Brent Tarring, a Baltimore native and resident of Gulfport, is no stranger to adversity. In 1987, Tarring and his father were hit in a drunk driving accident. The car slammed into a tree, causing many injuries and breaking seven bones in Tarring’s thoracic vertebrae. At just 5 years old, Tarring was fitted with Harrington rods running through his spinal column and up his neck. The rods saved his life, but had to be adjusted as Tarring got taller, leaving him to grow up in hospitals.
Tarring’s hospital stays did not end in childhood, though. At 18, he was in a coma after being given the wrong type of blood during a medical procedure. In fall of 2017, staph bacteria in his blood ate away bones in his neck, hospitalizing him for sepsis.
“His neck was crumbling, essentially,” said Kati Asbury, Tarring’s girlfriend.
He fought for his life at Tampa General Hospital, doubting whether he would survive.
“I went in on October 23 and I didn’t leave until January 23,” said Tarring.
“Just hearing his story, you’d still really never know what he’s been through. And he’ll never bring it up. He’s not that kind of person,” said Asbury. “He always puts other people first and sacrifices to make other people happy. I don’t think I could ever be this strong, ever.”
Living with disability – and sometimes even fighting for survival – might have been more than some could handle. But throughout his struggles, Tarring also worked to realize his dream of an announcing career with World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc, (WWE). For five years, Tarring announced for WWE until he finally split from the company in 2010. Tarring said he felt WWE was pushing him aside because of his disability, preferring he write the scripts instead of announce the show. This wasn’t what Tarring wanted and not what he had worked for.
“And to get to WWE, nobody had done that, from a disabled standpoint,” he said.
In 2010, he knew his announcing career wasn’t over. “I knew what I wanted…This is what I wanted to do, professional wrestling,” said Tarring. “I knew I was good at it. I knew I showed up before everybody and left after everybody.”
Tarring wasn’t ready to give up on his dream.
“I’m the best young guy out there and I walked away,” said Tarring. “And nobody walks away from WWE. That’s crazy.”
After taking some time to focus on his health, then later fight for his life in fall 2017, Tarring joined forces with All In, a wrestling production bearing the tagline: “The Biggest Independent Wrestling Show Ever.”
The show, which threw down in Chicago’s Sears Centre on September 1, 2018, was the first independent wrestling show in the US to sell 10,000 tickets since 1993. And Tarring was there to announce it.
After the success of the show, Tarring says decided to stick with All In, a team of friends Tarring feels lifts him up and recognizes his professional announcing skills.
“There’s no denying hard work and talent,” said Tarring. “If you don’t give up, something will happen.”
Tarring’s plans for the future include more wrestling announcing, another surgery that will put him out of the game for a few months, and brainstorming how to inspire others with disabilities.
“Any time I want to give up, or any time it just sucks, dude – like it’s not about me anymore,” said Tarring. “I’ve gotten far enough and done enough that I’m but a vessel for this story.”
Currently, Tarring is looking into the idea of pairing up with others who have overcome extreme adversity and telling his story to a larger audience via a podcast, book or documentary.
“I think I can give a little bit of silver lining and hope and that’s what you need to get through day to day,” he said.
Tarring feels that his story may be especially inspiring to kids with injuries or disabilities.
“I know that when I was in Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital as a kid, if there was some adult guy with a spinal cord injury who had a girlfriend and was in wrestling, it would have blown my mind,” he said. “So I know somehow I can help somebody.”