us. He was that male role model that every man needed in their life,” Salcedo said.
Fellow wrestlers said Urban was the rock many leaned on in their times of trouble. Both inside, and outside, the wrestling ring.
“You know, I had a lot of demons that I was battling through period of time. And Fred would drop what he was doing, and come immediately and try to help any way he could,” Williams said.
Urban was encouraging, according to his long-time friend, Sam Logan.
“He wanted to make sure everybody was able to live out their dream. And he saw, you know, potential in people that they probably didn’t even see in themselves,” Logan said.
Another wrestler, Jeb, said Urban recognized potential, and instilled confidence in those around him.
“He was able to grab people that were very sheltered. In a sense of shy, and breaking that mold, and making them be more open,” he said.
Sheila Ford has a son with Autism. And Ford said she has noticed a change in her son since he began wrestling and being mentored by Urban.
"Away from the ring, he’s shy, doesn’t say much. In the ring, he explodes! And this is all from Fred letting him be who he wanted to be without labeling him,” Ford said.
Friends said Urban’s role as a mentor almost outshined his coaching ability.
“He’s like a father to me. Because he always takes care of me, takes care of me in the ring and outside the ring. Check on me, see how I’m doing,” Gabriel Dudley said.
Another wrestler’s family member, Anthony Chavez, said others confided in Urban because he was trustworthy and wise.
"Fred would sit there, and he would listen to it all. And he’d bring smiles to faces or he’d bring solutions to problems,” Chavez said.
The spirit of Urban will continue to live on in the hearts of those at Old School Wrestling.
"His jokes, his laughter, everything that he did for everybody. He’s gonna be missed,” Lynnette Martinez said.
Another wrestler, Noah Kunz, said Urban’s ability to bring people together is inspiring.
“The fact that Fred was able to bring all of us together, and we all became family because of it, is just something I’ll carry with me forever,” Cunz said.